Saturday, February 12, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: Daughters of Darkness (1971)

When I was kid, before VCRs, there was no way to see the movies unless they played on television.  This was great for mainstream movies, but anything else was impossible.  Therefore, I had to use my imagination to create my version of a film by studying a few frames from a book or magazine about horror movies.  Harry Kümel's stylish vampire film, Daughter of Darkness was one of those tantalizing movies.  Every book on horror movies tantalized me with this images like the one to the right.

Olivia and I were able to watch Daughters of Darkness a few nights ago.   It is a beautiful and subtle film that re-watching brings more enjoyment and understanding.  I grabbed some screen captures to show some of the beautiful imagery from the film.

The Daughters of Darkness begins on a train;  aristocratic Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet), are newlyweds, on their way to England to introduce the naive and childlike bride to his Stefan's mother.

They get off the train in the Belgian resort city of Ostend, which is practically deserted for the winter. 

 They have the luxurious hotel to themselves, enjoying the gorgeous suite and fine dining room. Stefan puts off resuming their trip to England.  Valerie presses him on about continuing their journey.  Kümel allows the audience to see that Stefan has a secret and he wants to stay away.  

In the beginning of Daughters of Darkness, Kümel splashes the screen with bold colors that  eventually fade and turn muddy.

The Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) and her companion, Ilona (Andrea Rau) arrive at the hotel.The countess immediately becomes enchanted with the newly weds, much to Ilona's jealousy. She tries to argue with Elizabeth, but the countess quickly calms her. This scene begins with bright colors such as the countess's purple gown,and Ilona's bright red scarf but fades to red, a recurring  trick used through out the film. 

The scene ominously fades to red

The corpse's transfer is filmed from the perspective of the corpse 
Stefan and Valerie go to nearby Bruges,where they discover a crime scene; another young woman has been found dead, drained of blood. Stefan is very excited and as he struggles to get to the head of the crowd to see the corpse, he knocks Valerie over.  She is shocked by the intensity of his desire to see the corpse.

Stefan's brutish side continues to reveal itself back at the hotel where he savagely beats Valerie with his belt.  She flees, and the Countess  takes this opportunity to use Ilona to seduce Stefan. 

With the Countess now in control, Daughters of Darkness takes place in the time between dusk and dawn.   She intercepts Valerie at the train station and persuades her to return to Stefan.  Kümel makes excellent use of the moonlight and Ostend's architectural to create a moody space for the Countess and Valerie to walk through.

Stefan's brutality is repaid in kind by Valerie and the Countess
The Countess claims victory

Every ending is some other endings beginning.

No comments: