Rollin Revisited: The Nude Vampire (1970)

by PiddeAndersson

The late, great Frenchman Jean Rollin was one of the most unique horror directors ever. Here is a review of his second feature film.

Jean Rollin's "La Vampire Nue" - Original poster by DruilletUnlike the debut film; “The Rape of the Vampire,” Jean Rollin’s second movie was shot in color. Lots of colors. This candy-colored movie looks like a psychedelic French comic book from the year this movie was made; 1970.

This time, Rollin also had a real screenplay. The story of “The Nude Vampire” (“La Vampire Nue”) is heavily influenced by the stuff Rollin loved when he grew up: comics, of course, but it’s even more inspired by old, French pulp fiction and old movie serials. We get mysterious cults, hooded killers, vampires, all thrown into a wild, weird and quite wonderful mix. And as usual, there’s not very much dialogue.

The movie opens in a laboratory, in which men wearing animal heads (deer, chicken etc.) drain blood from a naked woman sporting a red hood over her head. Then we cut to another woman, barefoot and wearing a colorful, see-through dress, running through the streets of Paris. We find out she’s being chased by the men with the animal heads. The woman runs into a young man -- Pierre -- who accompanies her until they’re surrounded by the followers. Suddenly one of the men pulls a gun and shoots the woman! Pierre manages to escape, but follows the animal head wearing men and sees them entering a gate. Something is going on in there … Pierre tries to enter, but a guard asks for his invitation, which he hasn’t.

Later, Pierre makes another attempt to get inside the mysterious building. He knocks down a man on his way there, steals his invitation -- and manages to get in along with some other men, all wearing tuxedos. He’s led to a room, where a man shows a photo of a woman. The woman enters the room, takes out a revolver -- and shoots herself! What the hell is going on?

The gathered men and women put on colorful hoods while the dead woman is placed on a stage. The girl who was shot in the streets enters the stage and drinks blood from the dead woman’s wound. A new photo is shown -- this time a portrait of Pierre. A man hands a revolver to our hero, but instead of shooting himself, he kills a couple of the people in the room and runs away. He runs out of bullets, but is saved by a girl wearing some kind of Barbarella outfit, who uses a dagger to kill one of the members of the cult. A man wearing a silver cloak also helps out and Pierre manages to escape.

Jean Rollin's "The Nude Vampire" - Artwork for the Swedish DVDPierre calls Robert, a buddy, for help, Robert is an artist who’s painting a naked black girl with long, golden fingernails. It’s in the middle of the night and the two friends go to Pierre’s dad’s office; apparently he’s something to do with this strange cult. There’s lots of people working in the office, but suddenly a bell rings, they put on red hoods, and that girl who was shot in the street (“Maybe she’s a robot?” Robert suggests) enters. Pierre and Robert are caught.

We find out that the mysterious woman is suffering from a rare disease; well, she’s a vampire, or something like that. The suicide cult worships her like a goddess. Pierre’s dad and a group of scientists believe the vampire's blood is the key to eternal life. Then they all go to a big chateau in the countryside and things go, well, stranger …

As you can tell, this isn’t a vampire movie the “Twilight” crowd will enjoy. Or the average horror movie fan. “The Nude Vampire” goes beyond your standard horror fodder. It also manages to go beyond most other B-movies. What we have here is a unique combination of sexploitation and art-house. Is it trash? No, definitely not. Is it art? I don’t know. Okay, sure, all movies are probably “art” in some way.

“The Rape of the Vampire” had almost no story at all. “The Nude Vampire” has an unusually detailed plot for being a Jean Rollin movie. Vampires, erotica, espionage; there’s a lot going on here. It’s also funnier -- on purpose -- the the other Rollin movies. Jean Rollin still hasn’t found his style in “The Nude Vampire,” but he’s almost there, and this is a very good looking, atmospheric movie -- and great fun!


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The Lost Interview: Jean Rollin
Back in 2008, I made a lengthy interview with Jean Rollin. However, it was never published, and then the document with the interview disappeared. Recently, I found a few bits and pieces of it and reconstructed a few parts of the interview. Here it is.

The Nude Vampire [Blu-ray]

A surreal blend of horror, espionage, and erotica, THE NUDE VAMPIRE follows the son of a wealthy businessman as he is lured into a secret cult that is conducting experiments ...

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The Nude Vampire

Horror motifs are mixed with eroticism and surrealism in The Nude Vampire, the second feature from the innovative French auteur Jean Rollin. The Nude Vampire is centred on a ...

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The Nude Vampire

(1969) Olivier Martin, Maurice Lemaitre, Caroline Cartier, Ly Lestrong. A beautiful "vampire" woman becomes involved with a playboy whose father is experimenting with ...

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The Nude Vampire (Remastered)

A surreal blend of horror, espionage, and erotica, THE NUDE VAMPIRE follows the son of a wealthy businessman as he is lured into a secret cult that is conducting experiments ...

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Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies, 1956-1984

European cinema has always excelled when it comes to "bad" movies. When continental moviemakers combined horror with sex, they unleashed a tidal wave of celluloid strangeness th...

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Updated: 01/23/2012, PiddeAndersson
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