Requiem for a Vampire (1971)
Directed by Jean Rollin

Starring Marie-Pierre Castel Mireille Dargent

In Rollins' weaker films, the low budgets just seem to defeat him. "Night of the Hunted" and his very weakest, "Zombie Lake," both seemed over-stretched by their non-existent budgets, as if Rollin went ahead and made them knowing that he just plain didn't have enough money to give them justice.

"Requiem" suffers from the same malady, although it's not as bad as either of those two movies. In fact, its last half is OK if you're a Rollin fan. But you have to wade through a lot of unbelievable, pointless, meandering material to get there. Two gun-toting virgin schoolgirls (Castel and Dargent, who had small parts in the superior "Lips of Blood") dressed in clown outfits are in a car chase, followed by gunmen. They evade their would-be captors, but the man they're with dies in the gunfight. The two girls wander about aimlessly in their clown costumes, using their skills at seduction to steal food from a vendor, then hide in a cemetery. Eventually, they wander into a chateau, which happens to be home to a group of rather ridiculous-looking vampires -- not to mention a dungeon where a number of naked women are chained up.

Eventually, they learn that the man in charge of the chateau is the world's last vampire. His followers are sub-vampires not fully transformed into bloodsuckers and can therefore operate in daylight. To become vampires in their own right, the two girls must be deflowered by the cape-wearing blood sucker. But one of them manages to lose her virginity to a handsome stranger beforehand, and a conflict erupts between the two girls: One is totally loyal to the vampire, the other wants out of the situation.

Like I said earlier, this film has its moments. The idea of the last living vampire struggling to hang onto life as his power is fading is a pretty cool one. But it takes so long to get there. In the film's weakest scene, one of the virgins is being mistakenly buried alive by a pair of clueless grave diggers, who don't realize someone has fallen into a grave, lying unconscious on the coffin. As the other virgin watches her friend being covered in dirt, she does nothing to stop it. Why? So much of the first half just features the girls wandering about. The clown costumes makes it a little Fellini-esque, but it's not enough to sustain our interest for a good 40 minutes of just plain old wandering. In short, Rollin obviously didn't have the money he needed to make a solid movie, and it shows. Still, fans of the director may want to catch it. It isn't total crap like "Zombie Lake."

It was released on video in the U.S. under the title "Caged Virgins," and actually made it into some U.S. theaters too. Of all his films, however, this is definitely one of the least worthy of much American attention.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


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