Mar 22, 2011
Film Club: Blood and Roses
As I watched my cruddy VHS copy of Blood and Roses, with its washed out colors and slight blur, I kept thinking what a marvel it would be to see the film all cleaned up, remastered, beautified, and restored to its rumored true run time of 87 minutes (versus the 74 minutes currently available). Why hasn't someone out there given the film the technological love it deserves? Isn't there some sort of Lesbian Vampire Historical Preservation Society in existence? If not, then I declare that there is now. I also nominate myself for President. I also second the nomination. The nomination is passed. Now please help yourself to juice and cookies.
Roger Vadim's 1960 take on Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla predates more famous interpretations of the story, such as Hammer's Karnstein Trilogy and The Blood-Spattered Bride; though it's not as salacious or bloody as some of those later sapphic vampire tales, it remains a bastion of eroticism and romance.
That's right...I said a bastion. As President of the Lesbian Vampire Historical Preservation Society, I take this all very seriously.
Poor Carmilla, a woman-child who knows little of life outside of her wealthy family's sprawling estate. Petulant about the impending marriage of her cousin Leopoldo De Karnstein, with whom she's in love, Carmilla gets in moods (you know how women be) and attempts to frighten Leopoldo's fiancee Georgia with tales of the Karnstein's good ol' days as vampires. To everyone's surprise, Georgia (Elsa Martinelli) finds the stories thrilling.
During an engagement celebration, a fireworks display in the estate's abbey ignites forgotten war munitions...and perhaps releases the spirit of the long-dead Millarca Karnstein, the family's last vampire. Carmilla (Annette Vadim) finds herself inexplicably drawn to the crypt, and before you can say "Millarca, thou art loosed!", Carmilla takes her ancestor's essence into her and it settles there like asbestosis. But sexier!
Soon, Carmilla's presence causes horses to cower in fear and pretty young maids to run in...well, fear. She needs blood to satisfy her hunger, of course, but what of Carmilla/Millarca's hunger for love? Her eyes remain fixed on the prize of Leopoldo (Mel Ferrer), but she's also undeniably drawn to Georgia- though whether as obstacle or object of desire is unknown. Perhaps both.
Georgia, too, finds herself drawn to her future cousin-in-law. Hiding from a rainstorm in a greenhouse, there's a sexually charged "Let me get that blood off your lip with a kiss" kiss that causes Georgia to sort of go "Oh...OH.", as those types of kisses often do.
When Carmilla finally seduces Georgia, Blood and Roses veers into surrealism as both women enter Georgia's dreamy nightmare or nightmarish dream or what have you. It's an unexpected sequence, but the hallucinogenic imagery is creepy and fantastic, all reds splashed against black and white.
It goes without saying, but again- this film really needs to be remastered.
So, in the end, has Carmilla really become Millarca, or is she simply cuckoo for cousin puffs and acts in bitey ways out of depression? Leopoldo feels one way about it and Georgia decidedly feels another. As President of the Lesbian Vampire Historical Preservation Society, however, I would have to say it's the former. Besides, that's the sexier answer, no?
Film Club Coolies!
A Great Disturbance in the Farce
Don't Make Me Ang Lee
I Will Devour Your Content
Maynard Morrisey's Horror Movie Diary
Things That Don't Suck
The Agitation of the Mind
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia
Acidemic - Film
The Montana Mancave Massacre
Musings & Meditations
Horror, Gore and More
Brutally Violent & Wonderful
Greetings from Movie City...