BLOOD AND ROSES
(Et Mourir de Plaisir)
Hammer Films had spurred off a substantial revival of Gothic horror with their twin successes The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958) and it seems almost certain that Blood and Roses was intended to ride that wave of success. Hammer Films themselves later spun off a series of Carmilla films, beginning with The Vampire Lovers (1970), with which inevitable comparisons arise. (See below for the Hammer films). The one thing that the Hammer comparison makes one realise is how much Terence Fisher et al tied Hammers vision of the Gothic to a specific period and time when Blood and Roses updates the Le Fanu story in a modern setting one has to consciously jolt themselves to realise that the presence of planes, sports-cars and stereos is not anachronistic.
Opposing the rich, flamboyance of Hammers treatment, Roger Vadims vampirism is a lot more soft-focus and softcore in intent. There is more eroticism than horror to the film (and British censors cut out much of the softcore lesbianism anyway). In fact, there is very little vampirism going on there is a ludicrously tame scene where Annette Vadim pursues a servant girl that fades out just as Vadim closes in on her. Nor does the plot do much with the possession/vampirism themes. The atmosphere Roger Vadim creates is occasionally compulsive there are undeniably striking shots, like the lake lit up by fireworks, and, in particular, the surrealistic fevre dream that turns black-and-white with bodies swimming upside down outside French windows and an operation where the surgeons gloves are all tinted blood red. The beautiful photography, classy music, elaborate costumes and ornately layed-out gardens make for a sumptuously assembled film but alas little more than that.
Other adaptations of Carmilla include: extremely loose influence on the classic Vampyr (1932); the Italian-Spanish Terror in the Crypt (1963); Hammers trilogy consisting of The Vampire Lovers (1970) starring Ingrid Pitt as Carmilla, Lust for a Vampire (1971) with Yutte Stensgaard and Twins of Evil (1972) with twin sisters coming under the Karnstein influence; the Spanish The Blood-Spattered Bride (1972) starring Alexandra Bastedo; an episode of the tv series Nightmare Classics (1989) starring Meg Tilly; and the modernised Styria (2014) starring Julia Pietrucha.
Roger Vadims other genre films of note were:- the cult softcore space opera Barbarella (1968) with his then wife Jane Fonda, and the Metzengerstein episode of the Edgar Allan Poe anthology Tales of Mystery and Imagination/Spirits of the Dead (1968).