If one had to summarize the works of Jean Rollin into just two words, I would pick “vampires” and “nudity”. Not just because the director made a movie called La Vampire Nue, but mainly because it’s hard to think of a Rollin movie without gratuitous nudity.
Not that I’m not lauching a general complaint against Rollin’s obsession with naked women, it’s just that in most of his movies there’s so much of it things can get a bit boring: oh, more nudity, more fake blood, …
Les Deux Orphelines Vampires was Rollin’s penultimate movie. It was made in 1997 and starred – no real shocker if you known a bit of French – two young girls who live in an orphanage.
So what makes them characters for Jean Rollin rather than Charles Dickens? They are blind, but not always. At night their vision returns, even though everything looks a bit more blue. But it’s not just their eyesight that returns, it’s also their fangs. Yes, every night these two girls, the sweetest girls in the orphanage, transform into bloodsucking creatures.
Teenage girls in an orphanage who are vampires… you get frightened only of the thought how Rollin could’ve turned this into a sleazefest that overstays its welcome, but no, for once the director toned down his usual style and made an effort. There’s an actual plot in this movie, not just trying to make it to some forlorn castle for whatever reason so all the women can get derobed.
Which brings us to one of the lesser elements of the movie: the plot. Whereas some people in the movie just can’t seem to make their text seem natural, it must be said that some of the dialogues are quite peculiar. It sounds as if Rollin was trying to win a poetry prize with his script. And it’s not good poetry either, but rather the work of a hermit who should really get some fresh air into his house.
During their nightly visits the girls meet other women. The orphans claim to be Aztec vampires, but the other girls say they’re creatures of the night too (a werewolf, a ghoul…) Not that Rollin bothered to make his werewolf woman look like a werewolf. No, he just wrote her some hyperbolic monologue which should make us believe she is a werewolf.
Especially the ghoul’s monologue is completely hammy and horribly unconvincing.
Then again, the orphans could be making all of this up, who knows?
The girls are lucky enough to leave the orphanage when a doctor takes them into his house. Sure enough they leave the house every night to get fresh blood and noone ever notices them. Not that one should pay attention to such trivial matters as a believable plot or continuity (the girls’ canes sometimes pop up from nowhere), this is a Rollin movie after all.
This helps the movie greatly, as there are only so many victims the girls could make around an orphanage without being discovered. The woman who gets murdered in a circus is another scene which shows Rollin’s stronger points: he really knew how to make a scene look good. Sadly, the man was not powerful enough to make the scene itself good. It may look great, but if it’s completely unbelievable, the scene will lose a lot of its strength.
That the girls only have night vision and everything looks blueish to them was a better idea: it not only helps us see when the girls are on the prowl again, it also gives the movie a look that helps it distinguish itself from the rest.
Alexandra Pic and Isabelle Teboul probably didn’t get a César for their performance, but it wouldn’t be fair to say they were not good. Isabelle Teboul (Henrietta) never became a professional actress (her only two other performances were as an uncredited extra and as ‘Nurse 3’), but here she has a scene where she has most of the lines and you’ll notice that the scene doesn’t cut for five minutes.
After Les Deux Orphelines Vampires in 1997, Rollin waited five years before making his next movie (La Fiancée de Dracula) and allegedly his next movie, La Nuit des Horloges, will be completed soon, so he is no longer the prolific filmer he once was. Most fans say Rollin is well past his prime since the seventies. They may have a point, but I was never a big fan of Rollin. If you want to see a typical Rollin movie, it may be best to avoid Les Deux Orphelines Vampires. If, however, you felt unsatisfied by a movies that existed for 75% out of naked women biting other naked women in castles, you may want to give this movie a shot. Despite all its faults the atmosphere is right and some scenes are truly gorgeous.
Plus, if you want to play “Whatever Happened To…?” you may want to see this movie for another reason: cult porn star and Rollin favourite Brigitte Lahaie and Tina Aumont (Torso, Salon Kitty) have small roles in this picture. See if you can identify them. It’ll give you something to sit through the drearier scenes.