Druillet’s vampires


Le Viol du Vampire (1968) or Rape of the Vampire (stay classy, Jean!); re-titled Queen of the Vampires for the Anglophone world.

We’re so inundated these days with vampires and—worse—fucking zombies, that I’ll be perfectly happy if I never see another bloodsucker or shambling corpse again. But let’s overlook the degrading of horror staples for a moment to consider Philippe Druillet‘s excursions into the art of the cinema poster.


La Vampire Nue (1969).

These pieces are for Jean Rollin‘s first three films, additions to the groovy-lesbian-vampire-with-false-eyelashes-and-bare-boobs sub-genre made at a time—the late 60s—when all the European film studios, Hammer included, were pushing the erotic content of their films more than had previously been dared. Rollin’s erotic comic strip from 1967, Saga de Xam, featured art contributions from Druillet, among others, which no doubt explains the choice of artist. As with David Palladini’s fantastic design for Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), these are further examples of how unique and distinctive film posters once were in a way they rarely are today. (Druillet, incidentally, produced his own adaptation of Nosferatu in 1989.)


Le Frisson des Vampires (1970).

Pages from the fabulously rare Saga de Xam feature in the Art Nouveau catalogue that was the subject of yesterday’s post. So too does Druillet’s poster for Le Frisson des Vampires although any of these pieces would have made suitable inclusions. Even more than in his comic strips Druillet’s work here shows the overt influence of Alphonse Mucha.

Most of Rollin’s films seem to be available on DVD should you be desperate for some fangs and boobs. I’d much rather see Saga de Xam be reissued; it’s been out of print since 1967 and the copies available go for upwards of £200. This site has samples of the pages and there’s a post about the book (in French) here. For more about Jean Rollin, see Fascination: the Jean Rollin Experience.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Art Nouveau dance goes on forever
Salammbô illustrated
Druillet meets Hodgson
The music of Igor Wakhévitch

15 thoughts on “Druillet’s vampires”

  1. A friend of mine has the full quad poster of La Vampire Nue hanging in his house – cost him a fortune – but its truly wonderful.
    Ive been a fan of Druillet since i was a child, after seeing his work in “Masters of Comic Book Art” by PR Garriock, a hugely influential book in my life (it used to be a regular in bargain bookshops in the late 70s).
    Jean Rollin is another favourite – a pulp visionary, a b movie auteur. Theres way more to his best films than just boobs and blood (plenty of those too though). Surreal and dreamlike and full of startling images. His films are totally unique and very personal. Like all outsider art, they work as a compromise between his limitations as a director (and his budget) and his flaming psychedelic vision. Hippy vampire women appearing from grandfather clocks, girls in clown costumes having gunfights, rapacoius sailors,animal masked cults, dark cities, labyrinthine cemetaries, undead nazis,abbatoirs, deserted beaches and great prog/psych jazz soundtracks. And loads of boobs, blood and lesbians, i have to admit………

  2. Oh ,and id love to see the Saga of Xam reissued too – been looking for years , not even a downloadable copy to be found anywhere……………

  3. The Druillet posters are truly beautiful. I thought I had never seen a Rollin film, but it turns out I was wrong. Scrolling down on that Fascination website, I came across their analysis of a Rollin film called “The Scent Of Mathilda”. It’s an adult film and from the screencaps I realised I have seen it on cable some time ago (what can I say, I was bored at the time). I am sorry to report that (like most hardcore pornography) it only serves one function and I can’t imagine anyone sitting through the whole thing for the plot. Still, the actresses were very beautiful and the atmosphere vaguely gothic and dreamlike, so I guess that’s something. Perhaps I should check out his 70s vampire movies – although I am a bit worried that those groovy posters promise much more than the films can possibly deliver. Also, “Viol Du Vampire” is such a crass title that it’s almost more quaint than offensive.

  4. Lord Cornelius Plum: As with our earlier discussion of low-budget psych cinema, these kind of cheap horror films often erode my patience far too quickly. But I’ve always liked the look of the stills I’ve seen from Rollin’s vampire things, and I think I’m probably more favourably disposed towards them now than I might have been in the past. Harry Kumel’s Daughters of Darkness is more my kind of thing where the vampire lesbians are concerned.

    Masters of Comic Book Art was a big favourite of mine too, I think I found a copy at the same time I started buying Heavy Metal magazine in the late 70s. The Druillet and Barry Smith sections were the ones which really caught my attention.

    Dimitris: Many of these erotic horror films serve (or served…they’re rather tame now) as porn by other means, so it’s not so surprising if the porn content eventually pushes everything else out of the way. David DeCoteau‘s recent productions are the gay equivalent, vague horror scenarios that involve very buff shirtless guys running around in their underwear. On the buff-guys-in-their-underwear level they’re pleasantly diverting but I don’t think anyone makes great claims for the rest of their content.

  5. Ayami Kojima is more contermporary and, in some circles, somewhat more mainstream equivalent to Druillet’s Romantic Art-Nouveau phantasmagoria. Games are a newer medium, certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and a hick like me has business criticizing those who are slow to accept or even adamant against emerging media, but while movies are more or less becoming a lost art, as are creative means of advertising them, games appear to have filled in that niche, with mixed results. In America Eidos is one of the only studios to take a somewhat artistic direction, but in Japan such measures are thankfully the norm, as painters and ‘not’ digital artists like Kojima prove.



  6. Thanks, I’d not come across Kojima’s work before. Gorgeous stuff and it makes a change seeing painted work when so many artists (myself included) are using digital tools all the time.

  7. Yes, I am not trying to knock all things digital, but artists like her are living proof that traditional methods can still more than hold their own against newer ones, which are overused and done laughably in modern films. If anying, should the film industry still have foresight and actually care about its future, they would employ more people who follow Druillet’s example, painting film posters that are better than the movies themselves, at least to trick people into paying to see such tripe.

    This isn’t aimed at Rollin himself, he may have been the Cocteau of what would now be written off as low-brow, but many films of their kind were advertised by posters that were masterpieces in and of themselves, better than the movies, as I already said.

    Ms. Kojima’s work is far more visually arresting than any tacky-looking CGI werewolf and ‘scary barbed-wire lettering’ that LionsGate or any of those goofballs could print onto a poster. A lot of people wouldn’t like it, but they would certainly remember it, her paintings have a character which freezes a part of the spectator’s brain in place and effortlessly keeps their attention in a way that a deadline driven digital advertisement can’t.

    Honestly though, I don’t care if filmmakers can’t see this, as long as some artists of this sort are given the leverage to create they deserve in one industry or another, it means there are still some intelligent creatures on earth.

  8. Daughters of Darkness is easily one of my favourite films of all time. Delphine Seyrig is one of the great screen villians (although i think of here more as a heroine)
    The Scent Of Mathilda would be one of the porn films rollin made under the alias Michel Gentil. He claims to hate them.
    “the Cocteau of lowbrow “? wow! i dont think even i would go that far……..

  9. Sorry, I’ve only seen Rape of… and Fascination, enough to know his movies are worth watching and better than most of what is considered to be trash cinema. Cocteau is hit and miss for me anyway. His Beauty and the Beast I thought was very cool, but as much as much as I wanted to see what others apparenty saw in them, I couldn’t stand Blood of a Poet and the next of the Orphic movies, I can’t remember the title.

    I certainly didn’t want to call him the Lynch of lowbrow, since Lynch can do things no one, not even like Bergman or Tarkovsky could. The term ‘low brow’ really doesn’t apply either, but I don’t want to write Rollin off as sleaze either. Rollin will always be one of those curious odd types for whom those dense-headed jerks who watch True Blood or Twilight would never understand.

  10. I love “the Cocteau of lowbrow”. Im not going to be able to see any of his films without thinking of that!!

  11. Kim Newman wrote a great book about horror cinema which he called Nightmare Movies, his thesis being that the term was broader than mere horror and could encompass works such as Eraserhead which was never intended as a generic horror film. I’d say we need a similar term like Oneiric Cinema which can draw together the kinds of films which are inherently dreamlike but non-generic, as those by Cocteau and the Quays are, whilst being able to accommodate generic works like Murnau’s and Herzog’s Nosferatu, or, for that matter, Rollin’s vampire films.

  12. Yes, id say that was about right. Horror as a genre certainly doesnt describe the kind of films i like that usually get classified as such. I guess the average video nasty/slasher/ gore film is Horror, since they strive to be “horrific”.
    Im more interested in the surreal, dreamlike, eerie, spooky, in texture and imagery , rather than plot or characterisation.Onieric certainly sums it up.

  13. That’s an interesting classification. It covers a lot of ground though. Off the top of my head, I would nominate Don’t Look Now, Mullholand Drive, Pan’s Labyrinth, Performance, Spirit Of The Beehive, Picnic At Hanging Rock and most of Kenneth Anger’s career (particularly Lucifer Rising I suppose).

    PS: While the vampire craze is getting quite tiresome, I wish someone in Hollywood or the BBC would get hold of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula stuff. True Blood is fun but I can’t take any more of this Twilight rubbish.

  14. I think I’d want to limit the definition to films whose content is at least 50% dreamlike scenes, maybe more. On that score I don’t think fine works such as Don’t Look Now or Picnic at Hanging Rock would qualify since much of their running time is conventional dramatic business with back and forth dialogue, and so on. Most of Kenneth Anger’s work would qualify, of course.

    I used to hope the BBC might do a serious period adaptation of The War of the Worlds since they were so good at costume dramas. In the 1970s they made a superb TV version of Dracula with Louis Jordan as the Count, still the most faithful screen version despite the claims of Francis Coppola. Unfortunately the days when TV people could deal with generic material without getting hysterical or silly seem to be over. Since Doctor Who has been revived as an all-running-around-with-things-exploding CGI-fest any adaptation would be given the usual steroid boost that writers and producers seem to think these things require lest the audience’s attention wanders for a minute and they change channels. But I digress… Aside from HBO, I’ve given up on TV as a medium for worthwhile drama so there’s little point worrying about what it may or may not do.

  15. It would be hard to define what “dreamlike” is – the river scene in Night of the Hunter, for example , is very dreamlike, but isnt actually a dream. I always think of the last man on earth (the original of I am legend) as being dreamlike, with its De Chirico shadows and strange nightmarish logic. I guess like most things it would be down to personal interpretation.
    My candidates would be the aforementioned Rollin, a whole host of film noir, most if not all expressionist cinema,anything made by the original surrealists,Anger (of course), Maya Deren, Dreams Money Can Buy, Jess Franco occasionally ( especially Orloff Against The Invisible Man), the Blind Dead series, Eraserhead,Cocteau, Dementia (1955) , Carnival Of Souls, Discreet Charm Of The Bourgoise, Guy Maddin……..probably way more if my dvd collection wasnt all piled up awaiting reshelving.

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