Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I was first introduced to the remarkable cinematic world of Jean Rollin in the early part of 1996, thanks to a cover story in Issue 31 of Video Watchdog. I was 23 years old. Soon after I discovered the phenomenal book Immoral Tales by Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs, which contains one of the still most fascinating and insightful articles on the work of Rollin ever published.
My first experience actually watching a Jean Rollin film was an unforgettable one, and it set in motion a love affair with his distinctive brand of film making that continues to this day. I was lucky that my first film of Rollin’s was one of his best, the extraordinary Requiem For a Vampire, and even though the version I saw was cut and compromised and titled Caged Versions (yes, this was the Something Weird Video VHS), I was still completely hypnotized and enthralled by Rollin’s style and the way that he photographed and framed his actors...and even more importantly the space around them.
Throughout the mid to late nineties I began seeing more of more of Rollin’s work, mostly in poor quality dupes from companies like VSOM and Video Screams. No matter the quality though, films like Shiver of the Vampires, The Demoniacs, Fascination and The Living Dead Girl blew me away. They were poetic, erotic, audacious and simply unlike anything else I had ever seen.
It wasn’t just the films I fell in love with but also the actors Rollin worked with again and again (including the unforgettable Castel Twins, Joelle Coeur and especially Brigitte Lahaie). I also fell in love with the very idea of Jean Rollin…a filmmaker who refused to compromise or stray from his singular vision no matter how many people and critics he would alienate along the way.
The last few years have been a very good time to be a Rollin fan, first with the Redemption DVDs and then with the amazing Encore box-sets…not to mention the return of Rollin as a filmmaker with such distinguished works a Two Orphan Vampires, Fiancee of Dracula and most recently The Transfigured Night. While Rollin has prospered on the home video market, I have felt that he has remained surprisingly under-represented online which is why I am starting this tribute to him.
So what exactly will this site be? Anyone who is familiar with my Nastassja Kinski site will recognize the format. I will go film by film in chronological order and will be offering my own reviews, articles on figures in front of and behind the camera, occasional outside critical reactions, and other notes related to the works. I will be quoting from the out of print book Virgins and Vampires as well as the exhaustive supplements from the Encore releases to create a commentary track of sorts as well. I will also be making this as visually pleasing as possible with many exclusive screenshots and wallpapers.
What this will not be is a theoretical look at possible various psychological workings of Jean Rollin’s cinema. If this was being offered as a college course it would be listed under the film history category and not film theory…there are other far more astute viewers who can offer these kinds of viewpoints so I won't bother. Honestly, heavy film theory doesn’t interest me much…nor is it something I claim to be any good at. I think approaching these films in the more factual and historical manner I am going to is more than appropriate.
I suspect this will site be a bit slow going as work, school, my personal life and my other writing at Moon in the Gutter and Nostalgia Kinky will continue, but I promise to get through all of Rollin’s major works (and hopefully some of the more hidden pieces). I hope it proves an interesting trip and thanks in advance to the people who will choose to travel along with me. My first post, on Rollin's 1958 short Les Amours Jaunes, will appear soon.