Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Things That Go "Bump!" in the Night

Clouded in mystery, cloaked in secrecy, they dwell up in an utterly hopless land, upon which an ancient castle dwelling sits. Their desires and aims remain secret until a couple, like in so many horror movies, decides to travel up there, as the brides wishes to pay her relatives a visit. Little does she know that they are forever cursed, beings that drink only the blood of the living to satisfy their thirst. Anyone who enters this abode risks being transformed into a creature of the night, doomed to wander the earth forever as one of the undead.

Visually stunning and expertly shot, Le Frisson des Vampires; Strange Things Happen at Night (or titled The Shivers of the Vampires) is rather fascinating. The film's lack of a good budget is rather obvious, for the costumes are odd-at one point the head vampires are both dressed as if they just came from Woodstock-yet that in addition to the movie's weak acting can be overlooked. However, Jean Rollin does not properly explore his themes enough, nor is he unable to build upon them to create a movie that is actually greater than the sum of its parts. This is a shame, as he tackles the vampire in a manner rather different and interesting than most directors normally do. Really he would have benefitted greatly from working with Hammer Studios, but by the 1970s Hammer was falling into decline.

There is also the matter of the last act, which is a bit surprising and quite haunting. A choice is made, the issue of opting for damnation instead of salvation sealed by, funny enough, strong blood ties. Others make a rather different choice, yet in the end no one really finds true happiness, save for a select lucky few. One could mediate upon these things, but they would only uncover that fate is a cruel mistress.

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