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Rape of The Vampire, The
The Rape of the Vampire may sound like a deliciously trashy Roger Corman or Hammer flick but it is actually a completely bizarre French film from 1967. Shot in the black and white style of Night of the Living Dead, The Rape of the Vampire is a strange combination of melodrama, philosophy, and different mysticisms run through the filter of Sixties psychedelia. That description probably makes the film sound like more fun than it is, but the attempt to combine so many different genres is commendable.
The story seems to involve a group of four young women, who may or may not be vampires, living in a creepy old manor acting strange. A couple appear along with a doctor with the intention of figuring out what the women's conditions are and curing them. From this point on the film is a series of left turns. Townspeople get angry (at who it's tough to tell) and riot Frankenstein-style. Some of the vampire-women fight amongst themselves, one claims to be blind but may in fact not be, and a whole lot of running around takes place. The first half-hour or so ends with every major character dead. Then, incredibly, a whole new opening credit sequence begins. The Rape of the Vampire was originally a short that was extended to feature length after completion. This extension, however, is one of the most sudden edits in film history. It becomes practically an entirely new movie, losing the idyllic country setting and becoming an even more surreal hospital drama involving the vampire queen, zombie-like fresh vamp recruits, and the cast of the first half, newly resurrected (some without explanation). It is difficult to keep what's going on straight, however, as many of the characters look the same and much of the dialog is vague pseudo-poetry.
A surprising number of images suggest drug use, from the bong-like blood jars to the cure for vampirism, which has go to be a symbol for heroin. It's not clear if the film is a critique of drug use or simply an attempt to capitalize on late-Sixties sensibilities, but the film is definitely not a standard vampire movie. The images on the packaging are clearly not taken from the film (they look about twenty years too new) and don't give a sense for what this film feels like. Some early sequences look like they could have been lifted from Mark Borschardt's Coven while other parts are quite lyrical. Overall the film is a mess, but it's worth a look for vampire flick fans and those who appreciate the kinkier side of classic horror.
The slightly widescreen transfer looks pretty good, considering the obscurity of the film. There is some dirt and damage to the print and sometimes it looks a bit washed out. The film stock is grainy, as it must originally have been and this is no one's idea of a reference disc, but overall it looks fine.
The 1.0 Mono soundtrack is ok, if a bit echoey, during dialog, but during any music it shows its limitations. The soundtrack, made up of a mess of classical, jazz, and noise sources, goes into the red whenever more than three instruments play at the same time. It is muffled and has no real separation of sounds.
A trailer and a gallery of stills.
The Rape of the Vampire is an unusual film that deserves to be on DVD. It may not make much sense but it has a vision and it sticks to it.