Tuesday, January 6, 2009


French director Jean Rollin's "Two Orphan Vampires"(1996), is an excellent, atmospheric, beautifully filmed, dreamlike horror movie. Jean Rollin's movies combine violence, eroticism, and surrealism, making for a unique viewing experience. I have only seen two other Rollin movies, "the Grapes of Death" and "Rape of the Vampire". "Two Orphan Vampires" is slightly tamer, but packs a powerful punch just the same.

The movie is based on a series of novels written by Jean Rollin himself. It concerns two gorgeous orphan vampires who are blind during the day but can see at night. They light they perceive is blue, so many scenes from their perspective are filmed in blue light. When the movie first starts they are living in a Catholic orphanage. The nuns take care of them during the day, but at night when their vision returns, they sneak out and hunt their next victim, careful to return to the orphanage before the nuns awake. They are soon taken in by an eye doctor, who vows to find a way to make them see again. The problem is, these two orphans are very violent. They have a misleading innocence about them. They cannot stay in any one place too long, because they like their independence and their blood lust sometimes becomes too much for them to control.

The two orphans meet several bizarre creatures in their night time wanderings. A ghoul on the beach, a female werewolf that lives in a rail yard, another female vampire wearing bat wings that lives underneath a church in a beautiful, huge cave filled with candy colored lighting...
Their wanderings have a dreamlike quality, and this movie as whole follows the logic of a dream.
Jean Rollin is very reserved in this movie, saving most of the violence towards the end, building you a up to a bizarre, climactic finish that will not disappoint.

Rollin's movies can be difficult at times, and this movie is no different. Sometimes things make sense. Sometimes they don't. At times the pace of this movie is exhilarating and sometimes it crawls to a near standstill, letting your mind wander as if in a dream...
I love this movie. It is not perfect by any means, but it will keep you entertained and it is very beautiful to look at. And by the way, watch it in the original French language version with English subtitles. The DVD has an option for this feature.

Here's a short clip from the movie. Not one of the best scenes, but it's all I could find.


David Abstract said...

It it just me, or was that scene just an excuse for some hot lesbian/incest action?

I agree with you about watching non-English films with subtitles - often the dub is so annoying it's the only way to enjoy the picture.

Only film where this doesn't apply: Persepolis - they put a decent amount of effort into getting good actors (Iggy Pop!) plus the subtitles where black and white on a black and white background - not good.

Kny said...

Interesting. I'll look this one up too.

Steve Smith said...

I agree with you David about the black and white subtitles on a black and white background. That can be annoying. As far as that scene goes, you can look at it like that, but it's par for the course for Jean Rollin.

Yeah, Kny, you should look it up. I like the 3 Rollin films I've seen so far, and I want to see more.