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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 8/24/99

The Redemption Films on DVD

reviews by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

back to Redemption index

Requiem for a Vampire

Requiem for a Vampire
1971 (1999) - Redemption (Image)

Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): D-/B+/A

Specs and Features:

88 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer in both English and French, behind-the-scenes "liner notes", still and publicity photos, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English & French (DD mono), subtitles: English

Clive Barker's Salome & the Forbidden

Clive Barker's Salome & The Forbidden
1973/1975-1978 - Redemption (Image)

Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/B+/B+

Specs and Features:

78 mins (approx), NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, original Bravo UK "Mad Countess" introduction with Eileen Daly, interview with Clive Barker and closing remarks on these shorts, film-themed menu screens, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none

The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine

The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine
1974 (1998) - Redemption (Image)

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B+/B+

Specs and Features:

93 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, original Bravo UK "Fetish" introduction with Eileen Daly, film-themed menu screens, scene access (14 chapters), languages: Italian (DD mono), subtitles: English

Requiem for a Vampire

In case you don't know, a "requiem" is defined as being either a Catholic mass for a dead person(s), or a musical composition (or hymn) conducted for said mass. Before you think that I'm talking down to you, or telling you something you already know, consider this: of all the Redemption titles so far released on DVD, Requiem for a Vampire is the only one (aside from Devil's Nightmare) that has had more than two name changes here in the U.S. Fans of Eurosleaze (and Jean Rollin) know it best as Caged Virgins, a title given to the film by American schlock distributor Harry Novak. It's a funny story, because Requiem was the name given the film by an American ex-patriot named Sam Selsky, who became a theater owner/importer/producer. The original shooting title for the film was Virgins and Vampires, a title Selsky hated, and ended up offering a prize to whomever could rename it (Selsky eventually won his own prize - how did that work, do you suppose?). When he heard that Novak renamed the film Caged Virgins, he was heard to mutter that he would kill Novak. Selsky then thought better of it, saying that Americans probably didn't even know what Requiem meant anyway. Well, now you know.

Requiem for a Vampire was an experiment for director/writer Jean Rollin. Remembering how (as a child) he marvelled at how campfire stories are told right on the spot, he decided that he would write a script that way. He sat down at a typewriter, and started with his trademark: "two girls named Marie and Michele". The story started to flow, events popped into his mind, and a climax was settled upon. This odd approach to film writing MAY explain why there is hardly any dialogue in the film. I mean, our two heroines (if we can call them that) don't have their first real exchange until a little after the 50-minute mark. Although, I guess it matters little considering the dialogue isn't very good, anyway.

The film follows the two girls, virginal runaways, on the run from the law (we're introduced to them dressed as clowns, and in a shootout with another car that's chasing them down). The girls end up in a castle (naturally), where they strip down and cuddle naked atop a purple fur rug. As they awake, they find themselves being chased by what must be vampires (must be, because they have two goofy fangs sticking down out of the corners of their mouths). It's all very confusing and surreal -- none of it goes anywhere, and the plot gets really silly from here (because the girls are virgins, they are apparently the only ones who can save the vampires from extinction). Cheesy fun abounds as the beautiful virgins run from their tormentors (who eventually do find a torture chamber filled with buxom young victims to pillage), hang each other by chains, and taunt young men in an attempt to get them to enter the castle and become food. Yes, it's all very sexist (but it's artfully done - I don't know if that redeems this flick or not). The movie itself isn't very good in terms of horror films, and it's a bit too surreal for you to walk away feeling like you enjoyed the film. It IS standard Rollin though, full of his trademark alienation, castles, vampires and torture.

The transfer on this DVD is quite horrid, though. I honestly think it's among the worst looking DVDs Image Entertainment has released. It's very noisy looking right from the start, and it doesn't get any better as it goes on. I was very, very disappointed with this disc. The sound is fine, a strong mono that is pretty much the norm for these Redemption titles. The extras do save this DVD a bit. The liner notes are very informative, there's a huge collection of photos, and the trailer is quite fun -- a miniature version of the film in both French and English. The film is dubbed in English, or you can watch it subtitled (the subs appear on the film and are very readable). I'd hate to kill anyone's collection of Redemption DVDs by telling you to stay away from this one, but I think I have to. For the completists out there, and for fans of Rollin, at least the film is out for you on DVD. But for everyone else, if video quality is important, you might want to pass.

Clive Barker's Salome and The Forbidden

In 1970s Liverpool, England, a young artist, playwright and filmmaker named Clive Barker... disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later his footage was found. Wait a second - that's not right. Jeez-Louise. Wait, here's how it really goes: Clive Barker, (currently out of favor, but at one time king of all things horror), made a few short films with his University friends and fellow actors, back in the 70s. He did most of the special effects, all the directing, and even some of the acting. This is what he came up with: two shorts, Salome and The Forbidden -- surrealistic, grainy, black and white experiments. They give a nice little insight into the mind of a literary genius, but the one thing they do scream is "student films!"

Salome is based on the play by Oscar Wilde, concerning a stripper who gets some guy's head on a plate. There's no dialogue, and it's overly monotonous with evil close-ups of angry faces, half-naked bodies dancing, and plenty of black blood. The Forbidden is a bit better, this time exploring the Faust story of soul selling. Barker gets a bit more daring with his filmmaking by using polarized film techniques, where black looks white and white looks black. The best thing about this one is, Peter Atkins (writer of the Hellraiser sequels) is convincingly flayed like a fish. It's all arty and gross, but seeing is believing with this one. The shorts are more a novelty than anything else, and if you never see them, I don't think your world will fall in upon itself. If you have no knowledge of Barker's style and inner-meanings, you're not going to walk away with anything from these films. But if you're a huge fan of Barker, you'll very much appreciate them.

This DVD does NOT have incredibly good looking transfers of these shorts anyway. The elements are pretty old, and improperly stored, so most of it is quite rough looking. The film is grainy, and the transfer is a little too full of digital artifacts for my taste. The music is actually in stereo, and is used well -- there is no dialogue during the film, just the moody musical score. Extras on the disc include a pretty good interview with Clive Barker about the films and what they mean to him, and the original Redemption intro with spokesvampiress Eileen Daly. God bless her. For the Clive junky, this is a must see, but for every other person out there, go get MGM's special edition of Lord of Illusions. You'll be happier in the long run.

The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine

Well -- all right, all right. Wanna know why I like nunsploitation? I was one of those lucky Yankees who went to a city Catholic school run by priests and women dressed as penguins. I know that I should probably have a parochial school girl fetish, but I don't. That's a tired stripper thing, that frankly I'm bored with. You can only have your wife dress up like a schoolgirl a few times before she starts to wonder about you. Now, chicks dressing up like nuns at a strip clubs -- that would be the bomb. Shame on me.

As nunsploitation flicks go, this movie's pretty good. We find ourselves witnessing a man on the run, taking refuge in a convent. He knows the man at the door, and is quickly let in. What happens next is a sort of twist on the Romeo and Juliet story. The young refugee is in love with a young nun there, who was put in the convent by her father, so that she could be kept away from said beloved. The convent is ruled by an evil Mother Superior who, when not bedding down with her young nuns, seduces any young man in the convent. After the young man's beloved is falsely accused of a crime, she is taken away by the Inquisitor to get information. To find out where she is, the young man seduces the Mother Superior, and eventually teams up with the girl's father to save her life. He goes through all this, only to find that his love was placed back into the convent, after it was determined that the nuns there were in bed with Satan, and are to be walled inside to die. Will the young man save his true love?! Oh, why not.

Sinful Nuns or not, this is a fun piece of Italian junk cinema - the type of thing that is easy to watch. That is, unless you have either a fear of nuns, or such a strict religious upbringing that this sort of thing offends you. I look at it as not being blasphemy, but more like pure exploitation cinema. It is what it is, and it works as such.

With hairs on the matt line right from the start, you know you're in trouble in terms of DVD quality. Okay, so the hairs aren't really a DVD problem, but they're there. The transfer is pretty good otherwise -- it looks pretty natural, and not digital-looking at all. The film has a bright look to it anyway, so there aren't too many dark areas that can give MPEG-2 compression trouble. Sound is the standard mono, full and useful. Extras include an intro about fetishism in horror, and a trailer. No big deal, but did you expect one?

All in all, I've come to enjoy the Redemption line on DVD. Most of this stuff is brainless, but it's an enjoyable kind of brainless. And Sinful Nuns is a cherry on an already delicious sundae.

Todd Doogan

back to Redemption index

Requiem for a Vampire

Clive Barker's Salome & The Forbidden

The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine

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