Re-released more than a decade after its 1971 debut, Daughters of Darkness has lost none of the eerie, subterranean fascination it held for its original audiences. Indeed, the film may well have gained potency over the intervening years just because it is so much a creation of its time, not of ours. Seen today, the elegantly orchestrated scenes, remote aristocratic atmosphere, mutely staring camera and strong reliance upon stylishly concentrated performances rather than stock scare effects for the chills it evokes make the film look “old-fashioned” in a perfectly natural way that somehow enhances our anxious involvement with its themes.
Vampirism as a spiritual compulsion is frightening enough when undertaken seriously on the screen. But vampirism undertaken voluntarily for the sake of sexual gratification and the promise of eternal youth strikes very close to home indeed. It is, in fact, the real stuff of which the legend is made, the dark, human stuff lying not that far below the civilized veneer, and director Harry Kumel, renowned on the Continent for his pre-occupation with the dark side of human nature, has a very special way of making us realize that those strange figures up there on the screen aren’t just “other people”.
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