Mar 21, 2011

Posted in 1950s & 1960s, European Films, Films Categories, Flicks by Decades, France, Ray, Reviewers

Blood and Roses (1960)

Blood and Roses (1960)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Blood and Roses.  It’s part of a sub-genre I’m not familiar with (lesbian vampires), and from a director(Roger Vadim) whose films I’ve never seen before, either.  After watching it, I can safely say that if Blood and Roses is indicative of either’s body of work, I’m not eager to try either again anytime soon.

Read this plot summary from its IMDB page: “Young Carmilla is jealous of her friend’s engagement, and her obsession leads her to the tomb of a female vampire. The vampire possesses her and leads her to kill and terrorise (sic) the inhabitants of the estate. But is it all in her mind, or is she really under the control of an ancient vampire ancestor?”  Hey, that sounds like it might be a good movie.  Sadly, it’s not this one.  Yes, the first one-and-a-half sentences are correct: Carmilla does get possessed by a female vampire, and she is jealous of her friend’s engagement, but she sure as hell doesn’t ‘terrorize’ anyone.  There’s a couple of scenes in which the estate’s workers debate whether or not there’s a vampire on the loose, but it’s kind of pointless since no one’s been killed yet in the movie.  Bed bugs scare people more than this vampire.  Also, Leopoldo, the man getting married isn’t her friend; he’s Carmilla’s cousin, which makes her unrequited crush on him just a tad creepy.

It feels dishonest to even call this a horror movie, since at no time does it even attempt to frighten you.  There’s nothing scary about it, and it features the least effective vampire this side of The Count from Sesame Street.  A whopping 44 minutes passes before she actually claims a victim (and the only one, too).  Yes, I was keeping track.  And the movie is only 73 minutes long.  I’m not demanding blood and guts here, but there is absolutely nothing going on in this movie before that scene, or even after it, really.  Instead, we get plenty of arty touches, like the admittedly fine cinematography by Claude Renoir, which very nicely captures the Italian countryside, and a bizarre dream sequence near the end which does little except to pad the running time.  Unfortunately, none of this compensates for the fact that the movie just lags for so long.

And so little of it makes sense, too.  Doesn’t anyone find it odd that Carmilla wears the same gown every day (it serves as lazy shorthand for ‘she’s possessed by a vampire’)?  Why does the movie try to suggest towards the end that Carmilla’s not actually possessed, but merely in a jealous rage when the frequent narration from the vampire contradicts this?  And why does the vampire want to possess Leopoldo’s fiancee Georgia, when it’s already possessed Carmilla?  I just don’t care about this movie anywhere near enough to try to figure out those answers.

This review is part of the Final Girl Film Club.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)
Blood and Roses (1960), 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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