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Daughters of Darkness(1971)
Elizabeth Bathory is an ageless Countess with a beautiful young 'companion' and a legendary legacy of perversion. But when the two women seduce a troubled newlywed couple, they unleash a frenzy of sudden violence and depraved desire that shocked both art house audiences and grindhouse crowds worldwide.
For more about Daughters of Darkness and the Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray release, see Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 20, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Ouimet, Andrea Rau
Director: Harry Kümel
» See full cast & crew
Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray Review
As opposed to Sons of Light.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 20, 2011
Human blood was the elixir of youth.
Believe it or not, there was a time, many moons ago, when Vampires weren't hotbod sparkly teenagers bickering over petty love interests and rivalries with equally hunky werewolves. There was a time before Vampirism had been reduced to something only a little more challenging than a cheap after school special, and there was even a time before the days of Vampire movies that were more about guns and violence than they were about the art of seduction and the quiet, inner terrors and outer eroticisms that defined a generation of Vampire pictures. Daughters of Darkness is one such movie of the latter category, a quintessential 1970s Erotica film that's more about subdued styling, characterization, and hints of the off-limits rather than bunches of phony emotions, cheap dialogue, soft-core sex, and gratuitous violence better left for straight-up Action pictures. Directed by Harry Kümel, Daughters of Darkness is a deliberately-paced thinking man's Erotica Vampire film, the picture a meshing of the art house and drive-in styles whereby it is extravagant and smartly-crafted but also obviously done a bit on the cheap. Though low on actual physical and visual violence and eroticism, Daughters of Darkness works more on the implied, is structured more around the spoken word, and depends on its characters and their interactions to subtly and slowly but most assuredly build an engaging tale of seduction, uncertainty, and fear that's more deeply-rooted in the heart of the film as opposed to what is generally nowadays a more superficially-dependent genre.
Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) are newlyweds who become stranded in an extravagant hotel in Ostend when their train is forced to stop thanks to a derailment somewhere on down the line. In between lovemaking sessions, Valerie becomes more and more perplexed as to why her husband seems resistant to the idea of introducing his bride to his mother, let alone breaking the news of their wedding to her. Meanwhile, Valerie grows concerned when Stefan seems transfixed with a recent string of murders around town. Their stay in the otherwise unoccupied hotel is further interrupted by the arrival of the seductive Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig, Last Year at Marienbad) and her younger assistant, Ilona Harczy (Andrea Rau). The hotel's manager swears he's seen the Countess, 40 years ago, in fact, and not looking a day older now than she did decades past. The countess cozies up to the newlyweds and the young couple tries to figure out her angle. Will the countess' arrival merely serve to pass the time, or will she and her assistant manage to tear apart the seemingly fragile love and marriage that's already plagued with problems only days after the ceremony?
Daughters of Darkness is a character film; it's centered around character interaction and drama, leaving behind blatant violence and sex in favor of something a bit more deep and true to more traditional Vampire lore. It's a film that succeeds thanks to its reserved nature, willingness to build characters slowly and steadily, and to craft its very center through a structurally simplistic but thematically complex series of dialogues and actions. It's a deliberately slow picture, one of those movies where the pacing is an asset even if it is occasionally sloth-like compared to more recent fare. The film uses visual and audible clues to help set stages and make implications about the characters and the plot, and it's only when the story absolutely requires it does the film engage in more general action and erotica scenes. Director Harry Kümel's picture succeeds because it never strays from its intentions, established stylings, or plan of attack. The film holds steady and engages its audience through the duration, and some "slower" stretches actually play as welcome segments as the film toys with viewers through the subtlety of the story and the filmmaking process at large.
A film of this structure, style, and pace requires a talented cast to help pull it off, and Daughters of Darkness features several engaging performances that pull the movie together into a cohesive entity. Delphine Seyrig is fantastic as the ageless Countess who is alluring and sly, welcoming but at the same time distant. She plays the film's centerpiece character with an extraordinary attention to balance, walking the line between seductive and dangerous with an almost frightening effortlessness. She's no doubt the star of the show, the actress off of whom the others feed and whereby their performances seem elevated almost by the mere fact of being in her presence and working against the way she so perfectly plays her character. The performances of Andrea Rau, John Karlen, and Danielle Ouimet, then, play as secondary not to the plot but to the incredible effort of Delphine Seyrig. Daughters of Darkness pulls off the character angle quite well, building its story through interactions, sly maneuvers, and subtle developments. While a clever script is at the foundation of the film's success, it's the acting that's the face of the movie and the factor that really brings it all together.
Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray, Video Quality
Daughters of Darkness arrives on Blu-ray with a nice-looking 1080p transfer, but it's not one without flaws. As for the good first, Blue Underground's release sports good-looking details as evidenced by the quality of the lush hotel appointments , the texture of a brick façade, or the fine stitches and adornments on clothing. Viewers will enjoy a fair sense of depth, too, as seen, for instance, in the sprawling hotel lobby scenes. Colors are generally cold and sterile and neutral, but reds -- the film's primary bright shade -- can be blindingly brilliant in spots. Blacks are generally good and crush is only a minor concern. Flesh tones appear nicely balanced throughout the movie. A fair bit of spiky, heavy grain is retained over the image, but the print appears free of excess damage -- scratches, pops, dirt, and the like. Unfortunately, banding, blocking, occasional edge enhancement, and some aliasing are all present throughout the movie, enough to knock down the score and rise to the level of "eyesore" in a few places, but Blue Underground's transfer is generally a nice-looking one of vintage quality. The good certainly outweighs the bad.
Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Daughters of Darkness debuts on Blu-ray with a paltry but efficient DTS-HD MA 1.0 soundtrack. The track is, obviously, extremely limited in range by its very nature, but it's still not without issues. The track often plays as chunky, cramped, and tinny, delivering a fairly unsatisfying listen but one that nevertheless must be balanced against what must be low-grade original elements. Dialogue, screams, and the like can play as somewhat high pitched, occasionally sounding almost detached from the picture, not meshing particularly well against the on-screen visuals. General ambience, of course, is focused straight up the middle, but the track manages to get a fair bit of mileage out of seagulls, a blowing fog horn, and the like, none of which may fill the soundstage with sonic bliss but that do add a bit of life to a decidedly bland track. There's not much to this one outside of dialogue and some cramped musical cues. It gets the job done and is generally fine for what it is and the sort of movie it accompanies. Smart and realistic expectations are key going in.
Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Daughters of Darkness features an excellent collection of film-related supplements, including two audio commentary tracks and several enlightening interviews. The inclusion of a bonus feature-length film earns this release a rare perfect supplemental score, even if most extras appear in standard definition.
Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Though this is not a traditionally "enjoyable" picture in the "mindless" sense of the term, it is one that's fairly smart, handsomely photographed, and accompanied by several great performances, headlined by Delphine Seyrig who delivers a wonderfully diabolic and highly complex effort hidden behind a façade of high class and mental and physical temptations. Daughters of Darkness is a prime example of the more laid back, quiet, deliberate sort of Vampire/Erotica pictures that were a favorite of the 1970s. Though its eroticism is often more implied and felt than it is physically projected onto the screen, the film oozes sensuality and sexual tension and makes for a fascinating and satisfying, but not necessarily entertaining, motion picture. Blue Underground's Blu-ray release of Daughters of Darkness features a fair technical presentation and an excellent array of extra content, including a bonus feature-length picture. Recommended.
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Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray Delayed - November 5, 2010
Blue Underground has changed the release date of the 1971 psychosexual thriller Daughters of Darkness, originally announced for December 21 and which now will come out on February 22, 2011. The studio has said that the reason for the delay was that they needed ...
• Daughters of Darkness Blu-ray in December - September 5, 2010
Blue Underground has announced Daughters of Darkness for Blu-ray release on December 21. This 1971 erotic vampire movie will be presented in its uncensored director's cut, with 1080p 1.66:1 video and monoaural DTS-HD Master Audio sound. Extras are the same as those ...
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