Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Nude Vampire (1970)

THE NUDE VAMPIRE has a lot going for it and is just as enjoyable as other early efforts from Jean Rollin (THE SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES and REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE) and is a masterpiece that I can’t help thinking ends up not getting the love it deserves on account of its low production and bizarre ‘out there’ feel; although it is getting a Blu-ray release this January along with a few other Rollin favorites. 

A mysterious woman, Caroline Cartier, is stalked in the middle of the night by strange pursuers with animal masks. She runs into a well-dressed young gentleman, Pierre, played by Olivier Rollin (Rollin’s half-brother), who senses she is in danger and attempts to help her out but with no such luck, as she is eventually shot by her masked pursuers and carried away to a clubhouse that happens to belong to Pierre's father, Radamante, Maurice Lemaitre, where nicely dressed people seem to aggregate. Concerned, the young man attempts to enter, but he is refused by a gatekeeper who doesn’t let him in without an invitation. 

The appearance of the stalkers in animal masks are an early sign of the ‘no-budget’ feel of the film, but they still manage to be eerily intriguing, and the particular sequence is so visually unique that it is hard not to be interested. During this sequence, the dissonant and screeching violin and a delirious sounding saxophone that can be heard blend into a cacophony at times. The music succeeds in setting an unusual mood that is just as weird as the movie. The violin will sometimes shriek out, resulting in a feeling that is like a slap to the senses. 

When Pierre manages to gain entry to the nocturnal meetings, he finds that what might have been an exclusive private party at his father’s clubhouse turns out to be a meeting ground for a cult that worships the mysterious and alluring woman he met and saw shot on the streets.




Now alive and uninjured from the gunshot, she turns out to be a strange and beautiful goddess-like creature that is seemingly immortal. Randomly chosen cult members are willing to die for her, smiling while committing suicide as if they are proud to offer her blood nourishment with their deaths. Considering that she was trying to escape this place earlier and a sorrowful expression over her face after she feeds on a dead cult member, it almost seems like she is sort of a victim. Noticing this, Pierre develops an obsession with her. He later discovers that his father, along with a couple of bumbling researchers, is keeping her captive to try and study what makes her immortal. 

Since this woman is obviously the title character, from here on out, she will be referred to as, the nude vampire, even though she mostly wears an orange see through nightgown.


 

An interesting touch, though not all that convincing since the nude vampire looks the same as any other human, is that whenever she is around, everyone adorns a sack over their heads so that she may not see that she isn’t like them or so she doesn’t feel regret for not being human. With a little imagination this actually works in making this vampire feel like an outside entity. 

My favorite is a marvelous standout moment when an army of vampires, like points of light, calmly emerge unexpectedly from the silence of an empty courtyard and march into a chateau with flame torches in hand, casting flowing silhouettes on the old chateau walls demonstrating fantastic use of shadow play. They’ve come to rescue the nude vampire held captive against her own will. This scene feels like a rebellion of some kind, and with the prevalent hippie look of the vampire group and the time-era, it also feels a little reminiscent of the 1967 “Summer of Love” counterculture peace movement of hippies converging from all over the world to San Francisco. The vampires show an entirely peaceful purpose without even so much as harming the 3 researchers who vainly attempt to gun them down. Being surprisingly friendly without shedding any blood, they seem to just want to liberate the nude vampire from imprisonment and, I don’t know, maybe for humans and vampires to coexist.


 

Aside from a beautiful ascetic and a fairly good story, the film does have its hoots, such as brain-numbing dialogue “she could be a robot” and amusing caricatures of researchers with one looking like Albert Einstein. A few extended erotic dance and posing sessions complete with spike nipple covers and long gold nails feel detached from the story, but they also feel appropriately in-place for a movie called THE NUDE VAMPIRE. Also, an enjoyable artifact in the film is the delight of seeing double, as Rollin demonstrates a captivating visual obsession for the Gemini, with the inclusion of the Castel twins (Catherine and Marie-Pierre). They are at first like pets or fetishistic maids for Radamante, always together and always engaged in the same act, mirroring each other at times, but eventually join the vampire revolt. 




Most remarkable is when after Pierre and the nude vampire fall in love, he gets to join her in her world. The vampire’s realm is shot at a beach where the white sands, white rocky cliffs, and cloudy skies give it a nice otherworldly feel. The vampires, or as they seem to be referred to at this point, evolved mutants, seem much more at home here and are uniformly dressed in red, white, and black attire, except for the leader, Michel Delahaye, whose fashion sense is more appropriate here than the silly getup he had going in the earthly realm. The grandmaster of this mutant race gives an ending speech that reminded me a little of Magneto or Professor Xavier. 




The film is keen on captivating the viewer with visuals, as certain frames are extended out longer than necessary, such as a still and silent watchman with a deer mask standing high atop a dark rooftop. The scene is about 15 seconds long and would feel overextended if not for the fact that it is a very intriguing visual. A culmination of moments such as this causes THE NUDE VAMPIRE to feel like a work of art that one becomes fascinated and enamored with. The best way to enjoy the film is to get lost into the myriad of dark, Gothic, sexy, and sometimes kinky visuals that do not let up for a minute. 




Caroline Cartier looks fantastic in this film, and so in keeping up with the style of the nude vampire here are a few more see through nightgowns to closeout with.  Enjoy.







11 comments:

  1. ohhh the pictures of the actresses see tasty from ^^, However, also otherwise this seems to be a rather good film. Time look whether is also available in Germany.

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  2. Lol @ Mr Banane. Those are lovely ladies!


    Anyhow, I never heard of this movie but it sounds like it could be an awesome watch. I love 70s horrors & low budget films in general.

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  3. @Mr. Banane: I thought it was a unique experience but if you are interested in Rollin in general I’d also recommend THE SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES and THE LIVING DEAD GIRL. Germany has put out some of the best releases of Rollin’s work. It is under the title La Vampire Nue – Die Nackten Vampire on the German Amazon site http://www.amazon.de/Vampire-Nue-Die-nackten/dp/B000KF0F8M/ref=sr_1_3?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1323048679&sr=1-3

    @Real Queen of Horror: If low budget 70s horror is your thing than Rollin’s 70s vampire films should not disappoint, as they are impressive accomplishments that succeed in making best of highly meager resources. The end results are usually like highly imaginative works of art that have their own un-matched characteristics.

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  4. Thanks for showcasing the obscure. I always know where to look when I want to find something that's slightly off the beaten path.

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  5. oh oh... a Film from Jean Rollin... i only know two Film of him... Zombie Lake and Lady Dracula^^

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  6. I wish you quite a great Christmas and a good start in the new year!

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  7. Thanks:) You too. Been taking a break over the holidays but will resume writing here shortly.

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  8. Excellent! Hope you had a great Christmas. Have an excellent 2012! Happy new year!

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  9. Oooh sounds nice. :) I hope you had a great Christmas. BTW, great blog!

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  10. @Johnny Madrid and Jenny Krueger: Thank you, you are all too kind :). I did have a great Christmas visiting relatives. And so, to show my appreciation for the support and because there’s still some Christmas spirit left in me, I’ve added you both to the cool blog list. Happy New Year!

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  11. Really good review, thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven't actually seen this (criminal I know). I'm going to change that.

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