LIPS OF BLOOD (1975) – The Dungeon Review!
It is really difficult to review a Jean Rollin film and not throw around words like dreamy, haunting and ethereal. These reviews are going to feel more than a touch redundant by the time I get the Rollin out of my system. Lips Of Blood is a vampire film and the most traditional of the four Rollin films I have watched in the last couple of weeks. Vampires bite necks, drink blood and die from stakes to the heart. Lips of Blood takes place in modern-day 1970s. The central character Frédéric is fully immersed in the modern world as we meet him at a party for the launch of a new perfume. The place Frédéric is eventually led to seemed like it belonged to another time; some place ancient and gothic; it felt like a dream. Yes. That word…dream, it is just so very apt.
A picture used in a perfume ad sparks a childhood memory in Frédéric. He recalls meeting a beautiful woman dressed in white as a child. The woman gives him shelter where he sleeps for a while. The woman wakes him some time later and sends him off to his worried mother. Frédéric locks the gate behind him promising to return. Frédéric questions his mother about the events who attempts to convince him that they never occurred. He believes the woman may dwell there still and seeks to find the location in the photograph. He arranges to meet the photographer only to discover she has been paid to stay quiet. Jennifer the woman in his vision begins appearing to him and he is soon embarking on a journey to find her. Along the way he awakens four female vampires and attracts the attention of some unsavoury sorts who want to prevent him from accomplishing his task.
This was my third viewing of Lips of Blood; clearly I am fond of the film. Technically speaking the film is not without flaws especially in the horror department. The vampire fangs are pretty corny and appear to be giving the actresses wearing them some difficulty. The gore is little more than some vivid red blood splashed about here and there. Yet I would not change a thing about it. While lacking gore the kill scenes are all stylish and appealing. I thought the bats in the coffins were a real nice touch too. Four vampire women who never utter a word; a blond and a brunette in sheer gowns and twin sisters. Working in pairs or all four ascending on a single victim; the wind blowing their hair and billowy gowns. Rollin knows how to make death pretty. Lips of Blood however is really Frédéric and Jennifer’s story.
The story features some lovely flourishes and has a romantic tone about it. Frédéric’s childhood meeting with Jennifer was a brief encounter that he had erased from his mind completely. Forgotten no doubt with some assistance from his mother. His mother began acting strangely after he told her about his memory. It is apparent that mother knows more than she is letting on. Jennifer could not appear to Frédéric until he remembered her on his own. When she does materialize she keeps her distance. She first appears to Frédéric while he is inside a movie theatre. The theatre featured a large poster for Jean Rollin’s The Nude Vampire; it was a really beautiful and surreal scene. The whole bloody thing is full of beautiful surreal scenes not to mention a breath-taking finale! It ranks as one of my favourite finales in a vampire film.
It would not be a Jean Rollin film if it wasn’t loaded with attractive women and copious amounts of nudity. Lips of Blood features lovely lasses aplenty including twin sisters Catherine and Marie-Pierre Castel. Frédéric is up to his armpits in women! Women are hanging off of him at the perfume launch as an over-bearing mother lurks nearby. Jennifer is quite unlike any of the women in his life. Jean-Loup Philippe is strong as Frédéric and it is easy to see how he could be bewitched by the fresh-faced and lovely Annie Belle who plays Jennifer.
Lips of Blood’s wonderfully haunting and deliciously sexy gothic vibe, drips with atmosphere and features a great jazzy score. Like every Rollin film I’ve reviewed thus far the locations and sets are amazing and add so much to the look and feel of his films. And the beach. Oh how Rollin loves his beach. Several of his films feature not only a finale on the beach but one particular stretch of beach that features a long fence. Lips of Blood is like a fairy tale for adults that features a vampire instead of a princess. My highest of recommendations; a perfect score.
Dungeon Rating: 5/5
Directed By: Jean Rollin
Starring: Jean-Loup Philippe, Annie Belle, Natalie Perrey, Martine Grimaud, Catherine Castel, Marie-Pierre Castel, Helene Maguin, Anita Berglund, Claudine Beccarie, Beatrice Harnois, Sylvia Bourdon