JEAN ROLLIN (1938-2010)
Jean Rollin was an actor, novelist. and French film director responsible for some of the more unique (and erotic) vampire films ever made. His horror films all had an art house quality, and always had a gothic look and feel (primarily due to his locations, which were usually beautiful castles and vast outside shots of the French countryside). He also helped the gorgeous actress Brigitte Lahaie find a legion of fans, and created the first French zombie film, THE GRAPES OF DEATH. Rollin also directed dramas and porn, but was best known for his horror films which continue to reach new generations of fans, primarily thanks to REDEMPTION video's deluxe DVDs of his work.
Here's a quick look at my 3 favorite Rollin films, each one worthy of any horror fan's time.
REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE (1971). First seen on American shores in the early 80s on Harry Novack's "Frightful Flicks" VHS series under the silly (and heavily edited) title, CAGED VIRGINS, this tale of two female fugitives seeking shelter at a castle that happens to be the home of a vampire cult features some great-looking scenes, including dungeons that could give anyone the creeps, amazing dusk-shot footage, and one disturbing shot of a vampire bat feeding on a captive's menstrual blood. Ground breaking and unforgettable.
REQUIEM's obscure opening chase sequence.
One of the countless, eye-catching scenes from REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE.
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1978's THE GRAPES OF DEATH (a.k.a. LE RAISINS DE LA MORT) features zombies spawned by pesticides used to protect a wine-making community. This is not an apocalyptic film, although the zombie outbreak does infect a small farming village somewhere in the French country side. There's plenty of Rollin's trademark gore scenes (one lady's decapitation while nailed to a door is still quite effective) and a tense sequence aboard a train makes this one of the director's more memorable films. And of course the lovely Brigette Lahaie is on hand to flash her bod to the undead!
Rollin was a master of combining horror and beauty...Lahaie (in white dress) observes the coming zombie assault in THE GRAPES OF DEATH.
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While ALIEN and DAWN OF THE DEAD assaulted audiences across America (and much of Europe), Jean Rollin's 1979 erotic lesbian vampire epic FASCINATION was released in France. Like REQUIEM, FASCINATION doubles as an art house film, with endless sequences that combine horror, eroticism, and wonderfully-filmed sequences on some of the best (and creepiest) looking sets Rollin ever used. Brigette Lahaie and Franca Mai were two of the prettiest vampires ever to grace the screen, and make this one a total joy to watch. One scene of Lahaie (in nothing but a black cape and a scythe) killing a potential convert must've looked incredible on the big screen, but until a revival comes to your town you'll have to settle for the DVD.
You DON'T mess with Lahaie and Mai!
Brigitte Lahaie in one of Rollin's most iconic sequences (from FASCINATION)
She slays me (sorry---had to say it).
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THE HORROR FILMS OF JEAN ROLLIN:
THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE (1968)
THE SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES (1970)
REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE (1971)
BACCHANALES SEXUELLES (1973)
THE DEMONIACS (1974)
LIPS OF BLOOD (1975)
THE GRAPES OF DEATH (1978)
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTED (1980)
THE LIVING DEAD GIRL (1982)
THE SIDEWALKS OF BANGCOCK (1984)
TWO ORPHAN VAMPIRES (1997)
FIANCEE' OF DRACULA (2002)
Jean Rollin departed this world on December 15, 2010