Even as a fan of Matthew Saliba and his very gorgeous short films, I was very taken aback by his newest film, a remake of the Jess Franco classic “Vampyros Lesbos.” While the film isn’t particularly the best vampire film I’ve ever seen, it’s still one of the best examples of Franco’s sensibility towards women and homosexuality.
Saliba thankfully keeps all of the thick homophobic undertones while also telling his own unique perspective of the Franco film through photographer Mario Carangi’s gallery of incredible still photographs that tell more of a story than most short films I’ve seen. Saliba has slowly built his ambitious repertoire with tales or revenge and blood shed and I think this remake is a wonderful example of the man’s ability to tell such a blatantly hateful tale in such a short format through stunning still photos.
Following the original story beat for beat, “Vampyros Lesbos” is the tale of young Sophie (the beautiful Isabelle Stephen) who is taken to a burlesque club with her husband and is hopelessly enticed by awe inspiring beauty Countess Nadine (played with raw sex appeal by Kitty Daly) who seduces, kidnaps, and converts the young woman ravaging her. Saliba enhances much of the phallic symbols and takes the reins as the destroyed husband who feels he has to bring his wife back from the clutches of this woman or kill her trying.
Saliba pays homage to Franco’s tale by demonizing homosexuality and sexual discovery through the device of vampirism while also keeping true to Franco’s view of lesbianism as a disease or crime. “Vampyros Lesbos” is originally told as a story of a woman who commits the ultimate act against nature, and must be stopped because of it, and Saliba sticks to that recurring theme as Sophie’s husband becomes an unlikely villain ruining his wife’s otherwise blissful new state. With one last final punch in the gut through a brilliantly angled shot, Saliba adds yet another superb short to his growing film gallery. It’s a perfect companion to Franco’s original film.