Vampiric Lust

Daughters of Darkness remains one of the most elegant and stately vampire movies from the 1970s with a beautiful cast and superb direction. An immortal Elizabeth Bathory sets her eyes on a newlywed couple, hoping to seduce the young wife into her unsavory lifestyle. The lesbian-themed vampire classic has stood the test of time as a psychosexual thriller driven by illicit desire.

International screen star Delphine Seyrig (Last Year At Marienbad) stars as Elizabeth Bathory in director Harry Kumel’s mesmerizing horror movie. Bathory travels with her preternaturally stunning companion Ilona (German actress Andrea Rau) around Europe, never staying long in any one spot for fear Bathory’s vampiric nature is discovered by locals. Blood and death always follow in their wake.

Young newlyweds Stefan (Dark Shadows’ John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) end up staying one night at a deserted beach hotel because it is the hotel’s off-season in the winter. Countess Bathory soon arrives and becomes instantly smitten with the beautiful Valerie. Forcing herself on the couple, reports of local murders become a hot topic of discussion.

Daughters of Darkness is a stylish vampire thriller with fangs hitting on all cylinders

Only a few days into their new marriage, Stefan and Valerie are already having problems despite an intense sexual connection. Valerie starts picking up hints of Stefan’s darker side and why he may not be husband material. Her mindset isn’t helped as Stefan avoids telling his parents about the new marriage.

Made in Europe, the sleek narrative is driven by an intriguing menagerie of characters and an appetizing atmosphere. Avoiding explicit gore, an air of depraved satisfaction hangs over the production as Valerie is seduced away from her husband. There’s less overt violence and rampant nudity than one might expect from a lesbian vampire thriller.

Daughters of Darkness is a stylish vampire thriller with fangs hitting on all cylinders. The inspired atmosphere, the excellent cast, a taut and intriguing screenplay, there’s nothing here vampire fans won’t enjoy.

Video

Stunning! I am almost left speechless. Easily the biggest selling point of this expensive limited edition is a masterful 4K restoration from Blue Underground. Daughters of Darkness has never looked this good. The original Blu-ray, now around ten years old, had a passable transfer from serviceable elements. Daughters of Darkness looks brand-new and overwhelmingly amazing on UHD. The new 4K film scan is a quantum leap in picture quality and color rendition.

Lovingly scanned in 4K 16-bit from its original 35mm camera negative, the Dolby Vision-encoded HDR pass pulls out detail and definition rarely seen from any film, much less an underground European thriller from the Seventies. The 1.66:1 presentation at 2160P resolution exudes incredible fine detail with wonderful film-like authenticity.

Running a fully uncut and uncensored 100 minutes, the main feature is generously spread over a triple-layer BD-100 UHD. The HEVC compression parameters completely capture every nuance and subtle texture possible in perfect transparency. The brilliant splashes of red keep full integrity without a hint of color banding. The transfer has been meticulously handled without egregious filtering, leaving the celluloid grain structure fully intact.

Sharp as a tack with depth and projection, the sleek cinematography comes alive with superior shadow delineation and deep black levels. This is one area that shows a dramatic improvement over the BD’s transfer. A beautifully consistent contrast and nicely saturated colors make the video pop with clarity.

Normally one has to qualify all of these comments for vintage films, especially genre flicks. Blue Underground has wildly surpassed my PQ expectations and show what a well-managed Dolby Vision-encoded HDR pass can produce on UHD. This is easily one of the finest 4K transfers ever struck and should be a guidepost for future restorations of classic cinema. The sumptuous color grading has been personally supervised and approved by director Harry Kumel.

Audio

The biggest beneficiary to the new English Dolby Atmos soundtrack, created exclusively for this UHD set, is a slightly more open soundstage for composer François de Roubaix’s slinky orchestral score. Daughter of Darkness was originally intended for monaural audio in English and French, featuring a limited sound design beyond basic mono. The stylish cult thriller has serviceable audio quality but make no mistake, the 1971 Euro production sounds dated with cramped dynamics and a generally thin, pinched tone.

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack adds a little punch, sprucing up the front soundstage with mildly more intelligible dialogue. Nothing here is going to blow your socks off in terms of imaging or fidelity, though the moody ocean sounds create an interesting sonic atmosphere.

Optional English SDH, English (for the French audio), French, and Spanish subtitles are offered in a white font. In addition to the new Dolby Atmos remix, both the original English and French mono soundtracks are here in 1.0 DTS-HD MA for audio purists. There’s also an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA selection.

Extras

Blue Underground outdoes themselves with a magnificent package for this limited edition three-disc affair featuring a stunning lenticular slipcover. The set includes the movie on both UHD and Blu-ray. The third disc is a CD for the original motion picture soundtrack by French film composer François de Roubaix. The collectible booklet has an excellent new essay by Michael Gingold. All in all, it’s a comprehensive and state-of-the-art set that makes it the final word on the film.

Retail pricing has been trending north of $50 but Blue Underground’s lavish limited edition UHD package is well worth it. Boasting a meticulous new 4K film transfer with Dolby Vision encoding and interesting all-new special features, no one should feel guilty splurging for Daughters of Darkness at that price. This is the last time you’ll ever need to buy the film.

Reversible cover artwork is provided, arriving in Blue Underground’s customary translucent three-disc cases. Attractive looking on the shelf with an all-black slipcover, this is one release that will stick out in your collection. The included BD plays in all regions.

Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Writer / Director Harry Kümel – Recorded in 2003, this sprawling commentary has Kümel offering his insights into the production and interesting behind-the-scenes nuggets.

Audio Commentary #2 with Actor John Karlen and Journalist David Del Valle – Recorded in 1998, the movie’s star John Karlen has fond memories of the production in the generally jovial discussion.

Audio Commentary #3 with Author Kat Ellinger (New) – The British genre expert covers different ground than the other commentaries, highlighting the movie’s moody atmosphere and crisp cinematography. Author of Devil’s Advocates: Daughters of Darkness, she offers keen insight into what makes Daughters of Darkness tick.

Locations of Darkness (21:37 in Upscaled HD) – 2006 interviews with Co-Writer/Director Harry Kümel and Co-Writer/Co-Producer Pierre Drouot in which the hotel used for shooting is shown.

Playing the Victim (15:31 in HD) – 2006 interview with Danielle Ouimet, the Canadian actress that played the young Valerie. She was cast because she had little acting experience and mentions what it was like working under director Harry Kümel.

Daughter of Darkness (07:57 in HD) – 2003 interview with German actress Andrea Rau, who played Ilona. In Rau’s native German with English subtitles.

Radio Spots – Four radio ads advertise the movie.

Poster & Still Gallery (123 images) – A collection of movie posters, lobby cards, set photographs and other related movie items.

Alternate U.S. Main Titles (HD)

US Theatrical Trailer

International Theatrical Trailer

French Theatrical Trailer (optional English subtitles)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Daughters of the Darkness
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

The seminal lesbian vampire thriller has a sophisticated atmosphere with star Delphine Seyrig as the seductive Countess Bathory.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 63 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: