Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Notes on the Theatrical Screenings of Le Viol Du Vampire



(One of several images of the initial theatrical showings of Le Viol Du Vampire available on the supplements of Encores beautiful box set).

To say that the initial theatrical showing of The Rape of the Vampire caused a scandal in France is a major understatement. Released in 1968, one of the most turbulent years in the countries history, at the height of the most ferocious student riots and around the time of the infamous closing of Henri Langlois' famed Cinematheque Francaise, Le Viol Du Vampire was either looked upon as an ultimate act of revolution or a total disgrace. I thought gathering a few key quotes on these initial engagements from some essential Rollin sources would help put the film in perspective.

"We organized a premire in the film theater of the Musee de l'homme. A big crowd gathered and more than a hundred persons had to stay outside. The screening enduced nothing but bursts of of laughter from the audience."
-Jean Rollin, Le Viol du Vampire Encore Booklet-

"The lights go down and the opening credits roll. Le Viol du Vampire...someone in the cinema laughs out loud. Someone tells them to shut up. More voices. More comments."
-Cathal Tohill, Pete Tombs, Immoral Tales-

"Hidden in the projection room, I was suffering in silence and feeling very hurt."
-Jean Rollin, Le Viol du Vampire Encore Booklet-

"There was a huge scandal, which hasn't been forgotten...After that film came out I was stunned by the hostile, even aggressive response, which followed me for years no matter what I did."
-Jean Rollin, Virgins and Vampires-

"Suddenly the door to the auditorium flies open. Lights flood in, drowning the black and white images on the screen. There's a whiff of something acrid. Tear gas."
-Cathal Tohill, Pete Tombs, Immoral Tales-

"Because it was May 1968, a time of free spirits and audacity, I believed that something this crazy would be seen in a favorable light...the reverse happened."
-Jean Rollin, Virgins and Vampires-

"Then the noise of Police sirens and the clatter of stones deflected off shields...Le Viol du Vampire was one of only two new films that opened that week in Paris. Audiences flocked to see it. The spirit of insurrection was in the air. People were looking for something new and startling...they certainly found it."
-Cathal Tohill, Pete Tombs, Immoral Tales-

"The film was released in four cinemas...it was a huge scandal...people were hissing, roaring that they had been made a fool of."
-Jean Rollin, Le Viol du Vampire Encore Booklet-

"Not sure whether to laugh, scream, or ask for their money back, the crowd howled out their disapproval. And it wasn't just vocal: shoes, fruit and empty cans all found their way towards the screen...and before three weeks were out, more than forty five thousand people had been to join the riot."
-Cathal Tohill, Pete Tombs, Immoral Tales-

"Some members of the audience waited for me the whole evening just to give me a hammering. I was astounded by such reactions."
-Jean Rollin, Le Viol du Vampire Encore Booklet-

"All the newspapers sent reviewers to see the film. They all hated it. The effects on Rollin's subsequent career were long lasting...the events of May 68 cast a long shadow, and it was many years before sympathetic viewers began to latch on to what Rollin was really trying to do."
-Cathal Tohill, Pete Tombs, Immoral Tales-

"Honestly I don't care (about the stereotyping as a director of erotic vampire films). Some people Say I'm a genius, other consider me the greatest moron who ever stepped behind a camera."
-Jean Rollin to Peter Blumenstock in Video Watchdog #31 and Virgins and Vampires-

4 comments:

The King Of Cool said...

1968 was definitely a turbulent year in France. It's interesting to read all these different statements about the film.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith...I thought it would help put the film in context.

Steve Langton said...

Very interesting to read those comments. Fear, loathing and a general inability to get Rollin's unique style of filmmaking would account for the reactions of the majority, along with the civil unrest at the time. I guess most of his films would have garnered pretty much the same reaction at the time.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Steve,
I agree with you and appreciate you taking the time to comment.