Requiem for a Vampire (1971)

The virgin vampire in the castle of orgies

Lesbian vampires are a popular sub-category within the erotic horror genre. There is much to like within this sub-category and plenty of cult favorites, including Vampyros Lesbos and others. The lesbian content is at a minimum here (so are the vampires, for that matter), but Requiem for a Vampire just marginally falls with this specialized genre.

Requiem for a Vampire (aka Requiem pour un Vampire; Vierge et Vampire; Caged Virgins) is directed by Jean Rollin, the French director of several cult films including The Grapes of Death, The Iron Rose, and Fascination. Requiem, like virtually everything Jean Rollin made, is a French film with an entirely French cast and, I’m certain, French sensibilities.

The central characters of the piece are two young women, virgins, escapees from some sort of reform school. They are not innocents in the traditional sense, beyond the whole virgin thing, and Rollin establishes that with the first sequence, a high speed chase through the countryside with both girls popping off random gunshots at their pursuers. I should also mention that our heroines are in full clown regalia, including make-up and costumes. This serves no discernible purpose other than contributing to the overall unhinged tone of the film.

Why are you making me hurt you?

Make no mistake–this movie is absolutely unhinged. We have whips and chains, horny thugs, piano solos, a rotted corpse, a gaggle of black hooded skeletons, a random arm sticking out of the wall, vampire orgies (including inappropriate vampire bat behavior), and a random foot chase through a castle straight out of an episode of Benny Hill. And I almost forgot the remarkably effective scene where a young woman is buried alive. That scene made me squirm more than the bondage orgy. Of course, that probably says more about me than it does about the movie.

The young women are played by Marie-Pierre Castel and Mireille Dargent. While both actresses appear in other Rollin projects, neither would still be making movies in the 80s. Both girls (Castel is blonde and Dargent redheaded) have a familiar French look for actresses within the erotic horror genre … fair skin, with big eyes and natural attractiveness. There is only a smattering of dialogue throughout, so it is hard to say how skilled either might be as an actress, but they certainly fit their roles in Requiem.

The remaining actors (mostly thugs and vampire wannabes) are not worth discussing. Philippe Gasté is something of a standout as Frederic, just for being a stud, even though he turns out to be a pit of a prick as well. I also found Michel Delesalle quite fascinating as “Le vieux vampire” or “the old vampire”. His is an understated, delightfully downbeat performance unlike any vampire ever depicted on film. Maybe if your vampire had a day job as a tax accountant during the off-season. Delasalle has only two other performances that appear on IMDB; one is a minor role in a movie called Sad Sacks Go to War. That, my friends, is kismet. Or irony. Maybe both.

CAUTION: Content Warning!

You have been blessed with the divine bite of the vampire.

Requiem is surreal throughout, with very little dialogue, set in a crumbling old castle. The movie includes two remarkable scenes. The first is a wild orgy in which three unnamed thugs attack three women, each of them chained and each, eventually, stripped naked and raped(?). I have to include the question mark since it is not quite clear exactly how willing or unwilling these women are. The assault is both somehow explicit and tame at the same time. The final “act” has to seen to be believed. Don’t ask me to give away any more than I already have.

The second scene of note takes place when one girl refuses to give up the location of her newly acquired male lover. This leads to one getting chained up and whipped by the other. Rollin has to be given a lot of credit here because this scene is cruel, lovely, tragic, and tender … all at the same time. And it’s not because I’m just a bit twisted either.

A third scene here gets honorable mention. At one point, the girls try to run away only to find themselves returning to the castle over and over again. It is a scene, literally, straight out of a nightmare. Quite chilling.

Mirielle Dargent & Marie-Pierre Castel

As I mentioned before, the lesbian content is very subtle. You’ll miss it if you blink at the wrong time. The rest of the sex is more traditional, even if most of it involves chains. But the best thing about this film is the resolution. Without giving anything away, it is completely different than almost any vampire flick I’ve ever seen.

I’ve seen a lot of vampire flicks.

Requiem for a Vampire

The Good

Scenery including sweeping French vistas with adequate camera work; guns, guns, guns (with endless ammunition); an odd but unexpectedly satisfying conclusion.

The Bad

Obviously low budge with 'C' or 'D' level actors (or worse) including cute young French girls with fuzzy armpits; a minimally coherent plot and minimal dialogue; fully unremarkable score; tame bloodletting for a vampire film; tolerably dubbed in English (from the original French).

The Ugly

Pretty batty, including an oddly lit dungeon sex scene; whips and chains; plenty of random nudity; a touch of gore; and a Benny Hill level chase scene.

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