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Daughters of Darkness (DVD)

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Daughters of Darkness DVD (click for larger image)Starring Delphine Seyrig, Danielle Ouimet, John Karlen and Andrea Rau

Directed by Harry Kümel

Distributed by Blue Underground


What can top your standard vampire story? A lesbian vampire story! And what could top that? A lesbian vampire story double feature! Yes, oh yes!!! Blue Underground has brought two classic “adult” psycho-sexual thrillers from the early 70’s together in one beautiful set. However, one must ask the question: Do these sexy movies withstand the test of time?

This two-disc special edition release of Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness is more than it appears. At the ass end of the film’s description, on the back of the DVD case, you will see another title mentioned … The Blood Spattered Bride. This came as quite a surprise since nowhere on the front cover or even the cardboard slipcase is it mentioned that the buyer is receiving an extra film. No objections here!

Let’s start things out with the film this reviewer watched with his lovely cohort, Trish the Dish. The thought of lesbo-fueled vampire hanky panky is hot even on a boring Sunday morning. We were both set to watch some of that great old 1970’s horror magic that could fall along the lines of The Wicker Man, but it was not to be.

Daughters of Darkness DVD (click for larger image)Daughters of Darkness is the tale of two newlyweds who are off enjoying the bliss associated with being married. There is early tension in their relationship as Stephan (John Karlen) keeps skirting the reservations of informing his “mother” about his hasty union with Valerie (Danielle Ouimet). Stephan also seems to have a violent streak and occasionally mistreats Val in the physical sense. Sometimes women require a little roughing up. You understand, right?

The young lovers soon arrive at a lovely seaside town and stay at a very posh hotel. Things are beautiful, especially the newly arrived Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig). She oozes sexiness and has caught the eyes of both Valerie and Stephan. What could this seemingly ageless Countess want with these two?

Daughters of Darkness is essentially the retelling of Elizabeth Bathory’s legend. It’s just too bad that the plot slowly turns and bores the audience until the ever graceful Delphine Seyrig appears on screen. One could basically shove the story aside and watch her scenes because of her strong and pleasing presence. Sure, she doesn’t get naked or actually do much in the way of carpet munching, but that isn’t significant. What is prominent, on the other hand, is that the movie isn’t all that sexy or shocking. Back then it may have been something for the press to eat up, but today it’s just another snail paced horror film with thick, paint-like blood.

Most of the characters never become interesting enough to invest emotion in. Stephan is unlikeable from the start and Valerie is more of a beautiful statue than anything else. She never really gets to shine until the film nears its end and the audience witnesses a very mind-boggling car accident that may produce more laughs than gasps.

Daughters of Darkness DVD (click for larger image)What about the lesbianism? It’s there … sort of. There is a little sexual tension between Countess Bathory and her lover Ilona (Andrea Rau), but there is never enough of a payoff to solidify what their relationship is. Honestly, there is more sex between men and women in this picture than anything else. When one watches a lesbian vampire film, one expects to see some labia licking or something, anything apart from a cheap peck on the lips and a quick roll around in the bed. Talk about blue-balling.

The special features did help things become more interesting as the audience learns that this movie did accomplish a few “cinema firsts” via the commentary. Some of these things include a man having an orgasm on screen and opening a film with a sex scene. Shocking! Director Harry Kümel’s commentary track is the most informative out of the two to be sure, but he needs a bit of coaxing from another person during the recording session. If only the movie was a little more gripping, then it would be easier to sit through the commentaries. At least he was a little more lively during the Locations of Darkness featurette where he and co-writer Pierre Drouot visit the film locales as they exist in the present day. It’s no Horror’s Hallowed Grounds though.

The second commentary track features John Karlen and journalist David Del Valle. This reviewer never thought he would learn more about Dark Shadows watching this picture than an actual Dark Shadows DVD. Mr. Karlen reminisces about his days on that classic vampire soap opera and remarks on how it would be delightful to be youthful again. Woo! All that was missing was a bit of hemorrhoid and backache discussion!

The interviews with Danielle Ouimet and Andrea Rau are very short but do make the most of the time. Each of them recount the shooting conditions, sexual positions and the shock value of the film. Both of these ladies still retain a bit of their former beauty, but it would be advised to watch the feature, get yer jollies and then watch the extras. Old and wrinkled lesbianism is not a pretty thing in the mind’s eye. I can no longer sleep at night.

Daughters of Darkness is a very watchable film, but the viewer has to go into it with the mindset that this is not a graphic sexual tale or even a violent horror film. Its charm is in the beauty of the cast and locations. While it may not get you or your partner into the mood to have sex, it does make intercourse a better alternative than sitting through the film. This DVD shall now accompany me on every date. We’ve given hope to the the nerd populace! Bump nasties thanks to the Daughters of Darkness.

Oh snap, almost forgot that there was another movie in this set. How can the The Blood Spattered Bride section of the review be done without boring everyone to death? Let’s make it quick …

Daughters of Darkness DVD (click for larger image)Vicente Aranda’s The Blood Spattered Bride rings the bells of lesbian vampires again, but this time it’s sexier. The comparisons between this film and Daughters of Darkness are as plentiful as used condoms on a beach after Spring Break. Once again we see an abusive man wed a timid and mysterious woman. She is soon haunted by a ghost from the past played by Alexandra Bastedo and her amazing body. It soon comes to pass that the ghost is in fact a vampire hot for some living puddin’. Breasts are everywhere: in the sand, in the crypts and in the woods.

Just like Daughters of Darkness, The Blood Spattered Bride leaves much to be desired as far as characters are concerned. How can you side with a physically and mentally abusive husband? How does one start to care about a bitchy young wife who speaks her lines like she expects no response? How the hell do you not have girl-on-girl action AGAIN in a vampire lesbian movie?! What in the name of Bluebeard’s shanty crab shack is going on?!

And the problems don’t end there, friends. Aside from the pretty bodies there’s not much else going for this movie. Men don’t fight back against knife-wielding women? The thought of your wife being a labia licker is more disgusting than her being a vampire? Scuba-diving women get buried under three feet of sand and no one questions it? Isn’t it time to just destroy the knife your wife keeps finding and attacks you with? All these questions and more are the audience’s for the asking when you bite into The Blood Spattered Bride. Come for the boobs, but stay for the WTF’s!

Special Features
Audio commentary #1 with co-writer/director Harry Kumel
Audio commentary #2 with star John Karlen and journalist David Del Valle
Locations of Darkness – Interviews with co-writer/director Harry Kumel and co-writer/co-producer Pierre Drouot
Playing the Victim – Interview with star Danielle Ouimet
Daughter of Darkness – Interview with star Andrea Rau
Theatrical trailer
Radio spots
Poster and still gallery
Disc 2: The Blood Spattered Bride
U.S. combo theatrical trailer

3 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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