Daughters of Darkness

The seventies were a golden age for lesbian vampire movies, a tidal wave that crested with 1983’s The Hunger. Jean Rollin is of course the gold standard for this subgenre of cinema, but he wasn’t the only practitioner. Take Daughters of Darkness, which I must admit that I’d never even heard of before Joe Bob’s Last Drive-In Movie Marathon.

The plot: newlyweds Stefan and Valerie vacation in Ostend, Belgium, a gloomy port city. Ostend appears to be totally empty except for Stefan, Valerie and the hotel’s porter. Soon enough the Countess Bathory and her secretary show up, trailed by an Inspector Clouseau type cop.

Valerie and Stefan met only a few days ago and now they’re married; if you think that’s weird, just wait. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Valerie is afraid Stefan’s mother will hate her, except Stefan’s mother is out of the picture. Stefan does have an older male lover, which is fine, except he’s lying to his bride about it. Stefan is also turned on by sadistic murder and likes to beat Valerie with his belt. This is why you should spend at least a week getting to know a person before marrying him/her!

The Countess and her secretary, Ilona, are almost normal compared to Stefan and Valerie. They travel by night, leaving a trail of nubile dead virgins in their wake. The Countess takes a shine to our newlyweds much to the dismay of Ilona, who expresses her displeasure by showing up nude at Valerie’s window.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, here. Suffice it to say there are lots of cocktails, witty repartee, the color red and sex. Daughters of Darkness does have a plot, although it crawls along at a slug’s pace. Unlike Mr. Rollin’s movies, which are Eurotrash and are in awful taste, this is an arthouse flick. Don’t get me wrong, Daughters of Darkness is in awful taste also, except its HIGHBROW awful taste.

My biggest problem with Daughters of Darkness is that the filmmakers don’t care about vampires or vampire lore. There’s a shower scene that I didn’t understand. Ilona either doesn’t like showers or she doesn’t like running water, which would make more sense, but it’s never explained which. I will say that Daughters of Darkness is a good-looking movie that held my interest, but there are better offerings out there. If you want to see a lesbian vampire movie, watch a Jean Rollin flick or The Hunger.

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Vampyres

No naked people appear in the trailer for Vampyres, which is a miracle. This movie is British Eurotrash, although at this point it’s an open question whether Britain is even part of Europe. Vampyres‘ influences are obvious, but it’s way too explicit to be a Hammer production and doesn’t have the visual panache of a Jean Rollin extravaganza.

Vampyres is very ‘No Sex Please We’re British.’ Despite featuring lots of softcore sex, this movie is strangely ambivalent about its subject matter, orgies, bare breasts, lesbians and blood. There’s a scene where Fran and Miriam are drinking wine with that night’s victim, and the orgy is about to commence, and the girls kiss and the guy looks away. You signed up for the orgy, dude, what’s your hang-up?

Vampyres has plot elements but no real plot. Fran and Miriam pick up hitchhikers, kill them and drink their blood. Sometimes they have sex with them. Afterwards, they stage a car accident, carefully placing the bodies of their nude victims in their cars, because people in that part of England all drive naked.

In the opening scene a guy or girl wearing a weird hat (we only see the shadow) kills Fran and Miriam during sexy-time. See what I mean about the ambivalence? The hat is one of the many bizarre touches in Vampyres. We cut to Murray, a beefy middle-aged Englishman checking into a hotel. The elderly manager thinks he recognizes him, and Murray slaps that shit down fast.

The plot kicks into gear when Fran and Miriam bring Murray home to their abandoned castle. Murray does his best to live up to his billing as the male beefcake, saying things like – ‘see here. I find you extremely attractive’ – in a stern voice. You know, the kind of talk that drives a woman wild. Murray may be an older dude, but he gives it his all during the sex scenes. Yes, seeing the liver spots on his back during sexy-time sort of kills the moment, but perhaps the filmmakers determined Murray’s age demographic to be Vampyres’ target audience.

Murray wakes up in the morning with a nasty cut on his arm. During the course of the film, our hero gets weaker and weaker. That could be because he hasn’t eaten in days, or the hours having sex with a woman half his age, or maybe it’s the fact that Fran and Miriam are treating him like a human Slurpee. In one scene the lusty gals use Murray as a prop during their own lovemaking.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I watched Vampyres, but technically this is a horror movie. There are a few interesting elements. The girls kill with a knife instead of with their fangs. I’m not even sure they have fangs, although there is a good biting scene. The ecstatic frenzy in which Fran and Miriam kill and feed is the most interesting thing about this movie.

Anyway, no more hokey recommended or not recommended announcements. Vampyres is a bad movie. If you want to watch it for its historical significance or are in Murray’s age demographic, it’s available on Shudder!