Costume Party is a monthly column exploring fashion, personal style, and historical aesthetics in film.

There’s a distinct pleasure in seeing a respected European actress in a genre film. Some actresses have a sophistication and glamour that elevates even tawdry material. For Halloween, with its inevitable parade of horror films, Costume Party is taking a look at one of cinema’s best subgenres: The Sexy Lesbian Vampire Movie Starring a French Icon. Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kumel, 1971) and The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983) star Delphine Seyrig and Catherine Deneuve, respectively, as dark seductresses of the night who lure innocent women with their fabulous outfits and sultry accents.

Seyrig’s Countess Bathory and Deneuve’s Miriam Blaylock are introduced in a similar fashion: close-ups on red lip become a counterpoint to gothic black outfits. These actresses first appear in glimpses that suggest naughty mystery.

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Both women have a strong 1940s noir influence in their costumes. The black veiled hat is the ultimate power accessory for both The Countess and Miriam. It’s not an easy look to pull off, but these two literal vamps do it with aplomb.

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While neither one is terribly scary, both films revel in erotic spectacle. If you’re a queer vampire you need an elegant robe. The Countess’s is trimmed in purple marabou and wouldn’t look out of place on Marlene Dietrich. She’s consistently languid, which is one of the benefits of being a vampire.

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Miriam wears drapey silk loungewear in her mysterious dark home. Her outfits aren’t as outré as the Countess’s, but are still memorable for their 1980s New Wave neo-noir look.

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In The Hunger’s opening scene, scored to Bauhaus and set at a sultry goth club, Miriam poses in black leather gloves, sunglasses, and a hat. She’s a stylish predator. Of course vampires only go out at night, so they must look the part. The Countess’s most explicitly vampiric outfit involves a long black cape that she fans out like a bat’s wings. She wouldn’t look out of place at a goth club more than ten years later, and one can only imagine the seductive prowess these two characters would unleash if they joined forces.

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The Countess has two showstopping gowns. One of them is red (but of course, the color of blood and passion) with bell sleeves and a tie around the neck. Her lips are also red (the original French title of the film even translates to “red lips”) and so are her nails. While Miriam is undoubtedly stylish, her outfits frequently blend with her dark, erotic surroundings. Miriam is composed and graceful, while The Countess, in dresses that fall to the ground and sparkle with such intensity that they seem almost three-dimensional, is brash, more explicitly a star. No matter which aesthetic the sexy French queer vampire chooses, she’s always out for blood and she’ll succeed in getting it.

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