Requiem for a Vampire (1972) poster

Requiem for a Vampire (1972)


aka Caged Virgins; Virgins and Vampires
(Requiem Pour un Vampire)

France. 1972.


Director/Screenplay – Jean Rollin, Photography – Renan Polles, Music – Pierre Raph, Makeup – Carol Fidler. Production Company – Les Films A.B.C./$am $elsky.


Marie-Pierre Castel (Marie), Mireille Dargent (Michelle), Philippe Gaste (Frederic), Dominique (Erika), Louise Dhour (Louise)


Two girls, Marie and Michelle, who were working as party clowns, flee in an armed shootout after killing a man. Their male companion is shot during the chase. They set the car and his body on fire and continue across countryside on foot. They eventually come to a chateau and wander inside. As night come, they find that the chateau is inhabited by vampires. The vampire master Frederic, the last of his kind, decides that he wants to make the two of them into vampires.

A cult grew up around French director Jean Rollin (1939-2010) for his erotically fetishised, strikingly poetic and arty Vampire Films. The films that most of the Rollin cult rest on are his earliest ones beginning with The Rape of the Vampire (1968), followed by The Naked Vampire (1970), Le Frisson des Vampires (1971) and Requiem for a Vampire here, as well as the later Fascination (1979). Rollin made numerous films in either the horror or sex genres throughout the 1970s and 80s. (See below for Rollin’s other genre films).

Requiem for a Vampire was the fourth of Rollin’s vampire films and by this point he has started getting the idea of a plot. There is not really that much to it on this occasion but the film makes more sense in terms of narrative than his preceding films. What you notice in these initial scenes is the absolute sparseness of dialogue. During the chase sequence that opens the film, there are only three lines spoken in the first thirteen minutes. You keep wondering why the girls are dressed as clowns and fleeing in a shootout and how come their male companion ended up being wounded but Rollin never offers much of an explanation – there is a line much later in the show about them being party clowns who killed a client but we get no more details than that.

The film comes with a long introductory section that almost takes on the quality of a fairytale or dream. The two girls dressed in clown costumes flee across country. They come to a small pond where the water is emerald green and as they look in, it fills with drops of blood. They go to a cemetery and Mireille Dargent hides in a grave as two diggers come and fill the soil in, burying her until her friend comes and digs her out.

Marie-Pierre Castel and Mireille Dargent in Requiem for a Vampire (1972)
(front to back) Marie-Pierre Castel and Mireille Dargent in the chateau

They then arrive at a chateau. Rollin takes great delight in shooting the locale (the real-life Chateau de La Roche-Guyon) for pictorial value, showing the girls on the ramparts and the countryside stretching away below. The chateau is strangely deserted, although has lit candles and a bed made up, which the girls strip nude and curl up on together. As night comes, they wander through the chateau, coming to the chapel where the altar is surrounded by skeletons in hooded robes. An organ plays and we finally meet our first vampire, nearly 30 minutes in. The near dialoguelessness of these scenes adds to the dream-like quality.

Even when the vampires do emerge, there is still little dialogue. We get various scenes of the girls fleeing and being recaptured. At one point, Rollin stages an orgy in the chateau dungeon with several men having their way with women that are stripped nude while being kept chained up, with everything shot in a garish scarlet red light. In the bisty plot that ensues, the two girls are regarded as newcomers but have to secure their place as vampires by seducing two locals. There is the delightful and beautiful image of Mireille Dargent stripping off and leading one local on a tour around the chateau, before posing completely nude on the rampart wall as we see a barge going by on the river in the background.

Jean Rollin’s other genre films include The Rape of the Vampire (1968), The Naked Vampire (1970), Le Frisson des Vampires (1971), The Iron Rose (1973), Demoniacs/Curse of the Living Dead (1974), Lips of Blood (1975), Pesticide/The Grapes of Death (1978), Fascination (1979), The Night of the Hunted (1980), Zombies’ Lake (1981), The Living Dead Girl (1982), Two Orphan Vampires (1997), The Fiancee of Dracula (2002), Night of the Clocks (2007) and The Mask of Medusa (2010).

Trailer here

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