4k-Ultra Review: Daughters of Darkness (1971)

November 12, 2020

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

After doing the eloping bag; mod young couple Stefan (John Karlen) and Valarie (Nordic beauty Danielle Ouimet) haul ass to a posh, yet deserted, seaside hotel… but more on them in a bit.

Also arriving at said hotel is none other than that long-living, glamorous Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory (yup that one, here portrayed by Delphine Seyrig) and her protege, Ilona (the stunningly gorgeous Andrea Rau)… and what do you know; bodies (of virgins no less) begin to be found around town drained of blood!

Getting back to ol’ Stefan, this mother fucker has some deep, dark secrets of his own such as a serious sadistic streak, and the fact that the mother he seeks approval from regarding his marriage is in fact his homosexual lover!

Making things a bit dicey for Liz is the fact that every old fart in town remembers her visiting decades before, and looking exactly the same as she does now… including a retired policeman (Georges Jamin) who is wise to her nocturnal activities.

Before long Stefan and the Countess’ wicked worlds collide in a haze of rough sex, bloodshed, and murder!

Let me tell you cats n’ creeps, Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness is one hell of a take on the tried and true vicious vampire terror tale! At its heart, this is a story of relationships, and just how twisted and controlling they can become.

To that end, witness the abusive and manipulative interactions between slap happy belt enthusiast Stefan; who not only hides his bi-sexuality, but lusts after Ilona directly after gettin’ hitched to Valarie who he dominates mentally and physically… and how this is mirrored in the master/servant relationship between Bathory (played to pitch-perfect perfection by the ultra-classy Seyrig) and Ilona. This is complex and non-traditional in and off itself, but when the two groups interact and blend then things get truly juicy indeed!

Bolstering the strength of this production; the main location of the hotel adds immeasurably to the atmosphere of this piece as it functions as both the opulent, “old dark house” of Gothic literature, as well as the lavish yet aging castle of your typical fang bang yarn, and it’s decadent walls seem just the thing to hide the tawdry goings-on that take place within.

It also doesn’t hurt that our main characters are absolutely gorgeous as well…

As for extras, this baby is packed to the ghoulish gills with beastly bonus features! First up we get three audio commentaries; two archival chats one with co-writer/director Harry Kümel (a great nuts and bolts convo on how the film came together), and another with Karlen moderated by journalist David Del Valle (a lively, often very funny chat which is the delightful standard for commentaries Del Valle is involved with), and a brand-new conversation with author Kat Ellinger (another rock solid scholarly analysis from the always engaging Ellinger).

Following that comes a discussion with Kümel and co-writer/co-producer Pierre Drouot concerning the film’s production with a focus on it’s locations, interviews with Ouimet and Rau, a trio of trailers, four TV spots, an alternate title sequence from the film’s U.S. release, and a poster and stills gallery.

Also included are the film’s original soundtrack by composer François de Roubaix on a seperate CD, a collectible booklet featuring new writing from author Michael Gingold, and a 3-D lenticular slipcover.

Sensuous, Gothic, and at times completely depraved; Daughters of Darkness is an irresistibly mod take on the exploits of the legendary sadistic beauty!

 

 

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