International Horror Film Review: The Nude Vampire (dir by Jean Rollin)

In the middle of the night, a woman (Christine François), wearing an orange nightgown walks down a dark, Paris street.

She is followed by three men, all of whom are wearing strange, bird-like masks.

The woman turns a corner and runs into Pierre (Olivier Rollin).  Pierre and the woman stare at each other, without saying a word.  Though it may be their first time to meet each other, both their attraction and their bond is instantaneous.

Both Pierre and the woman run down the street.  The men in the marks follow them.

Finally, in a deserted alley, the men corner the woman and Pierre.  Though Pierre escapes, the woman is shot by one of the men and promptly collapses.

The men pick up the woman’s body and carry her to a nearby, gated building.  A bearded doorman lets them through.  Several other people, all wearing tuxedos and fancy gowns, come to the gate and, after showing the doorman their invitation, are allowed to pass through.  Pierre tries to follow but is told that he cannot enter because he has not been invited.

And so begins Jean Rollin’s 1970 film, The Nude Vampire.  This was Rollin’s second film, following the controversial Le Viol du VampireThe Nude Vampire, while once again featuring all of Rollin’s pet obsessions, is still a far more assured piece of filmmaking than Rollin’s first film.  It’s interesting to watch The Nude Vampire directly after Le Viol du Vampire because you can can truly see Rollin developing as a director.  Once again, Rollin is telling an odd story about a frequently disrobed vampire and once again, all of the action leads to the beach.  However, the plot is far easier to follow in The Nude Vampire than in Le Viol du Vampire.  If the first film often seemed to be too indulgent for its own good, The Nude Vampire is just indulgent enough to work.  Of course, as with any Rollin film, your mileage may vary.  What seems rather coherent and almost tame to a Rollin fan may seem like the exact opposite to someone who has never seen a Rollin film before.

As for Pierre, he is determined to figure out what happened to the woman, even though his own father says that it is sometimes best to just leave well enough alone.  After punching out a partygoer and stealing his invitation, Pierre gets into the building and discovers that, despite having been shot in front of him, the woman in the orange nightgown is not dead.  In fact, she doesn’t even appear to be injured.  Instead, she drinks the blood of a party guest who has just committed suicide.  It turns out that the party is actually a cult and they worship the woman.

As if that’s not shocking enough, Pierre discovers that his own father is in charge of the cult!  His father explains that the woman is actually a vampire but that there might be a cure for her condition.  But, in order to cure her, she must be kept safe from the vampires who are trying to capture her….

And that’s not all!  But I won’t share any more of the plot.  I only have limited space here, after all.  The film plays out like a serial, with twists and turns and a lot of scenes involving people being chased from one location to another.  As I mentioned before, it all leads to the beach because this is a Rollin film and Rollin’s vampiric visions always ended with the beach.

As one should always expect from a Jean Rollin film, The Nude Vampire plays out at its own deliberate, dream-like pace.  As a director, Rollin was such a strong visualist that somehow even his film’s lapses in coherence seemed to make a strange sort of sense.  If every movie is a dream then who are we to complain when they employ dream logic?  As with any Rollin film, The Nude Vampire is not for everyone but fans of Rollin’s unique aesthetic will definitely find much to enjoy.

2 responses to “International Horror Film Review: The Nude Vampire (dir by Jean Rollin)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 10/14/19 — 10/20/19 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: International Horror Film: The Shiver of the Vampires (dir by Jean Rollin) | Through the Shattered Lens

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