Release Date: 1981
Despite being in ‘In a Glass Darkly’, the volume by J Sheridan Le Fanu that contained Carmilla, the story ‘The Room in the Dragon Volant’ was not a tale of the supernatural and only mentioned the word vampire once, when dismissing peasant superstitions generally.
This adaptation of the story, however, does have a vampiric undercurrent. It is no spoiler to say that there isn’t a vampire in the film, what it contains is a belief in vampires and an exploitation of that belief.
It begins in 1793 during the French Revolution and one Count St. Alyre (Curd Jürgens) is locked in the Bastille. A guard enters and informs him he has a visitor, a priest come to offer him the last rites before he goes to the guillotine. The priest, however, passes him a bottle containing what St. Alyre describes as the Sleep of Death. Once alone he takes the concoction and the guards rush in to find him dead.
|Robert and Sean|
|Patrick Magee as the Marquis|
|suffering the sleep of death|
|brandishing a stake|
The acting seemed good enough throughout this and I liked the use (by the filmmakers) and abuse (by the characters) of some of the traditional lore. There was a decent atmosphere generated but the film did take a while to get to the point and meandered along before then. The vhs print I watched was a little too dark in places and the film could do with a digital clean up and DVD release. 5.5 out of 10.
My thanks to Suzi who put me on to this film.
The imdb page is here.
Sleep of Death on Amazon US