Fun, highly stylized and sexy horror film.
Daniel Hirshleifer | Los Angeles, California USA | 06/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film, like all of Jean Rollin's films, is not for everyone. He has a style all his own, which is on display in this movie. This film is notable for the hippie cousins, who are funnier than any other Rollin characters in any of his films. The DVD transfer is very clean and clear, some peopl have remarked that they couldn't believe it was made in the 70's. If you're a fan of this type of horror film, and keep in mind this isn't normal horror, then this one is quintessential."
Visionary vampire film
Ava Lomax | Carrboro, NC United States | 03/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No one makes movies like Jean Rollin, and this is his masterpiece. Like most of his visions it seems to be about innocence and corruption, the attraction Evil has to Good,(and vice versa,)and the discovery of beauty in the unlikeliest of places. This movie is very sexy, very slow, very weird. The music, lighting, absurd dialogue, and slow pacing help create a more poetic and imagistic type of film than we're used to here in the go-go States. If your taste in vampire movies runs more toward the Alyssa Milano variety then you'll probably not like this--it has more in common with Pasolini's Arabian Nights than The Hunger. And the DVD edition is terrific, with a trailer, photo gallery, and Redemption's trademark gothed-out lesbo introduction (which rates five stars all by itself.)"
Interview With the Foppish Vampire
skytwo | Boston | 03/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm wild about Euro-horror from the sixties and seventies. And while France doesn't have the same reputation as Italy, largely thanks to the brilliant giallos of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, France does have the mighty legacy of Louis Feuillade and the Grand Guignol. But those are largely silent-era thrills.
Jean Rollin's 'Shiver of the Vampires,' a title that screams high camp, is a shoestring production that, while possessing little of the directorial innovation of Italy's horror greats, does make much of France's own horror legacy. And as you might suspect, it's very theatrical in its merits.
The budget was minimal, as evidenced by the graffiti marring virtually every wall of the film's 'inhabited' castle (although the exterior photography is outstanding) and that awful strawberry-icing blood. And like an amateurish theatrical production, the viewer is expected to bear with the proceedings in spite of silly continuity errors (and there are some doozies here, especially when an actor who has "left the room" is clearly visible in a mirror for the rest of the scene) and melodramatic acting that would make Nora Desmond blush.
But the film is filled with memorable shots and absolutely unforgettable characters, namely the three vampires who haunt the castle grounds. Isolde is pure Grand Guignol, milking every scene with overwrought posturing and campy menace-- but when she's dealing with scenes involving murder by nipple-spikes, it seems like the only appropriate response. She even looks as though she just stepped out of an Edward Gorey illustration. Five bonus points for her Art Deco wardrobe. The undead brothers, who dress like Austin Powers and speak like Charles Nelson Reilly, are surely worthy of a footnote in contemporary vampire lore for their effeminate-Victorian characterizations. My mouth was literally hanging open in stunned awe every time they were on camera in their Carnaby Street couture delivering their pseudo-intellectual soliloquies. And, as anyone familiar with Rollin's work knows, there are the women. The achingly beautiful women, always on hand to provide a cheap thrill and some gratuitous nudity. One brilliantly laughable scene has two gorgeous young castle servants-- tasked with waking the male protagonist one morning-- decide that hopping into bed with him and teasing him awake through manual stimulation is the only sensible approach. Only to run giggling from the room when he does awaken, of course.
While 'surreal' is an appropriate description, the plot actually makes perfect sense and employs plenty of established 'vampire lore,' in addition to hinting at a tantalizingly-structured vampire society with its own castes and rulers. Having the vampires' servants conceal the cemetery's crucifixes beneath silk scarves at nightfall was a nice touch (even though that, too, is undone by a continuity gap in the film) in that regard, as well as the 'class struggle' between Isolde and the brothers, social superiors she turned to vampirism who begin to wonder why they shouldn't still be upper-crust after death.
And I haven't even mentioned the occasional use of psychedelic guitar-driven rock over the course of the film. All told, it plays out like an over-baked production by a community theater rebel, and 'Shiver of the Vampires' sticks to its guns every campy step of the way. And although the music isn't as good as the legendary 'Vampyros Lesbos' soundtrack, it ain't half bad.
While serious-minded viewers looking to discover another Argento will be sorely disappointed, the campy-yet-sincere aesthetic of this film qualify it for status as a minor classic. Especially since we'll never have the chance to take in a performance at the legendary Parisian theater of the horrific.
On a final note, one has to assume that these films had a tremendous influence on Anne Rice and her (in my opinion dreadful) vampire novels. Homoerotic subtext delivered with a sledgehammer, the blood of animals as an intro for the newly-undead, conflicted & self-hating bloodsuckers and a vampiric class struggle. It's all here. Rollin's films might be too theatrical by half and cheaply-made, but there's no doubt that they deserve a place in the canon of contemporary horror. Particularly because his vampires are the logical followers and forebears in vampire evolution over the twentieth century.