FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

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!

I mean look at this picture quality! It's a CRIME, I tells ya.

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
Soresport Movies
Things That Don't Suck
The Agitation of the Mind
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia
Acidemic - Film
nijomu
Film Shuffle
The Montana Mancave Massacre
Musings & Meditations
Horror, Gore and More
Brutally Violent & Wonderful
Greetings from Movie City...

24 comments:

John Bem said...

"Always opt for the sexier answer" is a good maxim with which to guide your life. Works for me anyway. Thanks, Stacie, for introducing me to this movie. I loved it.

Ray said...

Hey, I sent you the link to my review yesterday. It's not because I didn't like the movie, is it?

originalslugboy said...

Cuckoo for cousin puffs? *snork* I wish I had milk to squirt out my nose...

Stacie Ponder said...

Can you send the link again or post it here? I don't see it in my inbox or spam.

Andy said...

Miss Ponder,
"Blood & Roses" is actually available on Netflix instant, but not on DVD. Better than nothing, I suppose......

Stacie Ponder said...

Yeah, I try to pick things that are available on Netflix so more people can see them. As far as I've been able to discern, however, it's the same print/version as the VHS, although there are some variables that may render a Netflix viewing better.

Thomas Dukenfield said...

Sorry, I haven't had the chance the past couple of days to join in the film club fun. I've been watching that Rebbecca Black "Friday" video on a perpetual loop, so I have no time for lesbian vampires or life or anything. That might be a lie.

BLOOD AND ROSES is on my short list of most wanted DVD releases (a proper DVD). Please get the fuck going on this Mr. Movie World guy.

Will Errickson said...

I remember renting that crappy old VHS back in the day. When it turned up on Netflix Instant and I was pretty excited. Glad more folks are getting to watch this one.

dr.morbius said...

Yeah. The netflix version is the same as my VHS. One thing about the VHS: the 1998 MGM edition was recorded in LP, which is crap. I don't know if it was ever available in a better version. I don't think it was ever on laserdisc. Talk about a movie in need of an upgrade!

Anonymous said...

I can't speak to the quality of your VHS copy, or your VCR but the Netflix looked gorgeous to me... I suggest you compare/contrast. For science.

I don't have a film blog, so lemme just review this here: it was awesome! I usually don't like movies made before, oh, say 1975. But B&R was actually quite enjoyable. It was a tad slow in places, but highy entertaining overall.

Annette Vadim is my new crush, by the way. What a gal!

Thanks for introducing me to this movie (and Annette).

B.STANK said...

I sent my link as well. I figured you left it out because me fail English...http://brutallyviolentandwonderful.blogspot.com/2011/03/blood-and-roses-1960-family-reunions.html

Stacie Ponder said...

Why didn't I get any of these? Gmail is a jerk!

Fixed.

Nick Mullins said...

The images in my review are screencaps of the Netflix version. The quality is okay, but there is a bit of a blur and the colors are a bit on the yellow side.

And "cuckoo for cousin puffs" is my new favorite phrase.

Matheus said...

I´ve been busy lately so unfortunately I wasn´t able to write a review. Nevertheless, I´m very happy you enjoyed, and that it recieved mostly positive reviews around here. It is my favorite horror film after all, and it´s a good thing it´s getting more recognition lately. I still hope Criterion would release this one in a proper, restored version (of both the US and the extended French version) loaded with extras.
For those who didn´t like the film, I highly recommend watching the French cut. It´s more difficult to find, but is an overall better film and omits that hideous voice-over narration, giving the film a more ambigous tone.

B.STANK said...

Thanks for introducing me to this great movie and for including my review!

Ray said...

Kind of nice to see that I'm not the only one who was bored with this one. Not someone who needs to run with the pack, but I would have wondered if I'd missed something. I'm a little surprised to see so many raves for it. Is the Euro cut that much better?

Anonymous said...

Great review as usual Stacie! I have been a horror fan for a while(relative to age), but you have clued me into some great films! Scream was the first scary movie that I saw in theaters in the 5th grade, and I remember going during a double feature showing the "Beavis and Butthead movie" with my older sister. It was A-MAZING to say the least, and it instantly started my hunt for every slasher film of the 80s(a hunt I continue today). When are you allowed to review Scream 4 for us?! Can you post a random "Yaaaay" or "Boooooo"? I promise I won't tell!

Stacie Ponder said...

Hey Anon- I'm not sure when Scream 4 reviews are allowed. I think I'd give it a "yay". Basically, it's Scream 4, you know? :D

As for Blood & Roses...Yeah, I really liked it. It's not my favorite lesbian vampire movie, but it was artistic and lovely to look at (despite the picture quality). I loved the pacing. To each his or her own, I suppose!

Anonymous said...

Blood And Roses is a fantastic film, and both versions (the fansubbed widescreen French version from VHS that circulates and the fullscreen US version) are well worth seeing. Which is better? They're both great, but I've got a soft spot for the French version. Very Bava-esque. And it's not THAT hard to track down :-)

StuartOhQueue said...

"Raimifest" tommorow, woot woot!

Matt Bradshaw said...

If you have not already done so, please trademark "cuckoo for cousin puffs" immediately. :)

Mr. Xploit, Esquire said...

sounds awesome. kinda sounds like daughters of darkness. got sheck it out

greenmanTN said...

I've only seen the dubbed version (I have it on VHS) but I like Blood & Roses. A lot, actually. OK, it's SLOWWWW. But at least it's pretty and my favorite genre is style over substance. To me the best scene is Camilla/Mallarca stalking the servant girl, who's running her poor little peasant heart out but every time she looks back the vampire is closer and closer even though she maintains this slow, stately walk the whole time. (And thank god Vadim didn't use that "hey I've got a skateboard under my dress!" glide that looks so stupid in horror films! It's supposed to be uncanny or something but part of me is thinking, "ghosts like to slide around in their sock-feet too!" Not scary.) But just a slow walk which, dreamlike, is impossible to outrun? Scary. Vadim could have milked that scene a little longer.

And I want the mask Mel Ferrer wears to the costume ball! I could wear it to answer the door when missionaries knock on my door to get me to join their church. "No thanks, but have YOU ever considered joining the feathery bat-face club? No tithing and you can drink!" At least it get my house marked Do Not Visit Ever in the missionary handbook.

Stacie Ponder said...

The mask was so cool! I was trying to figure out what event I could attend so I could wear one...