Daughters of Darkness (Le Rouge Aux Lèvres) (1971)

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Released 17-Jun-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-John Karlen (Star) And David Del Valle (Journalist)
Radio Spots-4
Gallery-Poster And Stills
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Phantom Of The Opera, Candyman
Trailer-Candyman-Farewell To The Flesh, Thirst
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 99:51
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Harry Kümel
Showking Films
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring John Karlen
Delphine Seyrig
Danielle Ouimet
Andrea Rau
Paul Esser
Georges Jamin
Joris Collet
Fons Rademakers
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music François de Roubaix

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory lived a decadent life of extreme and indulgent debauchery during the fifteen hundreds. She believed that bathing in and sometimes drinking human blood would preserve her beauty, and indeed her life. Historically, it is widely believed that the Countess was responsible for the torture and murder of between three and six hundred peasant and noble women in the late fifteen hundreds.

    The legend and gruesome infamy of Countess Elizabeth Bathory has been the inspiration for many vampire films over the years. Harry Kümel's cult classic, Daughters Of Darkness, is one of the more popular and respected film adaptations based on the legend.

    Kümel's background as a film historian is evident in the film, with homage paid to film greats such as Josef von Sternberg and Alfred Hitchcock . He also uses wonderful art deco locations to superb effect, together with the deliberate and strategic use of the colour red throughout the film.

    Daughters Of Darkness is a delicate blending of art house cinema with the erotic vampire genre, which was so popular in the seventies and formed the basis of many a film's cult status.

    Apart from Danielle Quimet's frequently wooden and awkward acting style, the small cast all perform their roles with adequate conviction.

    Daughters Of Darkness is set in nineteen seventies Brussels. Young newlywed couple Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Quimet) arrive in Ostende for their honeymoon. They have arrived in the off-season, so they basically have the entire lavish motel to themselves. The concierge encourages them to select the room of their choice, to which they promptly select the royal suite. Valerie is insistent that Stefan calls his mother to inform her of their marriage. But Stefan secretly pays the concierge to make a bogus call and then inform them both that there was no answer. This hints to the audience early in the film that all is not what it seems and many secrets and surprises will follow.

    Two beautiful women enter the lobby while the couple are having dinner in the deserted dining room. Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) and her assistant Ilona (Andrea Rau) are immediately interested in the young couple and are keen for some information about them from the concierge. After learning the couple have taken the royal suite, the Countess requests the room right next door to them.

    The next day, while sightseeing in the nearby town of Brugge, a very disturbing side to Stefan's personality is revealed. Stefan and Valerie stumble across an ambulance and a crowd, gathered outside a house to witness the removal of a dead body. According to a retired policeman, who is taking an unsettling interest in proceedings, it's the fourth bizarre murder in a week. Each victim was female and all had been left with vampire-like markings. Stefan is transfixed as the body is carried past him and reacts violently towards Valerie when she tries to move him on.

    The Countess begins to weave an intoxicating web around the couple, drawing them into a situation they have no control over. Stefan's behaviour and persona change in ways totally foreign to Valerie. When he reacts toward her in a frenzied, uncontrolled fit of rage, Valerie decides she cannot accpet these sudden violent mood swings any longer and quickly leaves for the train station.

    The Countess dispatches Ilona to seduce Stefan, while she deviously enforces her influence on Valerie and convinces her not to board the train. When the rendezvous between Ilona and Stefan goes hideously wrong, the Countess draws ever closer to securing her immortality.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer for Daughters Of Darkness is quite acceptable.

    The film is presented in its correct and original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer exhibited a good level of sharpness throughout the film. Deep blacks were clean and free from low level noise. However, shadows were quite murky in detail and displayed varying amounts of film grain. Thankfully, this was only noticeable during a few darker scenes and didn't affect the general look of the film on DVD. This film grain is more than likely inherent in the source material.

    Colours were nicely rendered on the disc and showed no obvious problems with balance or saturation.

    There were no MPEG artefacts. Thankfully, artefacts were quite well controlled in this transfer. Some minor and insignificant edge enhancement was noticed occasionally, but this wasn't problematic. Film artefacts were surprisingly scarce, considering the age of the film.

     Unfortunately, there are no subtitles on this DVD.

     This is a single sided, dual layered disc. The layer change occurs at 72:33 and is very noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer, while not perfect, is also acceptable.

    There are two audio tracks available on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality was clear and quite easily understood for the most part. Although some passages of dialogue weren't totally clear and concise, I put this down to the fact that the film was shot with location sound. This means that all dialogue heard in the film was captured while filming the scene and no post audio work was performed on the entire film. This was very rare at the time and overall was quite an achievement, given that many of the locations were conducive to echoing.

    Audio sync presented quite well, with no significant issues.

   The original music score by François de Roubaix is consistent with other horror scores of the era. His score for Daughters Of Darkness heightens the action on screen, without bringing obvious attention to itself.

   The surround channels were not used.

   The subwoofer was used moderately to highlight bass elements in the score and the occasional bass effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras on this DVD are welcome inclusions, but as you will read in the R4 vs R1 section, they could have been even better.


    The main menu is very basic in appearance and features the artwork from the cover slick. It is static, has looped music and is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - John Karlen (Actor) and David Del Valle (Journalist)

    John and David present a very comprehensive commentary, with substantial amounts of humour thrown in. John provides the vast majority of the information, while David provides some intelligent questions and interesting observations. John reflects on his memories of the production and is very generous in relaying anecdotes about many aspects of the film, from the trivial to the more compelling.

Theatrical Trailer - Daughters Of Darkness (2:10)

Radio Spots

    Four radio advertisements, all of which run for about thirty seconds each. These play over a static image on the screen.

Poster and Stills Gallery

    A collection of behind the scenes stills and images from the film. There are also poster images and advertising materials mixed with the stills, all of which are divided into separate categories.

Umbrella Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is an Anchor Bay US all region version that was released on 27th  May 2003. This version outshines this Australian all region version in terms of extras on top of those featured in this review. The US version features an additional audio commentary from the film's director, Harry Kümel, and an on-camera interview with Andrea Rau .Even though it's an NTSC transfer, both of these extras are indeed significant and are enough to tip the scales in favour of the US all region version.


    Harry Kümel's erotically charged vampire cult classic is presented pretty well on this DVD and should please devotees of the film.

    The video and audio transfers are reasonably good.

    The selection of extras is relevant and interesting, although the absence of the Harry Kümel commentary from this version is a big disappointment.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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