“The Karnsteins are not a naturally happy family.”
During a masquerade ball celebrating the upcoming wedding of her cousin (Mel Ferrer) and his fiancee (Elsa Martinelli), a young woman dressed in the clothing of her vampire-ancestor emerges from a fireworks display believing she has been possessed.
Loosely based on the 1872 novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu, Roger Vadim’s softcore vampire flick with lesbian overtones bears inevitable resemblance to Roy Ward Baker’s later cult adaptation for Hammer Films, The Vampire Lovers (1970). While the visuals in Vadim’s film are impressive (and deserve a digitalized upgrade), the storyline itself is overly simplistic: because we can predict from the beginning what will occur, there’s little narrative tension throughout. Instead, we simply wonder how long this trio of lovers-plus-hanger-on will maintain its tenuous status quo (not for long, it turns out). Ultimately, Blood and Roses will be of most interest — naturally — to fans of vampire flicks, as well as those curious to see Roger Vadim’s early work before his campy space opera Barbarella (1968).
Note: The dialogue about a swordfish and a sardine provides an unexpectedly silly interlude of bawdy humor.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Claude Renoir’s cinematography
- Some memorable imagery
- Joan Prodromides’ haunting score
No, though it’s worth a look for its cult status. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.