Daughters of Darkness (1971) - Harry Kümel

Intriguing Erotic Vampire Film
★★★

Directed by Harry Kümel
Produced by Paul Coilet and Alain C. Guilleaume
Written by Harry Kümel, J.J. Amiel and Pierre Drouot
Starring: Delphine Seyrig, Danielle Ouimet, John Karlen and Andrea Rau
Release date: October 22, 1971
Countries: Belgium, France and West Germany
STUDIOS: GEMINI RELEASING & MARON FILMS

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Daughters of Darkness is a 1971 erotic horror film from Belgium, directed by Harry Kümel and produced by Showking films. It’s an artsy picture that was made during the lesbian vampire boom of the early seventies. The movie has a good mix of international actors led by French actress, Delphine Seyrig and American actor, John Karlen. It’s a movie I hadn’t heard about before. However, I had found it featured on The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs. A great show on Shudder for those that love horror.

The film focuses on a newlywed couple Stefan and Valerie, played by Danielle Ouimet and John Karlen. They are staying at a vacant grand hotel in Ostend, Belgium that just happens to open in this oFF season. The two are madly in love and are expecting to be alone in the hotel, that is until the mysterious Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory (Seyrig) and her “secretary” arrive well after sundown. The countess takes an interest in the couple, while the city begins to suffer the wrath of an unknown serial murderer. A murderer that is draining their victims of That sweet sweet blood. 

Filmmaker Harry Kümel had a lot of issues while filming. One of which was striking his actress, Danielle Ouimet in an argument while filming a scene. The altercation had infuriated actor, John Karlin, who struck Kümel after hearing the news. The situation became incredibly tense but didn’t seem to derail the quality of the picture. It really is expertly made. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. Delphine Seyrig wasn’t keen on the role but ended up knocking it out of the park. She is… intense.

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Countess Báthory is a vampire, but that isn’t the main focus of the picture. There is a fair deal of horrific encounters and stereotypical vampire tropes, like the countess using the blood of her victims to stay young and beautiful. However, the film focuses on erotic domination and power over this poor newlywed couple. The horror elements play mere elements in the background with nameless victims having their throats slashed, mostly off camera.

Daughters of Darkness is entertaining enough but has a few boring scenes. It has a great deal of nudity and sexual content. So it isn’t recommended for the younger viewers. However, if you are a fan of movies like The Hunger or even Bram Stoker’s Dracula, then this would be perfect for you. It has a very Fifty Shades of Grey kind of quality about it. Not scary, but weirder and off-putting.

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