This viewer will admit right off that he is more accustomed to horror movies of the more traditional kind. However, that doesn't mean that he can't appreciate what a movie like this tries to do. Harry Kumel's "Les Levres Rouges", a.k.a. "Daughters of Darkness", as I am sure has been said numerous times before, has higher aspirations than cheap thrills. (That doesn't mean, however, that fans hoping for a trash quotient won't get it, as there is a fairly generous dose of nudity, male and female, in one key scene.) It's stately, intelligent, and very deliberately paced, with a clear focus on character and ambiance. Now, there are some genuine shock moments and scenes of sudden violence, but they are few and far between.
The action, so to speak, is mostly set inside a vast, opulent hotel that a honeymooning couple is visiting in the wintertime. So, it is actually almost empty, until the couple, Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) make the acquaintance of sophisticated Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig), who just might be THE Elizabeth Bathory of real-life infamy, and her sultry companion, Ilona (Andrea Rau).
Enhanced by lovely music composed by Francois de Roubaix, the movie, just like its cagey main character, has a certain, seductive allure going for it; it's hard not to be captivated by Seyrigs' performance and hang on to every word she speaks. One can sense that her presence can only lead this young couple to some pretty dark places, as passionate impulse takes over and the violent side of Stefans' personality is more prone to emerge. In fact, as this story plays out, The Countess doesn't seem as bad as Stefan turns out to be.
The other actors do a fine job of reinforcing the notion that a substantial part of acting is REACTING, as their characters feel the influence of this sexy stranger. The atmosphere and mood of this movie are simply excellent, as right from the get go, there is a very somber feel to the characters and dialogue. Stefan and Valerie go so far as to admit that their relationship is not really based on love. Character details like this are given throughout; Stefan reacts with more than casual curiosity to being present at a murder scene, and when he and the Countess recount the horrific acts of Elizabeth Bathory, it arouses them more and more; Valerie yells at them to stop, and is it the sordid nature of what they speak, the fact that they're getting turned on, or both, that is unnerving Valerie? What the characters realize about themselves and the others becomes vitally important to what unfolds.
With its elements of lesbianism, eroticism, and sadomasochism, this is an interesting piece of cinema for patient viewers.
Seven out of 10.
Daughters of Darkness
Daughters of Darkness
A chic, good-looking and suitably 70's couple arrive at an extravagant and deserted seaside hotel after eloping. Stefan is wealthy and happily English, with a hidden streak of sadism, while Valarie is intelligent but of inferior (Swedish) blood. To keep her with him at the eerie hotel he lies consistantly about his relationship with his mother and his plans to tell her of their marriage. Meanwhile he has mysterious phone conversations with an older, dominant and pampered sissy. Two fresh guests arrive; the Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory and her voluptuous protege, Ilona. Virgin corpses begin showing up about the city drained of their blood. A wary detective lurks around the hotel taunting his only suspect, the Countess.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
November 01, 2020 at 08:56 PM