Daughters of Darkness

Daughters of Darkness ★★★★

Journey Into Darkness x 31 Frenzied Frolics:
Day #1

Shafts of light shimmer over a blisteringly tense eroticism. The falling of dusk escorts the indigo sunset. Flesh stained scarlet from the piercing teeth. We ride through the night on a carriage of prurient imaginings—kiss, caress, suck, fuck. Strung along by a madwoman cloaked in blood red raiment, you venture further into the lustful void of carnal desires until imagination morphs into reality.

Daughters of Darkness is an incandescent gala of sensual temptations and salacious sacrilege. Upon arriving at a hotel in Ostend, a countess and her consort set their sinister sights on the newly married couple of Valerie and Stefan in this beauteous barrage of steamy sex, violence and martial destruction; a vampiric take on the tale of Elizabeth Báthory, set against the chilly backdrop of a windy coastal down, frosted over not only from the cold, but by a string of brutal murders committed in the surrounding city as well. Erotic and surreal, the film stands a head above the rest of its many contemporaries of the day, blending European arthouse style with various horror tropes to deliciously delirious effect. Painterly compositions are dampened by bloodshed and libido, punctuated by an eerily haunting score that accompanies the images perfectly. Delphine Seyrig gives a chic, mesmerizing performance as Báthory that is just as titillating as it is terrifying, with the cast around her pulling their weight as well, making the script work to their strengths as actors.

High gothic euro-sploitation gold that contrasts its psychosexual brutality with its glamorous leads, outfits and set designs. I can not get over the atmosphere of this one, it is so heightened and oddly enough, rather comforting to me. Daughters of Darkness sets you up and knocks you down with its nocuous beauty, pointed eros, sudden bursts of ferocity and abstracted tone. Those red cut sequences remind me of Cries and Whispers, which would no doubt make a hell of an offbeat double feature with this movie, but a visually stunning one to say the least. Sweaty journalists, creepy setting, gaslighting vamps, manipulation games, nearly sunrise strokes of death, this one has got it all—an orgy of hot mayhem, complete with a killer final act that I always enjoy each time I revisit it.

Big thanks to Brandon for putting this on my radar awhile back. I have seen it a handful of times since and love it more and more with every viewing. A great way to start October!

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