Daughters of Darkness (1971)

It’s a shame that Umbrella’s DVD release (apparently ported from the old Anchor Bay edition) of this film appears to suffer such a horrible NTSC conversion that’s sucked the life out of the images, cos I probably would’ve enjoyed this better had the thing not looked as murky; the screenshots here are far livelier than on the Australian DVD. That post makes some useful points about the way this film combines arthouse tendencies with horror film tendencies, the result being a film that, at the very least, can hardly be called a traditional vampire flick. The nearest we come to seeing fangs is a scene that goes into a close-up of the mouth of Ilona which ends in us being able to see her teeth, and there’s the barest moment when I thought I could actually see fang, but apparently not. I called Thirst “bloodless”, but the same could be said of this in many ways; it’s less a horror film than an erotic drama where a young newlywed couple with “issues”—not least of which is the nature of his “mother”—get kind of stuck in a hotel in Ostend along with a mysterious countess and her “secretary”. Straightforward psychosexual drama in early 70s Euro style with strong lesbian undercurrents, except that the countess may or may not be a descendent of Elizabeth Bathory, or a reincarnation of her, or the psychotic old bitch herself; while there’s ultimately little doubt as to the vampirism going on, the film leaves the precise nature of its villainess somewhat open. It’s an interesting film though one I had trouble fully getting into, although as I said I suspect the unattractiveness of the DVD image didn’t help me (if I’ve learned nothing else from watching the special features on Doctor Who DVDs, it’s that a poor video standards conversion can really leave your rather nice original image looking like crap); from the reviews I’ve read of the Blue Underground disc pictured above, if I could see that I’m sure I’d at least enjoy the look of the thing better.

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