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Daughters of Darkness (Blu-ray Review)

At Why So Blu? we believe that every film, no matter the genre or status, should be given equal coverage, especially if it’s given a Blu-ray release.  Cult horror is no exception.  In our first, but hopefully not last cult horror film review, we are proud to present the 1971 horror cult classic Daughters of Darkness. This Blu-ray release was handled by the experts in cult horror films over at Blue Underground.  We hope that you enjoy our review for Daughters of Darkness on Blu-ray. 

Film 

A recently married couple are on their way to England by train but decide to make a stop in Belgium.  Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) check into The Ostend hotel in Belgium.  They pass the time at the hotel talking to one another in addition to the lonely (and only) concierge at the hotel about trivial matters.  Trivial until the beautiful Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) and her equally beautiful “companion” (Andrea Rau) show up to “liven” things up.

Daughters of Darkness doesn’t follow the vampire mythos to the letter, but does borrow from it.  The Countess is obviously “Dracula” and her companion can be considered a much hotter looking version of Renfield, but it’s their “superpowers” that are limited.  These are all very beautiful women, so I wasn’t expecting death defying or crazy optical illusions that would define their characters.  They more than make up for it with their insane powers of seduction and manipulation along with youthful age.  There is no mention of garlic, silver or stakes through the heart.  Daylight is the weapon of choice in this film.

The film never meanders, but as usual with these European films, the final act seems very rushed and over melodramatic.  The first three quarters of the film are spot on, which is quite disappointing that the ending runs out of steam.  That’s not to say that Daughters of Darkness isn’t an awesome film.  It is.  On a final note, to say that Daughters of Darkness is anywhere near hardcore or, for that matter, softcore in content would be to make a false statement or accusation.  Sure, when it was released forty years ago it caused quite a stir due to it’s lesbian overtones and overt sexuality.

Watching the film for the first time on Blu-ray I don’t really get the controversy.  A sign of the times, I guess.  Daughters of Darkness is pretty tame, but I will say that it is very tastefully handled and classy all around.  The women look great, the men are players, and it’s set in epic Europe.  What could be better?

Video 

Daughters of Darkness is presented in 1080p widescreen 1.66:1 aspect ratio.  I was initially very worried with what I saw in the beginning during the opening credits.  I don’t think Daughters of Darkness went in for a full restoration, because during the “red” opening credits I noticed scratches and some smears on the lower right hand of the screen.  The first footage we see is in the darkness and it looked really muddy and murky.  That quickly changed as soon as the “lights” came on.  To say that I gasped would be quite the understatement.

The scenes during daylight are breathtaking!  There’s a hint of natural grain throughout those scenes, and I did not spot any noise or heavy handed use of DNR.  Flesh tones looked natural and “unnatural,” if you get my meaning.  Colors are vibrant and do take center stage when they’re onscreen.  Towards the final act you will notice that the image gets softer, but I see it as an intentional technique by the filmmakers.  It gives those scenes a very misty-ethereal quality to them.  Don’t let the weak scenes in the dark fool you, most of the film takes place in daytime or brightly lit interiors anyway.

Audio

Daughters of Darkness is presented in a DTS HD-MA 1.0 lossless track.  Yes, I said mono, and yes it gets a three star.  Considering the film is forty years old I don’t really see a benefit to remastering it in 5.1 or 7.1 sound.  That, or they would have to spend an outrageous amount of money to do it right.  It’s very cost prohibitive.  The soundtrack is fine.  All of the sound effects and dialogue come through quite clear, and considering they’re all coming from the center channel only, never try to outdo one another.  There is no distortion at all.

Special Features 

Daughters of Darkness does have an ample helping of special features, but they were mostly ported over from the previous 2006 DVD release, so they are all presented in SD.  There are a couple of commentary tacks with director Harry Kumel and John Karlen (separate tracks), and several interviews with the stars Danielle Ouimet and Andrea Rau.  Trailers and radio spots are also included and for the ultra hardcore fan the full length presentation of The Blood Splattered Bride is included for your viewing pleasure.  Not a bad selection of extras if I do say so myself.

  • Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Writer/Director Harry Kumel
  • Audio Commentary #2 with Star John Karlen and Journalist David Del Valle
  • Locations of Darkness – Interviews with Co-Writer/Director Harry Kumel and Co-Writer/Co-Producer Pierre Drouot
  • Playing the Victim – Interview with Star Danielle Ouimet
  • Daughter of Darkness – Interview with Star Andrea Rau
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Radio Spots
  • The Blood Splattered Bride – (1972, 101 Mins.)

Final Thoughts 

Daughters of Darkness was once controversial, but quite tame by today’s standards, I’d suggest if you want to experience a different and more stylistic approach to the traditional (and non-traditional) vampire tale to give it a chance.  It is vampire erotica at its best.  It makes me want to plan my next vacation to Belgium or Bruges.  Daughters of Darkness is one of the more evocative vampire films I’ve seen since Werner Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu. I enjoyed my stay at The Ostend for sure.

Order Daughters of Darkness on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

1 Response to “Daughters of Darkness (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Wow! Awesome! Everything except the mono track that is.