Named after a famous witch, music duo Demdike Stare (aka Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty) are known for their ghostly electronic sounds of creeping inquietude. On Monday, they will be at Cinefamily to perform a live accompaniment to La Vampire Nue, directed by Jean Rollin, French master of horror and nubile bodies.
A young girl (Caroline Cartier) has a rare blood type — which no one else in the world seems to have — that both seemingly makes her allergic to the sun and gives her body regenerative properties beyond those of any human being. A man gets caught up in the mystery of this girl's identity after he witnesses her take a lethal bullet, only to later encounter her alive and well again.
To give away too much else of the snakelike twisting of the plot would be unfair. Sleepily paced, consisting of slowly creeping zooms and shots that linger a beat too long, the main strength of Rollin's film is its bevy of odd and unlikely images — such as people wearing animal-head costumes, the antlers of one head casting large shadows onto the street.
The film's wild lapses in logic, evil scientists, a vampire (maybe), a suicide cult and Gothic imagery call to mind a bizarre splicing of Andy Milligan's exploitation schlock, the stylish horror of Mario Bava and the phantasmagoric secret-society sequence of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
Demdike Stare have taken Rollin's 85-minute cult feature and stripped it of its original soundtrack (composed of apoplectic fits of discordant strings), paring the running time to a fleet 50 minutes.
According to Mahssa Taghinia of Finders Keepers Records (a co-sponsor of the event), while the narrative and intent of the film remain the same, Demdike Stare have “completely reworked the soundtrack in their own modern style, electronically, while still retaining its original feel. But perhaps it's a bit more amplified and sonically layered.”
La Vampire Nue will be followed by a screening of Harry Kumel's Daughters of Darkness, a tale of the Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory — who, legend has it, consumed the blood of young girls in order to stay forever young — played by an impossibly alluring Delphine Seyrig, who preys on a newly married couple staying at a nearly deserted hotel. With quite a few shots filmed in deep blue dusk and with Seyrig radiant in costumes of vibrant white, red and black, this is a seductive work of bold colors and sensuality.
LA VAMPIRE NUE (DEMDIKE STARE'S RE-VAMPED RE-MIX, WORLD PREMIERE LIVE SCORE) + DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS | Mon., May 7, 8 p.m. | Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre | cinefamily.org