A surreal film featuring gorgeous vampires, Gallic vampire hippies and lashings of lesbian sex. Beautifully macabre, with eerie medieval castles coffins and a strange woman who emerges from a clock, The Shiver Of The Vampires is director Jean Rollin's third vampire fairytale. Remastered from the inter-negative with its original theatrical trailers.
Spoilers follow ...
- Shiver of the Vampires review by NP
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One of the many enjoyable things about the horror genre is the continual ability to surprise. I recently watched Blood for Irina (reviewed earlier), and read that it could be seen as Rollin-esque. This in turn lead me to take a look at a few films by French director Jean Rollin, who appeared to specialise in very stylistic, low-budget vampire films, beginning with the provocatively titled Le Viol du Vampire/Rape of the Vampire (1968).
Of all the few Rollin films I have seen (and I intend to see more), Le Frisson des Vampires/Shiver of the Vampire (his third) might be my favourite.
The plot is still thin and difficult to follow in places – but that is deliberate. Rollin seems instead to concentrate on imagery, atmosphere and mood. Shiver contains all these things. Equally typical, there is plenty of casual nudity which rarely actually comes across in an erotic way, rather as a perfunctory element of the whole, delirious dreamscape.
As one of the two serving girls, once again, is Marie Pierre Castel. Marie featured in a number of Rollin films, sometimes alongside her sister Catherine. Both girls are striking to look at, quite ethereal in fact, and here Marie is her usual rarely-speaking, somnambulistic subordinate who for once, appears to have a happy ending. Marie’s final Rollin role was in La Fiancee de Dracula/The Fiancee of Dracula (2002). Though not often required to do a great deal other than look alien, the Castels are mesmerising performers.
Here, the locations are truly stunning and deathly creepy. Huge castles and lush forestry, together with a freezing beach – another Rollin staple – often belie the sometimes stilted acting, especially from the two hippy/vampires.
Rarely, this film is afforded an actual ending. Often in the Rollin films I have seen, they end very suddenly, possibly as a result of his lack of budget or time constraints. No so here. There is a very final moment – which nevertheless invites the viewer to check out more of his work. Certainly, this is one of his most accessible, although no kind of compromise to ‘normal’ film-making in any way.