Daughters of Darkness is a good title, but its French nom de plume, Les Lèvres Rouges, is so much better. Look — if you’re going to have a 1970’s vampire movie, it should probably be a lesbian vampire movie while you’re at it. This one is Belgian. And director Harry Kumel claims that he based Delphine Seyrig’s character after Marlene Dietrich and Andrea Rau’s on Louise Brooks, so there’s that.
A newly married couple named Stefan and Valerie starts their honeymoon at a grand hotel on the Ostend seafront, intending to catch the cross-channel ferry to England. They’re there offseason, so the hotel is empty and their relationship already seems off to a poor start as Stefan doesn’t want to introduce his new wife to his mother.
When the sun goes down, Elizabeth Bathory arrives and with a name like that, well, you know what you’re getting into. Throw in the fact that the concierge says that she’s the same age as when he saw her as a little boy — I’ve actually had something similar happen in my real life and its scary as hell — and three murders of young women in Bruges last week and the plot thickens. Or congeals.
The more the Countess grows obsessed with the couple, the more sadism and violence we see, ending with Valerie taking over the role of the Countess and seeking new victims, the sole survivor of their games of sex and death.
This is high art masquerading as horror with some exploitation along for the ride. At the end of the 20th-century vampire film, even death and evil is exhausted, only finding solace in convincing the innocent of the ease by which they may fall into similar depravity.