Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Daughters of Darkness: 4K Remaster – Blue Underground (4k UHD/Blu-ray/CD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Belgium/France/West Germany, 1971
Director: Harry Kümel
Writers: Pierre Drouot, Harry Kümel, Jean Ferry, Manfred R. Köhler
Cast: Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Ouimet, Andrea Rau, Paul Esser, Georges Jamin, Joris Collet, Fons Rademakers

Release Date: October 27th, 2020
Approximate Running Time: 100 minutes 7 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Atmos English, DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English for French language track
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $59.95

"International screen icon Delphine Seyrig (LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD) stars as Elizabeth Bathory, an ageless Countess with a beautiful young 'companion' (Goth goddess Andrea Rau) and a legendary legacy of perversion. But when the two women seduce a troubled newlywed couple (Canadian beauty Danielle Ouimet and John Karlen of DARK SHADOWS and CAGNEY & LACEY), they unleash a frenzy of sudden violence and depraved desire that shocked both art house audiences and grindhouse crowds worldwide." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (4K UHD), 4.5/5 (Blu-ray)

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "scanned in 4K 16-bit from its long-lost original 35mm camera negative, with Dolby Vision HDR."

Daughters of Darkness comes on a 100 GB triple layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 91.6 GB

Feature: 67.2 GB

Daughters of Darkness comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 35.8 GB

Feature: 23.4 GB

This is another stunning restoration from Blue Underground that’s a massive upgrade from this film’s previous home video releases. Colors look vibrant and correct, image clarity and black levels look solid throughout. There are no issues with compression and the grain retains a filmic look. Needless to say, even if you have seen Daughters of Darkness before, this new transfer will be like watching the film for the very first time.

Audio: 5/5 (Dolby Atmos)

This release comes with four audio mixes, a Dolby Atmos mix in English; a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English; a DTS-HD Mono mix in English; and a DTS-HD Mono mix in French. The DTS-HD mono English and DTS-HD mono French tracks are carried over from Blue Underground’s 2011 Blu-ray release. The new audio tracks are the Dolby Atmos English and DTS-HD 5.1 English tracks. For this review, we listened to the Dolby Atmos track. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, ambient sounds are well-represented, and the score sounds robust. The Dolby Atmos track is an exemplary mix that does a superb job of maximizing the sound spectrum. Included with this release are the following subtitle options: English SDH, French, Spanish, and English for the French language track.

Extras:

Extras on the 4K UHD include an image gallery (115 images – stills/lobby cards/posters/home video & soundtrack art/other promotional materials), alternate U.S. opening title sequence (1 minute 56 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), four radio spots (30 seconds each, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U.S. theatrical trailer (2 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), French trailer for the film (1 minute 43 seconds, Dolby Digital mono French with removable English subtitles), International trailer under the title Promise of Red Lips (3 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actress Andrea Rau titled Daughter of Darkness (7 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo German with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actress Danielle Ouimet titled Playing the Victim (15 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with director Harry Kümel and producer Pierre Drouot titled Locations of Darkness (21 minutes 37 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English. No subtitles), an archival audio commentary with Harry Kümel and moderated by David Gregory, an archival audio commentary actor John Karlen and journalist David Del Valle, and an audio commentary with Kat Ellinger, author of Devil’s Advocates: Daughters of Darkness.

Extras on the Blu-ray include an image gallery (115 images – stills/lobby cards/posters/home video & soundtrack art/other promotional materials), alternate U.S. opening title sequence (1 minute 56 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), four radio spots (30 seconds each, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U.S. theatrical trailer (2 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), French trailer for the film (1 minute 43 seconds, Dolby Digital mono French with removable English subtitles), International trailer under the title Promise of Red Lips (3 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actress Andrea Rau titled Daughter of Darkness (7 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo German with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actress Danielle Ouimet titled Playing the Victim (15 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with director Harry Kümel and producer Pierre Drouot titled Locations of Darkness (21 minutes 37 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English. No subtitles), an archival audio commentary with Harry Kümel and moderated by David Gregory, an archival audio commentary actor John Karlen and journalist David Del Valle, and an audio commentary with Kat Ellinger, author of Devil’s Advocates: Daughters of Darkness.

Other extras include a limited-edition Lenticular 3D slipcover, reversible cover art, a CD that contains the score for the film, and a twenty-two-page booklet with cast and crew info, a lengthy essay about the film titled Daughters of Darkness: A Family History written by Michael Gingold, and information about the CD that contains the film’s score and bonus tracks.

Included with this release is a Blu-ray that contains Daughters of Darkness and all of the extras.

Summary:

Though vampires have long been a staple of cinema since its early days, outside of a few exceptions like Vampyr and Blood and Roses, most vampire films are populated by male vampires. Then, starting in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970's, there was an influx of female vampire films. Most notably, Vampyros Lesbos, The Blood Spattered Bride, Jean Rollin’s (The Rape of the Vampire, The Nude Vampire, The Shiver of the Vampires, Requiem for a Vampire) and Daughter of Darkness.

Content wise, though, Daughters of Darkness takes inspiration from Elizabeth Báthory, a countess who tortured and killed hundreds of young girls and bathed in their blood. The result is a film that ultimately transcends its inspiration by creating one of cinema’s more unique vampire films.

From a production standpoint, Daughters of Darkness is an extraordinary film where everything perfectly falls into place. The well-executed narrative does a great job of building sexual tension, and the finale provides a very satisfying coda. Another strength of Daughters of Darkness is how it strays away from most vampire cinema’s staples.

Performance wise, the cast are all very good in their respective roles, especially Delphine Seyrig’s (Last Year at Marienbad, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) ethereal portrayal of Countess Bathory. She delivers a mesmerizing performance that dominates the screen. Another performance of note is Andrea Rau in the role of Countess Bathory’s faithful servant Ilona.

Not to be overlooked when discussing Daughters of Darkness is the look of the film. Every inch of every frame is exquisitely composed for maximum effect. Another area where the visuals excel is their use of color, specifically red and blue. And François de Roubaix’s hypnotic score reinforces the mood. Daughters of Darkness was one of the first films to introduce me to European cult cinema, and every time I revisit Daughters of Darkness, my appreciation for this extraordinary film increases.

Daughters of Darkness makes its way to 4K UHD via an exceptional release from Blue Underground that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and an abundance of insightful extras, highly recommended.

                                                               4K UHD screenshots.












Written by Michael Den Boer

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