Daughters of Darkness (1970)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama, Gothic Film  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - Belgium, France  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Tom Wiener

The sexual dimension of vampire lore gets a full workout in this contemporary love quadrangle. Delphine Seyrig lends not only a touch of elegance to the proceedings but also the only serious acting chops among the four leads. She plays the Countess Elisabeth Bathory, a character based on a real Hungarian madwoman of the 17th century who believed she would stay forever young by bathing in the blood of her victims. There are no bloodbaths here; in fact, there is less biting and bloodletting than groping and caressing. The setting is not a creepy castle but an empty off-season hotel in Ostend, Belgium, where a young honeymooning couple (John Karlen and Daniele Ouimet) are stalked by the Countess and her "secretary" (Andrea Rau). Complicating the sexual geometry, in which the secretary is to seduce the groom as a distraction while the Countess moves in on the bride, is a dirty little secret that the husband is keeping from his wife. Director Harry Kümel doesn't rush the pace, which allows the viewer to enjoy the creepy atmosphere but also notice the unconvincing performances by Karlen and Ouimet, with Rau acceptable in the least demanding part. The director's cut is available on DVD, running 100 minutes.