A small van pulls up outside a recently vacated Château. The occupants carry barrels of industrial waste down into the catacombs beneath to dump. While down there, two of the men decide to rob the coffins of the houses former occupants, the recently deceased Catherine Valmont and her mother. While they pry jewels from the bodies a barrel of the waste tips over and the contents run towards the body of Catherine, releasing gas as it does so. The waste it seems has the unexpected effect of resurrecting the dead, now Catherine is back and she is terribly hungry!
Jean Rollin’s (Les Demoniaques, Requiem pour un Vampire), 1982 cult classic La Morte Vivante (The Living Dead Girl) finds him firmly in territory he loves, with yet another tale of lesbian vampires. This film how ever lacks some of the visual style and inventive locations of some of his other work. How ever the story itself is slightly tighter and more controlled, so while it loses in some area’s it gains in others.
Perhaps Rollins most visceral film, as it’s more definable as straight horror than his other more expressionistic, surreal, dark erotica. With simple yet fairly effective gory effects from Benoît Lestang who would go on to work on films such as Christophe Gans Brotherhood of the Wolf and Lars von Trier's Manderlay. The gore effect here are actually quite nasty as Catherine’s vampiric tendencies are surprisingly for a Rollin film anything but erotic (Unless you’re the kind of person that likes fried penis in garlic butter). No discrete puncture wounds in the neck here, Catherine’s blood lust has her desperately chewing and ripping you to bits to get at your blood.
The tale is a simple one taking place for the most part in and around the Châteaux which was Catherine’s former home. On awakening from the dead disorientated Catherine instantly falls upon the men dumping the waste chewing out there blood. She then wanders upstairs driven partly by memories of her former life and partly in need of a snack. Finding a young female estate agent and her lover sexually compromised Catherine one again indulges her new found taste for blood. It’s not long before Barbara, Catherine’s childhood friend, turns up and after getting over the mild surprise of finding freshly chomped bodies in the house she quickly renews their friendship. Barbara quickly decides to help Catherine live on by luring victims for her to poke to death with her very long fingernails and them munch on. Meanwhile a couple of meddling Americans (mainly the wife) decide in true 80’s cheesy style to investigate the strange girl they catch a glimpse of.
The Château itself is an imposing building, although Rollin refers to it as a castle, its more akin to what we in England would call a stately home or large manor house. The interior decor which is forms the majority of the films backdrop, looks like the kind of place where many and 80’s pornographic magazine shoot would have taken place. The acting is pretty reasonable for a Rollin outing with the lovely Francoise Blanchard adding and outstanding performance in the films final scenes. The one jarring downside in the way the special effects are edited in, with a drastic cut to special effect each time, but the effects themselves while very low tech practical make-up stuff are really fun.
While I did miss some of Rollins more stylish touches from some of his other work, the film itself is one of, if not his most enjoyable and you have to love those fingernails of death.
Buy It: hkflix.com