Louise (Alexandra Pic) and Henriette (Isabelle Teboul) are two blind, teenage girls who live in an orphanage run by nuns. One day, a kindly doctor named Dr. Dennary comes to examine their eyes, and the nuns eventually talk him into adopting the two girls. Louise and Henriette have a secret however. Can you guess what it is? I’ll bet you can just from the title. Yep, that’s right. They’re vampires. They’re also blind during the daytime hours, but at night they can see perfectly fine, but only in shades of blue. They have been murdered by people who feared them countless times, and yet they always rise again, together, and go back on their merry way, killing and feeding. And…that’s about it. Pretty simple, huh?
This film is actually my second experience with a Jean Rollin film. My first was The Living Dead Girl, which is also reviewed in this issue, and the film I watched right before this one. This particular film is 107 minutes long. Yep, 107 painfully long minutes. Why was it so long? Well, for one thing, films tend to get that way when you continually show every step your characters take between point A and point B. I’m being very literal when I say that. I’m not talking about all the steps they take in a plan to do something. I’m talking about literally every step they take to get from one place to another. If that sounds tedious, believe me, you’re not mistaken. It may seem all artistic from a film maker’s perspective to use scenes like this in your film, but from a viewer’s perspective, it absolutely kills the pacing and makes the film drag hard. After sitting through one scene like this, you’ll be reaching for the fast forward button to get through the others.
Another problem with this film is the story itself. It’s really quite pointless and lacking in both explanation and character depth. There’s never any explanation as to why the girls are blind, or why they can see in blue shades at night. There’s no explanation as to their background or how they became vampires. There’s also no real point to anything they do, or anywhere they go in the film. Then there are the side characters, many of whom are again, fairly pointless. For example, at various points in the film, they meet a girl who’s a werewolf, one who’s a vampire who’s powers are far more advanced than theirs, and a girl who’s a ghoul that feeds off the dead, none of whom really had any relevance to the story other than showing that the orphans weren’t the only supernatural creatures creeping around out there. Their interactions really added nothing to what little story their was, which was a completely lost opportunity. Why do we have to watch them walking slowly from one place to the other, tapping their canes on the ground, and yet we’re completely shorted on any real story elements involving these potentially great characters, that could have either turned out to be allies or adversaries?
So far, we have a weak, pointless and unbelievably slow story. Was there anything good about it? Yeah, there were a couple of things actually.
First, the settings, including the graveyards, really lent themselves well to the visual appeal of the film. There was an almost gothic feel to it all, in a low budget sort of way. Second, the side characters they encountered, the werewolf girl, the vampire and the ghoul, were each somewhat interesting in their own way. I only wish they had been put to better use in the film.
That’s really about all I have to say about this film that’s good. Maybe I just don’t get it, or I’m not French enough or artsy enough to reallty grasp the vision of the film maker. Regardless, I would recommend skipping this one, unless you’re looking for something to make you fall asleep. I know this review comes off as unusually harsh or snarky compared to what I usually write, but honestly, this one was just a complete miss for me, and as a reviewer, I can only be honest about my experience. Unless you like slow, artsy films, I’d suggest skipping this one.
The special features included on the blu-ray release used for this review include the following:
Mastered in HD from the original 16mm negative.
French with English subtitles, or an English dubbed version.
"Memories of a Blue World, the Making of Les Deux Orphelines Vampires" by David Gouyette, featuring interviews with the cast and crew of the film. (2012)
An interview with Jean Rollin, by Rebecca Johnson. (2008)
A 12-page booklet with an essay by Tim Lucas, editor of Video Watchdog.
Original theatrical trailer.
Original trailers of nine other Rollin films.
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the blu-ray or DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.