Vampyros Lesbos, if the name sounds familiar then you my friend are more than just an average horror fan. By no means the most obscure films of the European horror community, Jesus Franco’s work is usually love it or hate it sort of affairs. His work is usually much more sexual in theme than violent, and this occasionally throws off some viewers but his best work was always gothic in texture and beautiful to the eye. I don’t want to fool you however, we’re not here to discuss the original Vampyros Lesbos, we are discussing Matthew Saliba’s "remake" of sorts. I have experience with Matthew’s work already, having reviewed his previous short "She Was Asking For It" – a film told in still frames while set to music, detailing an S&M assault on a man by women and his quest for revenge. Vampyros Lesbos follows along in a similar vein. Telling the story of a couple who go to a show and watch as a lady on stage begins a curious act that involves a nude woman being bitten on the neck. The lady in red who does the biting is revealed to be a vampire of sorts. As she wanders into the audience, she takes her eyes to the couple and begins to woo the young woman while her man sits agasp. Later that night as the couple try to become intimate, it is revealed that the lady in red is still on the young woman’s mind – and she may very well be coming for her.
I don’t want to give up too much of the plot, as it is only a twenty minute short but you can assume where this might be going… scratch that, you still have no idea where this is heading. Saliba is a filmmaker looking to break into something new that is obvious. I can only assume that his films might reflect some of his own sexual nature, or perhaps he is just looking to open new doors within his audience. Regardless, if sadomasochism scares you – this work might not be for you. However, if it is right up your alley – this film and its director might be just the thing you are looking for! For the rest of us that can stomach it and can understand, you will find some truly intriguing cinema. As mentioned this film is told through still frames, with no voiceover work and is accompanied by music only. This may seem distracting, but it actually works dramatically well. The photography in the film is stunning to say the least. With lighting of a dream world and makeup/costumes that are equally as astonishing – most independent filmmakers would simply foam at the mouth with jealousy to produce something as lavish and lush. This is what sets Salibas work so drastically apart from the crowd, whereas one might think this sort of filmmaking with an S&M slant might come off as pornographic or too intense to be considered artistic – Saliba counterbalances everything with showmanship and filmmaking prowess that gives true class and grace to content possibly not suitable for all audiences.
In conclusion, whether or not this is for you should be clear at this point – but if you can handle the sexuality and you are looking for something unique in a true visual barrage: I highly recommend this as well as She Was Asking For It. Matthew Saliba is truly an interesting figure and I know I will be keeping an eye on his work. If you’re looking for more info on this film or Salibas other projects, check out his myspace page on myspace. This is definitely a one of a kind sort of film, and how many times do you say that about remakes?