JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Le Viol du Vampire (1968)

Le Viol du Vampire was the first film directed by Jean Rollin and is a short film with added footage to make it a complete feature. It’s two parts are The Rape of the Vampire and The Queen of the Vampires.  It was commissioned by French retailer Jean Lavie, owner of a network of small theatres who needed a short vampire film to play before the 1940 American film Dead Men Walk, which he had bought the rights to and was planning to rebroadcast.

Rollin had only worked on short films and documentaries, but he was excited to work on this film/. With a budget of 200,000 francs, he started making his fantasy film which would be influenced by American adventure serials. The filming, other than the beach scene, was all at an abandoned Paris house called Château de Gressy.

Debuting on May 27, 1968, the film was lucky — maybe — to play to big audiences who were in the midst of strikes and riots and needed entertainment. Lavie’s theaters had it and as they sat through his dream-like film, they weren’t happy.

Rollin told KinoEye, “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.” It would go unreleased on video until 2000.

Four sisters — including model Ursule Pauly and exotic dancer Nicole Romain — believe that they are vampires, making them all fear the daylight and the crucifix, as well as be very suggestable to the old man who orders them to kill and also likes to casually grope them and also be slaves to the idol in the forest who speaks directly to them.

Three people from the big city — Thomas, Brigitte and Marc — have come to cure them of this insanity, believing the villagers have driven them mad. The old man, sure that he will lose his power over them, orders them to kill the outsiders and then unleashes the village on everyone. Thomas begs one of the sisters to prove that she is a vampire and is stunned to learn that she really is, just in time for Marc to kill everyone as he has been driven mad by the death of Brigitte.

The second part of the story involves the queen of th vampires as she attempts to escape her curse and Thomas and Brigitte coming back to life after drinking the blood of the old man. Of course, this being a Rollin movie, a woman is whipped on the beach and everyone ends up dying rather than giving in to their thirst for blood.

Rollin improvised most of the story because he lost the script on the third day of production. Just imagine how wild this man gets when he has no plan if his planned films seem so odd. He’d continue his obsession with vampires, lesbians, old cemeteries and eroticism. This is the DNA that runs through so many of his films with several moments recaptured and reshot later.

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