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Harry Kümel
Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Ouimet
Writing Credits:
Harry Kümel, Jean Ferry, Pierre Drouot

A newlywed couple pass through a vacation resort and cross paths with a mysterious, strikingly beautiful countess and her aide.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 1.0
French DTS-HD MA 1.0
English for French Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $59.95
Release Date: 10/27/2020

• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Harry Kümel
• Audio Commentary with Actor John Karlen and Journalist David Del Valle
• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Kat Ellinger
• “Locations of Darkness” Featurette
• “Playing the Victim” Featurette
• “Daughter of Darkness” Featurette
• Alternate US Titles
• Poster & Still Gallery
• 3 Trailers
• 4 Radio Spots
• Blu-Ray Copy
• Bonus CD
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Daughters of Darkness [4K UHD] (1971)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 23, 2020)

Most vampire movies focus on male protagonists in the Dracula vein. With 1971’s Daughters of Darkness, we find a female-oriented take on the genre.

Newlywed couple Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) travel across Europe and make an overnight stop in Belgium. They stay in an otherwise empty resort and hear of murders that took place in the area.

Soon Stefan and Valerie cross paths with a new guest, the ageless Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory (Delphine Seyrig). These encounters lead down a dangerous path.

Will it count as a spoiler to indicate that Elizabeth is a vampire? I think the “ageless” part given with my mention of the genre in the intro would imply this, but if you didn’t figure it out in advance and I ruined a surprise: sorry!

Ehh, not really. Just a glance at this disc’s cover does everything it can to reveal the presence of vampires. If you’ve bothered with this review, you know that bloodsuckers will emerge, and the inclusion of a Hungarian countess sure seems to point in that direction.

Because the movie’s first scene introduces us to Stefan and Valerie in the midst of carnal passion, I thought that might act as a declaration of intent. Would Darkness become just a soft-core porn movie with a vampire tale attached?

Nope, as the film quickly settled into much less erotic pleasures. We don’t get any additional nudity until a quick topless shot around 42 minutes, and no sex occurs again until past the 48-minute mark – and even that one lasts just a brief moment.

That came as a relief in some ways, as I feared a movie light on plot would grow tiresome. Even with various naked babes on display, 100 minutes of 1970s light Euro porn could become tedious.

In theory, this higher focus on the characters and less on makin’ love should turn Daughters into a compelling horror tale. In reality, the movie just ends up as a slow-paced snoozer.

Daughters seems to enjoy a good reputation among genre fans, but I can’t quite figure out why. The movie feels sluggish and inert, as it lacks the narrative thrust to make it compelling.

We do get the bones of a good thriller, and in theory, I appreciate the way Daughters avoids lurid elements. Much of the drama progresses in a psychological manner, so it seems considerably less tawdry and graphic than anticipated.

All of that would work fine if Daughters didn’t seem so damned inert so much of the time. The story progresses at a glacial pace, and the tale fails to develop the characters in a particularly compelling manner.

Instead, Daughters just bides its time until we eventually get more overt action – and even that part of the movie feels less than impactful. The characters interact with each other in ways that tease potential drama, but outside of a few brief, violent moments, nothing much ever occurs.

I feel happy that Daughters tries to shift the standard vampire paradigm to a decent degree. Vlad knows we’ve gotten more than enough of the usual same old in this genre.

However, “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “better” – or even “good”. Dull and sluggish, Daughters lacks much to keep the viewer with it across 100 minutes.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B+

Daughters of Darkness appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision presentation looked surprisingly good given its age and origins.

For the most part, sharpness fared well. Occasional interiors felt a bit on the soft side, but these remained modest and appeared to reflect the source. The movie usually came with good accuracy.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and edge haloes remained absent. With a nice layer of grain, the transfer appeared to lack problematic use of noise reduction, and it also came free from print flaws.

Colors leaned toward the natural side, with occasional forays into more stylized hues. These came across with nice vivacity and punch, and the disc’s HDR allowed the tones to seem especially dynamic.

Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows boasted nice clarity. The HDR gave whites and contrast nice impact. Though not an image you’ll use to show off your 4K TV, Darkness nonetheless offered a highly satisfying presentation.

Does a 49-year-old low-budget horror film that originally came with a monaural soundtrack feel like a logical candidate for a newfangled Dolby Atmos mix? Nope, but here we are!

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, don’t expect a whole lot from that soundscape. While it expanded its horizons well beyond the one-channel source, it didn’t manage to become particularly involving.

I won’t call the Atmos track “broad mono”, but it leaned in that direction much of the time. This meant the mix spread material around the room but it failed to create many moments that offered concise localization.

On occasion, information appeared from specific spots, and some decent movement occurred as well, such as when a car drove from the back right to the front right. However, an awful lot of the soundfield just broadened the material without clear placement.

The music seemed “blobby” as well. Though the track often allowed the score to fill the spectrum, I never discerned any particular localization to the instruments, so that side of the track fell back into “broad mono” territory again.

Audio quality felt dated but decent. Dialogue became the weakest link, though not a bad aspect of the track.

Heavily looped, speech tended to come across as distant and a bit heavy on reverb. Though the lines didn’t sound especially natural, they lacked edginess and remained easily intelligible.

Music showed fairly positive range, at least given the age of the material. While the score didn’t sound especially robust, it still felt pretty vivid.

Effects lacked a lot of range and impact, but they also seemed reasonably accurate, and that lacked prominent distortion. Though I thought the Atmos presentation felt like overkill, this still became a more than acceptable rendition of the material.

Note that the 4K also came with the movie’s original DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, and I preferred it. I thought the “broad mono” soundscape became a bit of a distraction, so the mono presentation seemed more organic.

In addition, audio quality felt more natural, especially in terms of dialogue. Though the looped lines still could come across as artificial, they showed less reverb and blended more smoothly with the other elements.

On the slightly negative side, both music and effects offered a little less range and warmth on the mono track. Nonetheless, I still liked the mono version more than its Atmos counterpart, mainly because it just seemed like a better match for the film.

Also note that although Darkness was a Belgian production, the dialogue clearly was shot in English. That made the English track the original.

We get a good array of extras here, and we open with three separate audio commentaries. For the first, we hear from co-writer/director Harry Kümel. Along with moderator David Gregory, he provides a running, screen-specific look at how he came to the project, story and characters, cast and performances, editing and different versions, sets and locations, photography, music, aspects of the genre, and the film's reception.

Though Gregory chimes in at times, Kümel doesn't need a moderator, as he carries the weight on his own pretty well. He covers a good array of topics and makes this a fairly informative chat.

With the second commentary, we hear from actor John Karlen and journalist David Del Valle. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific view of aspects of the production, with an emphasis on Karlen’s experiences.

That focus makes sense, but unfortunately, Karlen reallly doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of interesting stories to tell. He and Del Valle mainly laugh and chat about the movie in vague terms.

Sure, we get the occasional nugget of information here, but the insights remain sparse, and the participants lose steam as they go. Karlen teases us with some conflicts he went through with Kümel, but he doesn’t offer a whole lot of details. Though Karlen seems like he’d be a fun guy to have a beer with, he doesn’t create a particularly interesting commentary.

For the third track, we hear from film historian Kat Ellinger. She brings a running, screen-specific discussion of aspects of the production as well as the genre and interpretation.

Ellinger turns this into a reasonably informative chat, mainly via the way she connects Darkness to other vampire movies. She gives us a good overview and turns this into a worthwhile discussion.

Three featurettes follow, and Locations of Darkness runs 21 minutes, 37 seconds. Here we find Kümel and co-writer/producer Pierre Drouot as they visit some of the movie’s original locations.

Mostly they reminisce and chat, though Drouot leaves 16 minutes into the piece. We see a little of the sets and get some fun notes along the way.

Playing the Victim spans 15 minutes, 31 second and brings an interview with actor Danielle Ouimet. She discusses her career and impressions of the Darkness production. Ouimet brings a nice collection of memories.

For the last featurette, we get the seven minute, 58-secondDaughter of Darkness. In it, actor Andrew Rau chats about how she got into films and her experiences with Darkness. She makes this another useful chat.

Alternate US Main Titles go for one minute, 56 seconds. These just offer minor variations on the existing titles.

In addition to three trailers and four radio spots, we find a Poster and Still Gallery. It shows 115 images and become a nice compilation.

A second disc brings a Blu-ray copy of Darkness. It includes all the same extras as the 4K.

Note that this Blu-ray boasts the 2020 remaster found on the 4K, so it doesn’t simply duplicate the previous release of Darkness. As far as I can tell, Blue Underground doesn’t offer this 2020 Blu-ray on its own.

A third disc provides a CD soundtrack for Darkness. It lasts 49 minutes and adds a nice bonus for fans.

Finally, the package concludes with a booklet. It presents photos, credits and an essay from Michael Gingold. The booklet finishes the set on a positive note.

Though Daughters of Darkness promises erotic horror, it succeeds in neither realm. Instead, it becomes a slow, uneventful vampire tale with little to make it interesting. The 4K UHD offers surprisingly strong visuals along with acceptable audio and a nice mix of bonus materials. Darkness fails to create a winning effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main