Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 23rd, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Belgium, 1971 (Daughters of Darkness), Spain, 1972 (The Blood Spattered Bride)
Directors: Harry Kümel (Daughters of Darkness), Vicente Aranda (The Blood Spattered Bride)
Cast: John Karlen, Delphine Seyrig, Danielle Ouimet, Andrea Rau (Daughters of Darkness), Simón Andreu, Maribel Martín, Alexandra Bastedo, Rosa-Maria Rodrigues (The Blood Spattered Bride)
DVD released: October 31st, 2006
Approximate running time: 100 minutes (Daughters of Darkness), 101 minutes (The Blood Spattered Bride)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Daughters of Darkness), 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (The Blood Spattered Bride)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (Both Films)
DVD Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Daughters of Darkness: Newlyweds are delayed on their way home to England. They are forced to stay at a European resort during its off season. Shortly after their arrival they meet one of the few guests staying at the resort a countess named Elizabeth Bathory and her servant Ilona. The newlyweds quickly fall prey to the countesses’ web of seduction which puts a strain on their marriage when they let jealousy get the better of them.
Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness is one of the great examples of what a classic exploitation film should be with its blood soaked scenes of carnage and sexual escapades. The film far exceeds its limited budget with its sweeping camera shots that fully exploit every inch of the locations being used. The film is filled with atmosphere which extends to its hypnotic score and use of strong primary colors like red and blue.
Also one must not overlook the superb acting from the films four leads John Karlen (Dark Shadows) as the sadistic husband, Danielle Ouimet as the passive wife, Andrea Rau as the faithful servant who craves her own freedom form the countess and the most mesmerizing performance of all by actress Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad) as the countess Elizabeth Bathory. Daughters of Darkness, was one of the first Euro-Cult titles that I stumbled across many years ago and watching once again only enhances my appreciation for this extraordinary film.
The Blood Spattered Bride:Susan is young bride who has trouble adjusting to marriage and her husbands’ often violent ways. The more Susan starts to dig deeper into her husbands’ family’s past the more her mental state deteriorates. Susan soon believes that she is being visited by Mircalla Karstein one of her husbands’ descendants who two hundred years before murdered her husband. Now she wants Susan to follow suit and kill her husband.
The Blood Spattered Bride was co-written and directed Vicente Aranda (The Exquisite Cadaver, Sex Change). The screenplay for The Blood Spattered Bride was adapted from Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu’s novel tilted ‘Carmila’. This novel has been adapted several times for the silver screen. With the most famous adaptions being Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr, Blood and Roses, The Vampire Lovers and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. The cinematographer on The Blood Spattered Bride was Fernando Arribas, who’s other notable films as a cinematographer include Death Walks in High Heels, Death Walks at Midnight, The Legend of Blood Castle and Cannibal Apocalypse.
Even though the premise is ripe with possibilities. The end result is a slow moving melodrama. That saves its best stuff for its final act. Another drawback is this film’s inability to decide whether it is an all out exploitation film or an art house film with a message. In between moments of rape, bloodletting and other marital woes. This film tries to inject subtext about feminism. With varied results. The one area in which this film does excel is its visuals that give this meandering film some much needed atmosphere. Performance wise the cast are adequate at best. With the only performance leaving any lasting impression being Alexandra Bastedo (Stigma) in the role of Mircalla Karstein. Another performance of note is Simón Andreu (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion) in the role of the husband. Without a doubt the most disappointing aspect of this production. Is the performance of its leading lady Maribel Martín in the role of the bride.
Daughters of Darkness, is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. This is the third time in region 1 that Daughter s of Darkness has been release don DVD and this time around Blue Underground gets the job done right with vivid colors and razor sharp detail through out.
The Blood Splattered Bride is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. This release contains the same transfer and menus that were included on the Anchor Bay DVD. Colors look nicely saturated and print damage while noticeable never becomes distracting.
Both films Daughters of Darkness and The Blood Splattered Bride come with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Dialog is clear and easy to follow. There are no problems with distortion and hiss when it occurs is very minor.
Extras for Daughters of Darkness include the films original trailer, four radio spots and a poster & still gallery. Other extras include three interviews “Locations of Darkness” with Harry Kumel and producer/co-writer Pierre Drouot, “Playing the Victim” with Danielle Ouimet and “Daughter of Darkness” with Andrea Rau. All the interviews are excellent as they all remembered with vivid detail working on the film and with each other. Rounding out the extras is two audio commentaries the first one with Harry Kumel and it is moderated by David Gregory and the second audio commentary is with John Karlen and writer David DelValle. The first audio commentary is the more lively and informative of the two. The John Karlan audio commentary while not as lively still offers many fascinating stories about the film.
Extras for The Blood Splattered Bride is limited too the films original trailer.
Overall Blue Underground’s pairing of two similarly themed films makes for an interesting evening of fun for exploitation fans. This set is worth picking up if only for the stunning new transfer for Daughters of Darkness and it also doesn’t hurt that a few cool new extras have been added to the abundant amount of extras from previous release.