Ladies of the Night (Les Vampyres)
By Sophie DuChien
Nightfall. A young woman, frightened, makes her way along a deserted European street. She feels pursued by something she can’t see. Fade to black.
She awakens in a candlelit mansion, the prey of vampires -- two beautiful, dangerous creatures of the night. They toy with her, teasing, tormenting, seducing her until she submits to their will, and then she is taken to their dungeon for more refined tortures that end in the sampling of her virgin blood.
That’s the basic plot of Ladies of the Night, a new 30-minute surreal fetish experience from Maria Beatty, one of the most interesting and inventive of today’s adult filmmakers. Beatty’s style in this and the previous The Black Glove, released in 1996, is an erotic silent-film feeling, which is heightened by effective use of sound as a mood element.
What makes Beatty (and collaborator R. Pettet) different is her ability to create an exquisitely distinctive, expressionistically gothic, black-and-white excursion into dominance and submission, bondage and discipline, pain and pleasure. Beatty is a master at creating erotic tension.
The difference between these two short films is largely in the overtones and what I have to call "othertones." Ladies of the Night is a lesbian experience. The Black Glove dabbles more overtly in foot fetishism, hot wax and the interstitial between genders, switching focus between a beautiful woman and a TV known as Sabrina.
Both videos are arresting experiences, as unlike LA porn as, say, the work of surrealist photographer Man Ray is from Penthouse Pets. They are hot, arty, kinky and probably not for everybody; there is a lot more tension than resolution. Yet better than any other film maker we’ve seen Beatty transports the viewer to a decadent place, vaguely Weimar, vaguely New York after dark, vaguely fetish vampire dream.
And I, for, one like going on the trip.
The Black Glove, directed by Maria Beatty. Starring Maria Beatty, Mistress Morgana and Sabrina. Music by John Zorn. (Outspoken! Productions, 1996. www.bleuproductions.com 30 minutes, b& w. $39.95)
Ladies of the Night (Les Vampyres) directed by Maria Beatty and R. Pettet, edited by Maria Beatty. Starring Mistress Dakota, Mistress Tchera, and Bleu. Music by Nick Holmes (Bleu productions, 2000. www.bleuproductions.com 32 min b& w. $39.95)