It takes half the running time of this Jean Rollin movie for the viewer to determine whether the sub-title option is turned on: the long set-up is wordless, and dialogue (in French) remains sparse even when it becomes necessary. Requiem for a Vampire (aka Vierges et Vampires) delivers the ingredients of exploitation (action, nudity, violence, vampires) in a casual, off-hand manner which must have played like an alienation effect in US grindhouses where this was sold as Crazed Virgins. Even crucial plot details and character names are hard to determine, but the film offers a succession of striking, odd images. After a car chase with the police, Two glum, pretty French girls dressed as clowns survive a wreck in which a man dies. They change into abbreviated outfits and drift into an unpopulated rural locale dominated by a vampire cult which is on the scout for virgins. Both are drawn to the cloaked, fanged patriarch but take different paths through his castle. Almost everything is provisional, and the heroines are so dissociated they might equally be villains before they get bitten. Like many of Rollin’s films, it’s hung up on its sulky, reticent, teasing leading ladies (Marie-Pierre Castel, Mirielle Dargent) – and much of the film’s peculiarity comes from their oddly offhand surrender to thuggish suitors, vampires with chains, an awakening bloodlust and rough sex. It’s not among its auteur’s best films, but – apart from the lack of beach scenes – it is among his most Rollinesque.
First published in Sight & Sound.