Friday, May 17, 2013

The Shiver of the Vampires (1971) Review

The Shiver of the Vampires poster
Director: Jean Rollin
Stars: Sandra Julien, Marie Pierre Castel
Genre: Horror

French director Jean Rollin's third film which also happens to be his third film about naked vampires.

A couple of newlyweds decide to visit the wife's cousins, whom live in a castle, for their honeymoon. Except when they arrive they find out that her cousins are dead...and by dead I mean they're vampires. And so from there the plot unfolds.

Rollin isn't exactly known for having straightforward or even coherent plots, but this one is fairly simple, for a Rollin film at least. It's easy to follow and understand (for the most part; it's still a bit confusing at times) but it's still quite an engaging story and enjoyable throughout. A Rollin film is hardly ever about the story though.

This film is very beautiful, somewhat on a poetic and writing level but mostly in its cinematography and imagery. Some people seem to complain that Rollin's first film, The Rape of the Vampire, was a bit pretentious and overdone when it came to camerawork and imagery (I happen to disagree with such an statement) but those people should be happy to know that The Shiver of the Vampires manages to have some wonderful camera angles and whatnot but in a completely non-intruding way.

Of course it's a bit of a challenge to do imagery and camerawork justice with words; it's something you have to see for yourself. There's great use of lighting as well, with red, green, and blue glows in every scene, sometimes reminding me of the red lighting used years later in Dario Argento's Suspiria. There's also a fabulous soundtrack. Whereas The Rape of the Vampire had a No Wave Jazz sound this film has a Psychedelic Rock sound. It's very suiting to the film and is actually done quite well; a joy to the ears.

The Shiver of the Vampires film still

This wonderful imagery and cinematography and lighting and score, as you may expect, form a very unique atmosphere. Which is perhaps the film's strongest point--it's atmosphere, which is an odd fusion of Surreal, Psychedelic, and Gothic. 

Marie Pierre Castel in The Shiver of the Vampires
Marie Pierre Castel nude in The Shiver of the Vampires

There's the obligatory nudity and eroticism that nearly all Rollin's films have. It's nowhere near as explicit as some of Rollin's later work, but it's not often that you'll find a woman with all her clothes on. It's never really gratuitous nudity though...at least not completely.

Sandra Julien nude in The Shiver of the Vampires

Another great film from the master of vampire lesbians, Jean Rollin. One of my favorite films from him. A fine example of Atmospheric Horror done well. 


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