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The Cinema of Jean Rollin (13 Blu-ray Bundle)

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Director : Jean Rollin
Starring: Bernard Letrou, Jacqueline Sieger, Jean-Loup Philippe, Solange Pradel
Composer s : François Tusques, Yves Géraud
Country : France
Genre s : Avant Garde, Blu-ray, Cult, Horror, Redemption Films
Type: B&W
Year: 1968
Language: French with optional English subtitles
Length: 95
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

SYNOPSIS

Revered by enthusiasts of fantasy and horror films, but largely overlooked by the critical mainstream, French filmmaker Jean Rollin (1938-2010) is finally being given the recognition he deserves. His surreal, dreamlike films are grounded in traditional gothic imagery but are flavored with 1970s-era eroticism, resulting in a body of work that is as eerie as it is outrageous. Though constrained by low budgets, Rollin managed to drench his films in atmosphere and used them as unvarnished expressions of his own personal fears and desires. As Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog has written, Rollin’s films represent “the very heart and soul of ‘le fantastique’-”its flamboyance, its melodrama, its sense of the impossible made possible. They do not scare us; they were designed to delight us, to arouse our imagination, to move us.”

For the first time, the films have been carefully mastered in HD from the original 35mm negatives and will be released with an array of special features, including interviews with Rollin and his collaborators, documentaries, and trailers.

REVIEWS

"Like nothing else in the horror genre." - Tim Lucas, Editor of VIDEO WATCHDOG

Films

The Rape of the Vampire

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1968
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles
  • Description:
A psychiatrist (Bernard Letrou) ventures to a remote castle to convince a brood of four vampire sisters that they are misguided, brainwashed by superstitious villagers, and not truly creatures of the Supernatural. See more.

A psychiatrist (Bernard Letrou) ventures to a remote castle to convince a brood of four vampire sisters that they are misguided, brainwashed by superstitious villagers, and not truly creatures of the Supernatural. The villagers (including director Jean Rollin) confuse and abuse the sisters, before finally storming the castle. The cast descends on a hospital run by a young doctor (Jean-Loup Philippe), charged by the Queen of the Vampires (Jacqueline Sieger) to discover a cure for vampirism. The bewildering action culminates in a "blood wedding" presided over by Sieger, in her regal hot pants, on the legendary stage of the now-defunct théâtre du Grand Guignol.

The shoot was anything but professional. Everyone on the crew was making their first film. All copies of the script managed to get lost within two days, which quickly forced production into improvisation mode. Rollin opted to let the film become what it wanted to become. It was in the spirit of the times to experiment. The resulting film, THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE (Le Viol du Vampire), is a glorious puzzlement, like nothing else in the horror genre.

(excerpt of the essay by Tim Lucas) Hide this content.

The Nude Vampire

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1970
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles or English dubbed
  • Description:
A surreal blend of horror, espionage, and erotica, THE NUDE VAMPIRE follows the son of a wealthy businessman as he is lured into a secret cult that is conducting experiments on a mute vampire woman being held in captivity. See more.

Wealthy industrialist Georges Radamante (Maurice Lemaitre) has dreams of immortality. Not through his own achievements, but by finding a way to share the biochemistry of the mute, orphaned vampire woman (Catherine Cartier) who has been raised by hooded needle-stickers in isolation, deprived of exposure to human faces. Radamante's son Pierre (Olivier Martin, Rollin's real-life brother) innocently complicates matters while trying to infiltrate his father's private club. It is love at first sight and Pierre determines to liberate his beloved, a goal which attracts the companionship of other vampires, who plan a torch-carrying siege of Radamante's palatial compound.

Rollin's first color film and his first collaboration with director of photography Jean-Jacques Renon, THE NUDE VAMPIRE (La Vampire nue) is a curiously science fiction-tinged story in the then-fashionable style of Jean-Claude Forrest (Barbarella) and Metal hurlant artists Jean "Moebius" Giraud and Philippe Druillet, who was in fact recruited to design the film's poster.

(excerpt of the essay by Tim Lucas) Hide this content.

The Shiver of the Vampires

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1971
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles or English dubbed
  • Description:
When a honeymooning couple visit the crumbling estate of the bride’s ancestors, they discover her closet is filled with more than skeletons: a sinister lesbian vampire, a pair of nubile handmaidens, and two vampire hunters who have been recruited into the ranks of the undead. See more.

THE SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES (Le frisson des vampires) is a most unorthodox vampire film; by turns, it is magical, eccentric, poetical, erotic, philosophical and, whenever the vampire cousins are onscreen together, surprisingly funny. It is also unique among vampire films for offering some sort of backstory of warring paganism and Christianity that explains why a vampire would feel revulsion for the sight of a crucifix.

Of all Rollin's films, SHIVER is also the most visually inventive, furnished with bizarre bric-a-brac and with each of the castle's rooms denoted by a different color, possibly in homage to Roger Corman's The Masque of the Red Death.

The film teems with startling images included almost for their own sake, such as Sandra Julien visiting a cemetery in her bridal gown and moving amongst the headstones like a ghost, or the contrast between her white gown and the widow's weeds worn by Isabelle (Nicole Nancel). The vampire Isolde (Dominique) is also a striking character, always manifest at the stroke of midnight to emerge in a startling variety of ways: rising from a well, coming down the chimney like Santa Claus, or, in one of Rollin's most celebrated scenes, popping out of the works of a grandfather clock.

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The Iron Rose

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1973
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles or English dubbed
  • Description:
Two lovers have a tryst in a vacant tomb, only to find themselves trapped within the graves and crypts of the massive cemetery. One of cult director Jean Rollin’s most unconventional films, THE IRON ROSE vividly depicts the young couple’s steady descent into madness. See more.

THE IRON ROSE is a haunting experience - a macabre tone poem about youth and age, love and nihilism, nostalgia and superstition, and, above all, life and death. Francoise Pascal (There's a Girl in My Soup) and Hugues Quester (Three Colors: Blue) go on a metaphysical, Orpheus-like journey inside an ancient, all-but-abandoned graveyard but, as night falls, they cannot find their way out. As Quester's nihilism crumbles to impatience and terror, Pascal transfers her disappointed passion for him to the cemetery itself and becomes jubilantly (and dangerously) attuned to its dead. Pascal gives a remarkably intuitive performance, at times so spontaneous in spirit, one cannot imagine how parts of it were ever scripted.

The cemetery itself is analogous to Rollin's love for all things antiquarian, including the old train station and the nearly moribund city of Amiens. If Orson Welles was correct when he estimated that a film could only be considered good to the extent it represented the artist who made it, THE IRON ROSE is Jean Rollin's first authentic masterpiece.

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Requiem for a Vampire

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1973
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles
  • Description:
REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE was Jean Rollin’s favorite of all his films. Because he dredged the scenario from his subconscious, and because it was rushed into its written form so quickly, he felt it was his purest work. See more.

REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE (Requiem pour un vampire) was Jean Rollin’s favorite of all his films. Because he dredged the scenario from his subconscious, and because it was rushed into its written form so quickly (Rollin claimed that he wrote the entire script in only two days), he felt it was his purest work.

True to Rollin’s roots in serials and the Bizarre, the film opens with an action scene already in progress: two women in full clown makeup (Marie-Pierre Castel, Mirielle d’Argent), firing guns at a retaliating car behind them, as a handsome associate mans the steering wheel. This being a Rollin film, we quickly dispense with the man and get on with the general absence of story and the vital accumulation of fetish. Eluding their pursuers, our two clowns continue their never-explained flight on foot, journeying to a cemetery, then a chateau inhabited by “the last of the vampires.”

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The Demoniacs (Unrated Extended Cut)

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1974
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles
  • Description:
A Poe-like study of guilt and revenge, THE DEMONIACS (Les Démoniaques) concerns a band of "wreckers" who rape and murder two young sisters, the survivors (Lieva Lone, Patricia Hermenier) of a ship they have lured into coastal rocks and plundered. See more.

A Poe-like study of guilt and revenge, THE DEMONIACS (Les Démoniaques) concerns a band of "wreckers" who rape and murder two young sisters, the survivors (Lieva Lone, Patricia Hermenier) of a ship they have lured into coastal rocks and plundered. The ghostly sisters haunt the Captain and obtain help from a mysterious clown (Mirielle d'Argent) who leads them to an impressive disused cathedral. There they meet a gnostic priest (Ben Zimet) standing guard over a cell that harbors the Devil himself (Miletic Zivomir), who empowers the angelic girls sexually with the evil necessary to exact their revenge.

If ever one of Rollin's films was presided over by a singular compelling presence, it is that of Jo����¯�¿�½������«lle Coeur, the mysterious auburn-tressed female lead. As Tina the Wrecker, Coeur seems to incarnate the perverse libido, stripping and publicly pleasuring herself while in thrall to the rape and pillage of her gruff associates.

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Lips of Blood

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1975
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles
  • Description:
In the most personal of Jean Rollin's moody, erotic horror films, a man tries to solve the riddle of a vague childhood memory, which leads him in pursuit of a beautiful vampire, and the revelation of a horrible family curse. See more.

LIPS OF BLOOD (Levres de sang) was considered by Jean Rollin to be the best, or most developed, story he ever wrote. Of all his films, it perhaps best transcends his tendencies toward the poetical and arcane, while remaining at the same time true to his most personal, recurring obsessions: childhood, nostalgia, lost love, romantic quests, the cinema, obsolescence. In the course of its telling, it may also touch on such unsavory topics as vampirism and incest, but it would not be an exaggeration to call LIPS OF BLOOD "Jean Rollin's Somewhere in Time."

Jean-Loup Philippe stars as Frederic, a maternally-dominated young man who by chance is awakened to a dormant childhood memory by attending a launch party for a new perfume. A chateau pictured in the poster reminds him of a night, long ago, when he was lost and a beautiful young woman (Jennifer, played by Forever Emanuelle's Annie Belle) came out of nowhere to protect him through the night. Later, the woman - unaged - magically appears and beckons to him, and Frederic finds his way back to the chateau and to her, uncovering some dark secrets about his family's past along the way.

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The Grapes of Death

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1978
  • Language:French w/English subtitles
  • Description:

The polluted wine produced for a village's annual Grape Harvest Festival has left all but a few rabid with some chemically- engendered form of zombiism. They may saunter about like sleepwalkers, but these are not the zombies of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968); they are, rather, oozing transmitters of an impassioned insanity that can only be termed anarchy.

It seems an odd boast to make for one title in a plentiful filmography devoted to vampires, ghosts and other undead, but THE GRAPES OF DEATH (Les Raisins de la mort) is Jean Rollin's most frightening movie. It was never really the goal of his previous films to frighten, and it is the unsettling, progressively chilling quality of GRAPES that makes it unlike anything else in Rollin's poetical canon. Watching it, one is almost surprised that Rollin would--or could--direct a film to such a successfully commercial end, but THE GRAPES OF DEATH unfolds like an ever-expanding nightmare whose noose is drawn all the tighter by the efforts of its young heroine to escape it. - Tim Lucas

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Fascination

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1979
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles
  • Description:
The masterpiece of renowned French filmmaker Jean Rollin, FASCINATION follows a swaggering thief who hides out in a lavish chateau, holding the occupants at gunpoint. When night falls, he discovers that these two maids are in fact the gatekeepers to a ring of bloodthirsty women. See more.

FASCINATION is often described as a vampire film yet, like few other horror films, it is actually about blood fetishism. Set in 1905, the story concerns a group of aristocratic women who acquire more epicurean tastes after drinking ox's blood as a cure for anemia.

Some erotic component was usually imposed on Rollin by meddling producers, forcing him to add ill-fitting sex scenes into his productions, but here - more so than anywhere else in his filmography - the erotic scenes feel truly organic to the story. Due in large part to the sensuality and chemistry of Brigitte Lahaie (a popular Euro porn star in her second legitimate role for Rollin) and Franca Mai (subsequently a singer, producer-director of short films, web mogul and novelist), they are also classically lovely and legitimately erotic.

Playful, elegantly crafted and brimming with some of the most unforgettable images in his filmography, FASCINATION embodies Jean Rollin at his very best - venturing outside his usual comfort zones and extending the definition of his filmic universe in the process.

(excerpt of the essay by Tim Lucas) Hide this content.

The Night of the Hunted

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1980
  • Language:French w/English subtitles
  • Description:
A man driving home late one night nearly hits a beautiful, scantily-clad woman who is running wild in the streets; he takes her back to his apartment, they make love, and he discovers that she has already forgotten where they met. She is rapidly losing her memory, a woman without a past. The amnesiac woman is traced back to a scientific fortress melodramatically known as "The Black Tower," where people suffering memory and identity loss due to accidental nuclear contamination are being held and treated. See more.

A man driving home late one night nearly hits a beautiful, scantily-clad woman who is running wild in the streets; he takes her back to his apartment, they make love, and he discovers that she has already forgotten where they met. She is rapidly losing her memory, a woman without a past. The amnesiac woman is traced back to a scientific fortress melodramatically known as "The Black Tower," where people suffering memory and identity loss due to accidental nuclear contamination are being held and treated.

Although Rollin made the film with absolute freedom within his budget, he was forced to race through with absurd time restraints. As a result, NIGHT OF THE HUNTED (La Nuit des traques) is a compromised film, to be sure, but it is a unique and exceptional chapter in Rollin's filmography. It has a distinctly Cronenbergian feel, that reaches back to Cronenberg's early experimental short films Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970).

The film's powerfully moving finale is, for my money, the single greatest sequence in Rollin's entire body of work. - Tim Lucas

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Zombie Lake

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1980
  • Language:French w/ optional English subtitles
  • Description:
One of the most bizarre films in the living dead craze of the early 1980s, ZOMBIE LAKE feasts without restraint upon the carcasses of a variety of cinematic genres: the WWII picture, the sexploitation film, gore horror, and even the romantic melodrama. See more.

One of the most bizarre films in the living dead craze of the early 1980s, ZOMBIE LAKE feasts without restraint upon the carcasses of a variety of cinematic genres: the WWII picture, the sexploitation film, gore horror, and even the romantic melodrama.

Conceived by one master of erotic horror (Jess Franco) and pseudonymously directed by another (Jean Rollin), ZOMBIE LAKE weaves the tale of a contemporary French village haunted by water-logged Nazis slain by the Resistance. With little regard for narrative subtlety, the film veers from the shamelessly exploitive (as when a women's volleyball team skinny-dips in zombie-infested waters) to the tearfully sentimental (depicting a young orphan girl's psychic connection to one of the walking dead). Beneath its garish surface, however, ZOMBIE LAKE embraces several themes that run throughout Rollin's body of work, showing that this eclectic artist could not help investing even a playful film such as this with his personal sensibilities. Hide this content.

The Living Dead Girl

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1982
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles
  • Description:
Bloodier and more violent than his own tastes preferred, THE LIVING DEAD GIRL forced Rollin to work against the grain in his own preferred genre - and he transformed himself in the process. See more.

THE LIVING DEAD GIRL (La Morte Vivante) is the story of Catherine Valmont (Françoise Blanchard), a wealthy heiress dead before her time, who is accidentally reanimated when some unfortunate movers attempt to store drums of chemical waste in the neglected burial vaults below her uninhabited chateau. Rollin's "living dead girl" does everything that cinematic convention requires - she kills people, drinks human blood, devours human flesh - yet, for all this, we accept her as an innocent. Meanwhile, the effect that her resurrection has upon her childhood friend, Hélène (Marina Pierro), is infinitely more conscious, deliberate, and evil.

Bloodier and more violent than his own tastes preferred, THE LIVING DEAD GIRL forced Rollin to work against the grain in his own preferred genre - and he transformed himself in the process. In the unsettling, bloody finale, Blanchard's performance was so intense, so extreme in its confused appetite, revulsion, and glee, the take was nearly interrupted out of concern for the actress's mental health. It's one of the most emotionally incendiary finales in horror film history.

(excerpt of the essay from Tim Lucas) Hide this content.

Two Orphan Vampires

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  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Country: France
  • Year:1997
  • Language:French with optional English subtitles
  • Description:
TWO ORPHAN VAMPIRES follows two blind girls of unknown origin, raised in an orphanage by two adoring nuns. Little do the nuns know, each night as the sun goes down, their "little angels" acquire night vision, as well as an appetite for blood and teenage mischief. See more.

TWO ORPHAN VAMPIRES (Les Deux Orphelines Vampires) follows Henriette and Louise (Isabelle Teboul and Alexandra Pic), two blind girls of unknown origin, raised in an orphanage by two adoring nuns. Little do the nuns know, each night as the sun goes down, their "little angels" acquire night vision (they "see blue"), as well as an appetite for blood and teenage mischief.

Rollin's entire filmography, more or less, could be summarized as a poetical consideration of death, termination, and unreality, but coming to terms with his own pending death had a way of affecting how he regarded them (the film was undertaken just as he was diagnosed with kidney failure). Something previously conceptual and child-like, nostalgic and precious in Rollin's work becomes more concrete and dimensional, unflinching and adult. When they commit one violent transgression against their kindly benefactor, the scene's abrupt and awkward brutality recalls the best of Henri-Georges Clouzot.

(excerpt of the essay by Tim Lucas) Hide this content.

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