As a long time collector, it is not a foreign concept to acquire a film, stick it on one of my many shelves, and forget about it for ages. In a day and age when new restorations of said films are given to fans periodically, there is no longer a reason to ignore them. As I received yet another copy of Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness, there was no better time to finally dive into it.
As a newly married couple stop at a hotel on the way to their final destination, they meet a stunningly beautiful Countess and her ‘companion’ who throw a wrench into their plans.
Daughters of Darkness is a film that I’ve known of for years, and as I’ve already mentioned, have actually owned a copy of for just as long. Still, I was never all that tempted to actually give the film a try.
I am not the biggest fan when it comes to gothic-style horror films and while I love vampire flicks, a certain mood has to strike me before I can sit and enjoy an [older] entry in the sub-genre.
Now, after finally giving this 1971 title that apparently “shocked both arthouse audiences and grindhouse crowds worldwide” upon its initial release, I am sad to report that my anticipation, or lack thereof, was actually quite warranted.
Daughters of Darkness is a wonderfully crafted film. The cast is small with only a handful of performers making up the entirety, but each one portrays their characters flawlessly. Delphine Seyrig (The Day of the Jackal) does a remarkable job as the mysterious and charming Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Her portrayal as the infamous Countess is much more tame than others I am familiar with, but that doesn’t take away from her performance in the slightest.
Similarly, I can’t think of anything negative to say about John Karlen (“Dark Shadows”) and Danielle Ouimet (The Possession of Virginia) as Stefan and Valerie, the newlywed couple, Paul Esser (Pippi Longstocking), the hotel concierge, or Georges Jamin (Sideral Cruises) as the increasingly nosy retired police officer. Acting from all parties is done rather superbly.
Where my issues lie is in the fact that Daughters of Darkness isn’t really a horror film. At least not in the traditional sense. The tale about an ancient vampire Countess is pushed to the background as one of seduction is much more overpowering. We all know vampire films to be full of sultry scenes of sexy men and women giving in to their most carnal desires, but I must admit that I like my vampires more terrifying.
Sadly, there is none of that here; The film’s full 100 minutes is more concerned with gaining the young couple’s trust instead of their blood.
Daughters of Darkness at Home
While fans and fellow collectors have had access to a great release of this film already, that didn’t stop the fine folks at Blue Underground from outdoing themselves yet again.
Daughters of Darkness is available now on 4K Ultra HD. This limited edition release contains the 4K UHD disc, as well as a Blu-ray of the film, and a full CD soundtrack by Francois de Roubaix.
The film is presented in a Widescreen 1.66:1 format and 2160 Ultra HD presentation. This beautiful new home release also features Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix, which is of course best experienced with a soundbar or similar audio setup.
Additionally, we are treated to countless bonus features including three audio commentary tracks, one of which is brand new for this release specifically, interviews with cast and crew, theatrical trailers, radio spots, alternate main title credits, and more. There is also reversible artwork and of course, every collector’s favorite, a slip cover.
For fans of this early 70s production, there is no better version to own than this.
While I don’t see my self revisiting this one anytime soon, I still recommend giving it at least one watch. It contains great performances, great overall production quality, and looks and sounds better than ever thanks to Blue Underground.
Give this one a watch and let me know if you agree with my final rating of 2.5 accidental slit wrists out of 5!