Two Orphan Vampires (1997)

Director: Jean Rollin

By the 90s, Rollin’s career had tailed off into a mire of chronic illness and chronic inability to get funding for the films he wanted to make, so he focused on writing novels instead (based on the scripts he couldn’t get to make into films). And then, thanks to that Immoral Tales book and the renewed availability of his films on video, Rollin suddenly found there was a demand for a new vampire film from him. So, health be damned, he was going to make it even if it killed him. The end result was singular even by his standards (scenes shot in NEW YORK?); I’m damned if I can think of anything else quite like it in 90s horror… and, admittedly, 90s horror isn’t my strong suit, but even so, here’s a Wiki list of horror films released in the same year and, well, yeah, compare and contrast… The titular orphans are two blind girls with the ability to see only at night, and of course a lust for blood; they’re actually kind of amoral creatures, these outwardly charming kids with an obviously much darker secret. There’s a nice line in the DVD featurette where one of the crew members says Rollin was looking for actresses who had a shameless but also childlike quality to them, which perfectly sums the two characters up as well. The two girls in question (Isabelle Teboul and Alexandra Pic) are fantastic, and they do such a good job of selling this really profoundly odd tale that feels weirdly divorced from the real world in a way that even Rollin doesn’t usually manage, as the two girls have their own night-time adventures, including encounters with other, even stranger creatures of the night. Despite the difficulties involved in making it, mostly connected with Rollin’s shabby health (but other things like one actress turning up to the shoot having learned the wrong set of lines), the shoot seems to have been an unusually happy one for a Rollin film, and the end result is, as I said, quite unto itself. I’m just not sure how much I liked it; it’s much longer than most of his other films, it’s a big shaggy and not as immediately appealing as some of his films. But I think it’s one that’ll grow on me with repeat viewings.


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