DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971) Movie Review

If someone were to try and explain this movie to me, I get the feeling that I would be predisposed to hate it.

The prospect of an erotic vampire film that results in a lot of style-over-substance concessions brings back vivid flashbacks of Tony Scott’s The Hunger, and frankly, that just sounds a bit icky.

Regardless, as much as movies that put more effort into creating pretty shots tend to get under my skin in general, Daughters of Darkness is a shockingly intriguing and off-putting vampire story. And much to my surprise, many of the qualities that make this film work lie in its overall appearance and the genuinely beautiful cinematography on display throughout its running time.

The main difference here as opposed to something like The Hunger, is that the whole of the proceedings feel very much in tune with their gothic / noir roots. With shots that play with darkness and shadows to a gorgeous effect whilst juxtaposed with scenes of vivid, arresting colors. With this of course, there are occasional scenes that don’t hold great significance plot-wise that seem to be present just for a visual flourish, (Like when Bathory stands in a long shot and spreads her robe to resemble a bat) yet these additions do add flavor to what is happening that strengthens the overall mood even further. And one thing that should be said about Daughters of Darkness is that it is a movie that lives and dies by its mood.

By contrast, the acting is fairly typical of a B-movie in that the players often come across as simply adequate or, in their off moments, a bit noncommittal.

That isn’t to entirely put the cast at fault because at times, the script doesn’t provide a great deal to play up, perhaps with the exception of John Karlen as Stefan whose character takes a couple of interesting Jack Torrance-y turns throughout the tale (and as the setting for this is a hotel, things start to feel really Shining-esque).

However, Delphine Seyrig who portrays Elizabeth Bathory is the one performance that stands above everyone else around her and fittingly so. As the strange and alluring vampiric presence, she emits a definite aura of enigmatic elegance while being able to turn on a dime and become a possessive and sinister force.

Sure, there are aspects to the unfolding of this yarn that fall a bit short of the mark (that “mother” character specifically was more than a bit puzzling), but even with it’s flaws, Daughters of Darkness excels as a strangely beautiful stylistic horror movie with an inescapable and unforgettable haunting effect.

Rating: 4 out of 5

~ Stephen

Vía Letterboxd – The Paper Masque blog

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