Today we travel to Belgium. Belgium didn’t have much of a film industry until the mid-1960’s when the government started subsidizing film production. Although the animation side of things was always quite prosperous, the ’60s saw the likes of The Smurfs, Asterix and Tintin make it to the big screen. Then things really took off in the 1980’s and today Belgium has a pretty healthy industry. Back in the 1970’s though everyone in Europe was making co-productions and Belgium co-produced a few. One of the better horror films they made was 1971’s Daughters of Darkness.
Directed by Belgian filmmaker Harry Kümel the film follows a married couple who are on their honeymoon at an empty beachfront hotel. Then a countess arrives with her secretary. The countess, Elizabeth Báthory (Delphine Seyrig), has designs on the young couple.
Things get erotic and violent from there.
The movie is part of a trend of lesbian vampire movies that started in the 1970’s. Hammer Films started it with The Vampire Lovers in 1970 but soon it seemed like everyone across Europe was pumping out their own lesbian vampire horror movie. Daughters of Darkness is a more classy art version compared to some of sleazier films that came out at the same time. Despite being a Belgian / French / German production, the movie was shot with all the actors, regardless of their nationality, speaking in English. No post dubbed English here like so many other ’70s European films.
The movie has an eerie quality to it. Director Harry Kümel seems to be trying to channel his star Delphine Seyrig’s earlier art film classic Last Year at Marienbad. The hotel is creepy and empty. As far as the lesbian vampire genre goes, this film is a classier and creepier than most.