The Nude Vampire (1970)–review

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A barely dressed young woman (Caroline Cartier) is being chased late at night by pursuers in strange animal masks when Pierre (Olivier Rollin) happens upon her. He fails at his attempt at rescuing the girl when she is shot and believed to have died. He follows them as they take her body to a house where people are lining up to enter as if for a party. Pierre has no invitation so he is turned away. The house is owned by Pierre’s father, Radamente (Maurice Lemaitre), who won’t tell Pierre what he wants to know about the place. So Pierre attacks and steals the invitation of one of the “party” guests and enters the next night. Here he finds a group of people wearing cloth masks. One is chosen to kill themselves so the escaping girl from the night before–seemingly unharmed–can feed on her blood. After confronting him with this newly found information his father finally tells Pierre what he wants to know.

It seems that the girl is an orphaned daughter of friends of Radamente that he has been looking after since their deaths. He and two other men believe her to be a vampire-like creature and they have been studying her for years. But, in fact, they are really trying to find secretes of immortality so they can live forever. The “party-goers” are actually a suicide cult that Radamente has put in place to help feed the girl with their blood. Also, we and Pierre find that there’s another cult-like group trying to save the girl from Radamente and his friends.

Having grown up in the 70s with weird and wild cinema like John Boorman’s Zardoz and Ken Russell’s Tommy I’m not at all put off by Rollin’s surrealistic strangeness. In fact, I get a rather nostalgic feeling from it. Even though there are times when it doesn’t make much sense, the film’s mood and sensation of mystery drew me in. I wanted to know who the strange fellow in the cape was that wanted to rescue the girl. And what he means when he tells Pierre that he, Pierre, was one of them. These things are the elements that kept my interest and won me over. The naked women helped as well, I’m sure.

The Nude Vampire isn’t really a horror film. In its way it’s more a sci fi fantasy. There’s more an elegant poetic disposition than fright and terror in evidence here. A gunshot to the head and an attack from a candlestick are the two most violent acts committed in the film. And both are done in such a way that suggests playacting. Rollin doesn’t seem to be at all interested in shocking the audience as much as seducing them with his imagery. Graceful and dreamlike the film, I believe, succeeds in doing just that.

This type of film isn’t for everybody. But I found it rather enjoyable.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

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