Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Look at the new Jean Rollin Blu-rays

For months now many of us have been wondering if the newly remastered releases of The Nude Vampire, Shiver of the Vampires, The Iron Rose, Lips of Blood and Fascination from Kino Lorber and Redemption would be worth the wait. This past week we all breathed a great sigh of relief when we found out the answer was a resounding YES! These five key-works from Rollin have never looked or sounded better and the amount of coverage they have been getting has been nothing short of astounding (who would have ever thought a publication like The New York Times would have been celebrating the work of Jean Rollin?). I have written on these five films in detail before so I am just going to discuss the technical aspects of the discs and the extras. For those interested in reading my thoughts on the films themselves you can click on the links below (or pick up the new issue of Rue Morgue where I write on each). Needless to say, these are five of Jean Rollin's best films and I can only say that I am jealous of newcomers who get to be introduced to his work via such gorgeous transfers (it's a long-way off from the VSOM tapes that I found Rollin through in the nineties).

The Nude Vampire: As far as upgrades go, the new disc for The Nude Vampire is the most startling of the bunch. Redemption's old disc looked positively dreadful with its washed-out blurry mess of a transfer. The Nude Vampire is positively dazzling looking on this new disc with its eye-popping color photography finally looking as vibrant as we always knew it should. The print is clean throughout, with just some occasional and very slight print damage, and Redemption's new disc brings out an amazing amount of depth and clarity to Rollin's unforgettable images (I felt like I could reach out and touch both The Castel Twins). Watching this disc was like seeing The Nude Vampire for the very first-time again. On the sound-side I had no issues and the addition of the English-language dub, along with the original French-Language track, was very welcome.
Extras include a brief two-minute introduction from Rollin and a terrific twenty minute talk with Rollin filmed by his assistant Daniel Gouyette. The chat is informative, and quite moving, and stands as one of the best interviews with our much-missed man I have ever seen. Natalie Perrey is also on hand for a short, but valuable, discussion. A handful of trailers round out the disc's supplements.

The Shiver of the Vampires: Up next is a film that already been featured as great presentation via The Encore Box-set, so the fact that this new Blu-ray improves on that already great collection is most welcome news. Again, the colors are unbelievably vibrant here (Jean-Jacques Renon would be very proud) and the film just has a more textured and effervescant look about it. I would actually say that The Thrill of the Vampires disc is the most surprising of this first batch, as I wasn't expecting that big of an upgrade from Encore's terrific set. Again an English-language dub is included in addition to the French-language track.
The Encore edition does easily trump the new Blu-ray as far as extras go but both the introduction by Rollin and especially the near forty-minute discussion between Rollin and Dr. Patricia MacCormack are terrific new extras to have.

The Iron Rose: My favorite Jean Rollin films gets a most welcome visual upgrade via this new Redemption disc and, again, it simply blows their older poor-quality transfer out of the water. Some have noted already that this transfer is notably darker but it is also considerably sharper and, truth be told, the new darker visual-scheme only adds to the film's already bewitching allure. You can tell a lot of hard work went into making The Iron Rose look and sound as great as possible and there is simply no comparison with the older versions of this. Again, the English language dub is included along with the (preferred) French track.
Redemption has gathered together some great extras for The Iron Rose including another introduction by Rollin and a longer interview with Perrey plus another batch of trailers. The best supplement is a twenty-minute plus talk with the charming Francoise Pascal, whose memories of Rollin are both fresh and moving. Pascal even mentions my blog at the end which, I must admit, almost brought me to tears.

Lips of Blood: Of all of the new transfers, the one that gets the least upgrade (at least compared to the Encore Box-set) is Lips of Blood. The film already looked gorgeous via the Encore set, as does this new Blu-ray but I didn't notice a huge difference, outside of a generally sharper look and a cleaner print. That said, Redemption's new disc does correct the framing issue present on the Encore disc and the issue with the end-credits has been corrected. Unlike the other discs, an English-language track is not available.
Extras are light on Lips of Blood with only a fascinating ten-minute interview with Perrey and short introduction by Rollin (along with the trailers again) on-hand. Lips of Blood is probably the least-essential of the new discs (if you have the Encore version) but it is still a terrific release of a masterful film.

Fascination: Along with The Nude Vampire, Fascination needed the biggest upgrade(due to Redemption's disappointing older release) and boy does it get it here. Rollin's gorgeous film has never looked more beautiful and rich. The print is clean throughout (save for some expected speckles and minor-scratches) and Brigitte Lahaie looks like she could climb right out of the TV (which I don't think anyone would complain about). Fascination has never looked anywhere near this good and this new Redemption release is easily the definitive version of this haunting film. Again, like Lips of Blood, only the French-language track is available.
The extras presented for Fascination are a bit different than the other releases. No new interviews are found but we do get two longer, and more explicit, sex-scenes Rollin shot for a proposed harder version of the film and a terrific looking remastered version of the great Eurotika program Virgins and Vampires, an indispensable look at Rollin's films that has never looked better.

In closing, I highly recommend all five of these truly great releases. The transfers are incredible (and the booklet with each by Tim Lucas is very valuable) and the amount of hard-work and time Kino and Redemption put into these is worthy of applause. Our man is finally in the best of hands and I can't wait for the next batch of films!



MondoHeather said...

Awesome article and boy howdy, do I covet this releases! It's nice to see a filmmaker like Rollin and his work get some lovely and just treatment.

night person said...

I purchased all 5 titles. Of them, I have thus far screened FASCINATION and THE NUDE VAMPIRE. THE NUDE VAMPIRE is a major revelation visually. This has long been a favorite Rollin title of mine and now on Blu Ray it is even more so. The use of color in this film is simply stunning. It is also a fine example, a reminder really, that one of Rollin's many gifts was his eye for locations and the unique use of them. I cannot wait for REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE and NIGHT OF THE HUNTED! I also hope that FInders Keepers will soon release the soundtrack for THE NUDE VAMPIRE. I had forgotten how free that score is!

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks so much to you both! These releases are so exciting and I already can't wait for the next batch!

brugeslamorte said...

I still have my VSOM tapes. Terrible quality, but I just can't seem to toss them as they were my first introduction to Rollin's films. I have ordered the Kino Blu-rays and look forward to their arrival. I hope these sell well enough to encourage Kino to release other Rollin films. Many thanks to Jeremy for this wonderful blog and also the Sylvia Kristel site!

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks so much for the very nice comments on this site and my Sylvia blog! I really appreciate it.

pewsterbaby said...

The Iron Rose is my favorite Rollin as well. And the lead actress mentioning your blog is a huge accomplishment. You deserve the accolades. I feel so alone with my Rollin obsession and you lend such credibility to my passion.