The Nude Vampire, released in 1970, is an immediate improvement following Jean Rollin’s first feature, The Rape of the Vampire. The film features many of the surreal and arthouse qualities but uses them to the film’s advantage, rather than being a detriment to the film’s entertainment. The Nude Vampire tells the story of a young man Pierre, played by Oliver Rollin, as he discovers a secret plot involving his father and a vampire. The audience is thrust into the middle of the plot, and the opening scene of Pierre attempting to save the girl is quite surreal and feels like you have stepped into a dream. In this way, it is quite similar to The Rape of the Vampire, and The Nude Vampire uses many similar elements that we saw in the previous film: long meandering shots, a loose, dreamlike plot, and a focus on eroticism, death, and cults.
The film’s plot reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut, directed by Stanely Kubrick and released in 1999. In both films, there is a cult who wear mask and hoods, and there is a link between the cult and sexuality. The sexual elements of the film aren’t nearly as explicit as Eyes Wide Shut, something I find interesting since Rollin is known for his sexually explicit movies. The sexuality in the movie is seen more in the background and through the character of Georges Radamante, Pierre’s father, who uses the women in his life for his selfish purposes, sexual or otherwise. Something that I found interesting in both of Rollin’s films that I have watched so far was the female presence in his films. The main character of this film is Pierre, but the object of his desire seems more important than his journey. Caroline Cartier plays the Vampire, and I don’t believe she has any lines in the movie at all, but yet her presence and character are much more important than the dialogue she is given and the number of scenes she is in. She is seen by Georges, Pierre’s father, as a monster and a vampire, who he is attempting to exploit for nefarious purposes, but we see that he is the true monster by kidnapping her and forcing her to do things against her will.
The Nude Vampire is a fascinating film, and we can see by his second film the kind of themes and stories that Rollin is interested in, mainly fantastic and erotic stories with gorgeous women. The Rape of the Vampire, while somewhat interesting, made me question my journey through Rollin’s filmography, but The Nude Vampire reassured me that it will probably be a worthwhile and unique experience.