Lips of Blood (1975)

There are a handful of moments in Jean Rollin’s return to the vampire film which almost play like comparatively normal horror. Almost, but not quite somehow. If anything Lips of Blood actually plays like a conspiracy thriller (of which there were, obviously, quite a few at that time); broadly, the plot can be summed up as man goes in search of information that certain parties would prefer he did not obtain, and they will do whatever they think necessary (up to and including murder) to prevent him getting it. It’s just that, unlike (say) All the President’s Men or The Conversation, this conspiracy thriller has vampires in it. Once again it was apparently the shoot from hell, disappearing financiers and contemptuous crew, and the end result was another box office fiasco. The booklet essay points out the scene where our young hero goes to the cinema where Shiver of the Vampires is playing, but if this was a self-reflexive joke on Rollin’s part it seems to have a slightly bitter edge, since the cinema only seems to have two other people in it… It’s actually fairly straightforward stuff, nothing so abstract here as The Iron Rose, but it is terribly slow and I’m not sure there’s really enough going on to adequately fill the comparatively brief 87-minute runtime. That said, Rollin still does a fair job of establishing the somewhat grim mood, and if there’s ever a competition for most attractive vampire in film history, Annie Belle must surely come first (or near the top of the list). Alas for Rollin himself, though, the losses on the film still had to be recouped, and the recent liberalisation of French censorship meant the easiest way of doing so was to recycle it into a hardcore film called Suck Me Vampire, the much greater success of which saw Rollin trapped in the X-rated ghetto for the next few years…

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