Le Viol du Vampire

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Le Viol du Vampire
Viol-Vampire, jean rollin-1968.jpg
Original poster
Directed by Jean Rollin
Written by Jean Rollin
Starring Solange Pradle
Bearard Letrou
Catherine Deville
Ursule Pauly
Nicole Romain
Marquis Polho
Louise Horn
Jacqueline Sieger
Music by Yvon Garault
Edited by Jean-Denis Bonan
Mireille Abramovici
Distributed by Les Films ABC
Release dates
  • May 1968 (1968-05)
Running time 90 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget ₣500,000

Le Viol du Vampire (English title: The Rape of the Vampire, also known as Queen of the Vampires) is a 1968 film directed by Jean Rollin. It was his directorial debut. The film consists of two parts: The Rape of the Vampire, and The Vampire Woman/Queen of the Vampires. Originally, the film was only supposed to be a short, but a second part was filmed and added later so that it was to be released as a feature film.[1]

The poetic spirit and strong inspiration of American serials did not seem to attract viewers or critics at the time of its release, because of the terrible reception and the film provoked a scandal.[2]

Although the film was seen in a negative view on the time of its release. Le Viol du Vampire remains an important film in the works of Jean Rollin. Indeed, several themes developed in his subsequent feature films are already there: not only vampires are fascination with old cemeteries, but also lesbianism and a pronounced taste for eroticism. Some scenes and some characters were even copied almost identically in his other films.

Synopsis[edit]

The Rape of the Vampire[edit]

Four sisters living in an old château are convinced that they are vampires. One believes she was raped by the villagers years before, and is blind; another is afraid of sunlight, and they all react violently to crucifixes. The sisters are being manipulated by a sinister old man who alternates between admonishing them to kill newcomers that threaten their exposure and groping their breasts. The four seem to worship a bestial idol in the forest who speaks to them with a disembodied voice.

The newcomers are three Parisians by the names of Thomas (Bernard Letrou), Brigitte (Solange Pradle), and Marc (Marquis Polho), who have come to the countryside to cure the sisters of their so-called illness. They do not believe that the sisters are vampires, they don't believe in vampires at all. Thomas is a psychoanalist who determined to cure them from their madness which he believes has been induced by the superstitious villagers who have driven the confused women insane with their religious symbols and persecution. He tries to convince them that crucifixes do nothing to them, sunlight won't harm them, and the blind sister can actually see. He takes all of this as proof that their vampirism is all in their minds. When one of the sisters fall for Thomas' charms, the old man orders another sister to kill him, Brigitte, and Marc, and when this fails he unleashes the peasants who brutally murder all the women they can find, which also includes Brigitte.

Thomas asks one of the sisters to bite him to prove her wrong and discovers she is, in fact, a vampire. It seems he has been misled by his own preconceptions. The two flee to the beach and are gunned down by Marc who is distraught by Brigitte's death, at the hands of the peasants.

Queen of the Vampires/The Vampire Woman[edit]

The vampire queen (Jacqueline Sieger) is introduced. She briefly arrives by boat to the beach where the dead couple lies. She commands her hooded cohort to grab the old man and pin him down to the slab of rock, she then proceeds to sacrifice him and licks the knife covered in his blood. The vampire queen tells her leading female minion to dismember the bodies of Thomas and the vampire sister so that they don't come back to life, but she fails. It is later revealed that she is in rebellion against the vampire queen. The blood from the old man revives Thomas and the vampire sister.

The human doctor who runs the demented clinic is under the supervision of the vampire queen and he has been secretly searching for a cure for vampirism.

The vampires abduct Brigitte's body from the cenotaph and Thomas later discovers that Brigitte is alive, she tells him that he imagined the entire trip, but he doesn't believe her. He follows her to the hospital where she is listening to an instruction tape, he stops the tape and kills her.

The doctor's plot is later uncovered, while the vampire queen stages a ceremony to marry the doctor to his assistant, her minions strip the assistant and whip her on the beach. The malcontents have not bowed to her rule and the revolution explodes, which ends with the vampires being killed and the vampire queen poisoned. Thomas and the vampire wall themselves in the cellar to await death, they do not wish to feed on the living, but are too afraid that if they stay free, their thirst will drive them to murder, so they sacrifice themselves instead, ending their freedom in each other's arms.[3]

Cast[edit]

  • Solange Pradle as Brigitte
  • Bernard Letrou as Thomas
  • Catherine Deville
  • Ursule Pauly
  • Nicole Romain as Marc
  • Marquis Polho
  • Louise Horn
  • Doc Moyle
  • Yolande Leclerc
  • Philippe Druilette
  • Jean Aron
  • Mei Chen
  • Edith Ponceau-Lardie
  • Jean-Denis Bonan
  • Jacqueline Sieger as the Vampire Queen (uncredited)
  • Ariane Sapriel (uncridited)
  • Alain Yves Beaujour (uncredited)
  • Annie Merlin (uncredited)
  • Oliver Rollin (uncredited)
  • Barbara Girard (uncredited)
  • Jean Rollin (uncredited)

Production[edit]

Le Viol du Vampire open at a French theatre

In 1967, French retailer Jean Lavie, owner of a Paris network of small theatres including The Scarlett, Styx, and Midi Minuit, ordered Jean Rollin a short film on the them of vampires to serve a prologue to an old American fantasy film of the 1940s, The Vampire, A Creature of the Devil, which he had bought the rights and planned to rebroadcast. At the time, Rollin was still an apprentice film director, having only done his early short films and documentaries, but he wanted to embark on more ambitious projects and specialize in particular in the fantasy genre, he accepted the proposal from Lavie enthusiastically. With Parisian producer of America, Sam Selsky, he managed to receive a budget of 200,000 francs, which gave him the opportunity to assemble a small team and start shooting a film.

Casting[edit]

Along with his assistants and technicians, Rollin could not bring in professional actors due to the low budget. Among the cast, who were the four vampire sisters, two of which were Ursule Pauly, a mannequin, and Nicole Romain (a stripper) played the blind vampire sister. Solange Pradel (Brigitte), Bernard Letrou (Thomas), and Marquis Polho (Marc), who played the three heroes had never been in a movie before and all the other cast were in the same situation. None of them had undergone training in drama, except Ariane Sapriel.

Filming[edit]

The filming of Le Viol du Vampire began in 1967 and took place almost entirely in the Paris suburbs, at Claye-Souilly, around an old abandoned house which served as the home of the four vampire sisters. The woods and fields around furnished the framework for the outdoor sequences. Only the death of Thomas and the vampire sister was not filmed in Île-de-France. In turn, Rollin chose a beach near Normandy, Pourville-lès-Dieppe, which was dear to his heart since his teens and had already used as setting in 1958 for his first short film, Les Amours Jaunes (The Yellow Lovers). The beach is seen again on numerous occasions throughout the filming, the team had to be innovative to compensate for the poverty of his means. The same beach was used as setting in his later films. During the scene, in which the four vampire sisters were stormed, the peasants were none other than Marquis Polho (who also plays Marc) surrounded by several members of the crew, who had been employed for the occasions as actors, because Jean Rollin cound not hire extras.

Release[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Critical reaction to the film was very hostile. The Parisien wrote about Le Viol du Vampire as part of the happening and hoax normale; series of silent film and the film shot by amateurs idle and untalanted at the end of lunch on the grass of the parody style Red Rose, like the famous torticollis, and that the film lack any trace of humour. They also said that "each plays an air penetracted and we can only remain puzzled by the intentions of the director, Jean Rollin". "It is a moment of hope to find in this hurly-burly, few traces of the unusual and fantastic once enjoyed by surrealists in The Mysteries of New York, but we are forced to abandon even these small pleasures". Le Figaro was more aggressive and abusive. The critic who commented on the film seemed to have been carried out by a gang of drunken medical students, in fact, the host of this long film was so bad that Jean Rollin briefly considered stopping his film career, howerer, he eventually decided to continue, not only by passion for the cinema, but because Le Viol du Vampire still got a kind curiosity and proved successful enough and financially profitable.

Home media[edit]

Unlike other films of Jean Rollin, Le Viol du Vampire remained very long in France, found in video, the cause of this disgrace is found in nature feature film black & white like many French distributors, this feature gave it a clean look archaic to confuse the contemporary viewer accustomed to the colour and often quick to consider the film in black & white. it was not until 2000 that Norbert Moutier, a great friend of the director, finally dared to publish it under his label cassette, NG Mount International.

The VHS was released in the UK on May 1, 2000 by Salvation Films.[4]

The DVD was released in France in 2003 by the production house and publisher CRA. It was released under the Jean Rollin collection. It had already been the subject of an edition in Salvation: comparison of the two editions is not disadvantageous to the French publisher. The Format is substantially the same, the image is a 4:3 in a ratio of 1.66:1. A small loss of image editing Salvation is caused by the clipping on the right of the image, while the entire image appears in the edition LCJ.[5]

The film was released in the US on March 19, 2002 by Image Entertainment. It is presented in 1.66:1, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. The special features include: Thearticl Trailer, stills gallery and promotional material.[6]

Released in Europe on October 20, 2007 by Encore films in a restored version. It has a new aspect ratio of 1.78:1, but it is slightly over-matted because the original ratio is 1.66:1. The special features include: Audio Commentary by Jean Rollin, the story of La Nuit des Horloges, Trailer, interview with Jacqueline Sieger, interview with Alain-Yves Beaujour, interview with François Tusques, cencored scenes, trailers for Les Demoniaques, Le Frisson des Vampires, La Nuit des Traquees, and La Morte Vivante, and a 28 page booklet.[7]

Controversy[edit]

On 27 May 1968, Le Viol du Vampire was released to theatres in Paris, by Jean Lavie and his associates. Its release coincided with the events of May, and the fact that it drew a large audience because of this. Due to strikes and riots, it was a rare theatrical production present at the time. The projection of the film unleashed terrible scandal, from the taunts and jeers of damage to threats against Jean Rollin.[8]

Jean Rollin explained in an interview that,

Le Viol was a terrible scandal here in Paris. People were really mad when they saw it. In Pigalle, they threw things at the screen. The principal reason was that nobody could understand the story.[9]

Further reading[edit]

  • Virgins & Vampires: Jean Rollin. Contains essays by Jean Rollin, edited by Peter Blumenstock. Included CD soundtrack from Les Deux orphlines vampires. Limited edition of 300 copies, autographed by Jean Rollin. (Crippled Publishing, 1997, ISBN 3-9805820-0-0).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jeremy Richey (September 16, 2008)"The Cinema of Jean Rollin: Le Viol du Vampire (The Rape of the Vampire)". requiemforjeanrollin.blogspot.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ Jerome Peyrel"Le Viol du Vampire review". devildesd.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ Branislav L. Slantchev (December 3, 2005)"The Rape of the Vampire (Le Viol du Vampire, 1968)". gotterdammerung.org. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Le Viol du Vampire [VHS] [1967]". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  5. ^ Jerome Peyrel"Le Viol du Vampire French DVD". devildead.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Le Viol Du Vampire DVD review". dvdauthority.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ Eric Cotenas"Le Viol du Vampire DVD Comparison". dvdbeaver.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ Simon Strong (March 2004)"Sous la páve, le pláge!: Lesbian Vampires Vs the Situationist International". sensesofcinema.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ Andy Black"Clocks, Seagulls, Romeo and Juliet". kinoeye.org. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 

External links[edit]