Blood and Roses (1960) -Roger Vadim

John Landis’ Monsters in the Movies takes a more sensual turn as I return to the coffee table tome available now from DK Canada.

Blood and Roses is a French film with a its own take on the vampire legend. Set on the estate of the Karnsteins, the tale follows a well to do family and their own past.

At the film’s centre is Carmilla (Annette Stroyberg) a lonely heiress, the last of her line on the Austrian side of the family, who has come to stay with her French relations, who are preparing for the impending nuptials of her distant cousin, Leopoldo (Mel Ferrer), to Georgia Monteverdi (Elsa Martinelli).

One evening they share some of their family history, mixed with village superstition and legends, about how their family was comprised of vampires until 1775. All of them, but for one, were thought to have perished when the villagers rose against them. One lone vampire, hidden away by her faithless lover.

Carmilla knows this story backwards and forwards, and her shared childhood with Leopoldo has caused her to fall in love with him. She is jealous over his relationship with Georgia, and one night, after a party, she discovers a long hidden tomb.

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Those around Carmilla suspect she has grown ill, that she is too in love with Leopoldo for her own good, but she seems a little too odd now.

Is it a personality break, has she suffered a breakdown over the impending marriage, or has she become the physical incarnation of the last Karnstein vampire?

The film argues both ways as it closes, but the final shot of the film puts paid to the answer of whether there are vampires in the family or not.

It’s a lush, beautiful looking film with some gorgeous locations, and a complete lack of fangs. There is some blood, some deaths, and a wonderfully bizarre and symbolic dream sequence that segues into the climax of the film.

Like all foreign films, it’s always interesting to see how stories are told differently, and how they translate to the screen, and Blood and Roses is no exception. Now that doesn’t mean it’s some stellar piece of cinematic film making, but it is an interesting movie that spins the vampire legend in a slightly newly direction, and hints at the sapphic overtones that would come to play for future nosferatu.

I rather liked this one, and with a runtime of only hour and fourteen minutes, it moves by pretty quickly.

The vampire section continues to unearth undead delights for me to view, and you can dig in too with your own copy of John Landis’ Monsters in the Movies available from DK Books. So turn out the light, and get your scare on.

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