The newest batch of DVDs and Blu-Rays from Kino Lorber and Redemption hit stores this week (May 29th) and I am happy to report that all three are absolutely exceptional releases. I have written my thoughts on The Rape of the Vampire, Requiem for a Vampire and The Demoniacs on numerous occasions, so I will just be posting on how these new discs look and sound here as well as offering up some thoughts on the numerous extras. Since all three of these titles were available as part of Encore's incredible box-set collections the big question I am sure most hardcore Rollin fans will have is are these new discs worth the upgrade and I can absolutely answer yes, especially in the case of The Rape of the Vampire and Requiem for a Vampire.
The Rape of the Vampire: Rollin's first film has never looked that good on home video, even Encore's print suffered from a number of issues, so seeing the film so lovingly restored on Redemption's new disc is a real pleasure. Rollin's confrontational black and white debut can now finally be enjoyed via an incredibly vibrant and sharp looking print mastered from the original 35mm negative. Image and detail are sharp throughout and, some minor-print damage aside, The Rape of the Vampire has never looked more glorious or seemed more relevant.
The original French-language soundtrack (presented with optional English subs) is also consistently strong, although some small occasional issues due to the original low-budget production remain. The inventive score from Yves Geraud and Francois Tusques is presented really particularly well on the disc allowing viewers to appreciate just how strong it is.
Extras on the Encore collection included an audio commentary from Rollin and interviews with Jacqueline Seiger, Alain Yves Beaujour and Francoise Tusques. Sadly none of these are available on Redemption's new disc, but some splendid new supplements have been made exclusively for this release including a weighty documentary on the making of the film by Daniel Gouyette (which features informative and moving interviews with Rollin, Jean-Denis Bonan and Jean-Pierre Bouyxou) a video introduction by Rollin, an interview with Jean-Loup Philippe and an alternate (clothed) version of a scene. Rollin's excellent two early short-films Les Amours Jaunes and Les Pays Loin are also on the discs and a wonderful essay by Tim Lucas is featured in the extra 16 page booklet (this is also a part of the other two discs as well).
While the missing extras from the Encore release will make fans wanting to hold onto that version, this edition of The Rape of the Vampire is without question the most essential one and is highly recommended.
Requiem for a Vampire: A framing issue hurt Encore's otherwise splendid edition of Requiem for a Vampire, which contained a Rollin commentary, some alternate scenes and interviews with Louise Dhour and Paul Bisciglia. This new version corrects the framing problem (presenting the film in its correct 1.66:1 aspect ratio) and offers up a additional interviews with Rollin, Natalie Perrey and Jean-Noel Delamarre. The Dhour interview is ported over from the Encore set, although the commentary track is not.
You'll feel like Pony Castel and Mirielle d'Argent are in the room with you while watching Redemptions new disc. Requiem for a Vampire has never been more intoxicating than in this spellbinding new print that brings out Renan Polles brilliant photography tremendously well. Rollin's film has never felt moodier or quite as dazzling as it does with this new disc. I am jealous of newcomers who will get to experience it this way for the first time (it's a far cry from my first experience 15 plus years ago with Something Weird Video's Caged Virgins VHS cut).
Redemption have offered up two-audio tracks (original French and English dub) and both mono mixes sound as good as they can. Pierre Raph's essential score is balanced well with the spare dialogue and has never sounded better.
While the supplements aren't as exhaustive as some of Redemptions other new Rollin discs, the picture quality of this Requiem for a Vampire make it instantly the go-to disc for this mesmerizing title.
The Demoniacs: Of the three new releases in The Cinema of Jean Rollin collection, I would say the least revelatory is the new disc of The Demoniacs (simply due to the fact that the film looked so splendid via Encore's box-set). Redemptions new BD does offer up some additional detail and Jean-Jacques Renon's stunning photgraphy has a renewed clarity that is quite breathtaking.
Encore's set was among the lightest, extras-wise, of their collection with only a commentary by Rollin, some deleted scenes and an interview with the great Willy Braque on hand. Redemption's new disc is, again, missing the Rollin commentary (and Braque's chat is gone as well) but a number of new extras are here including additional deleted footage, two cut sex-scenes and interviews with Rollin, Jean Bouyxou and the much-missed Perrey.
This new disc for The Demoniacs probably sounds the best of the new releases with the mono-French track (again with optional English subs) sounding quite clean and balanced.
The Demoniacs is being presented as an Unrated Extended Cut. Being included, for the first time, is a brief bit of dialogue and an extended sequence of the stunning Joelle Coeur ravaging herself on the beach at the end of the film (these extra bits do not included the explicit closeups offered as an extra on the encore disc).
While the new disc of The Demoniacs is not quite as eye-opening as The Rape of the Vampire and Requiem for a Vampire it is still an essential release and a no-brainer purchase for Rollin fans, especially those that don't have Encore's set.
Thanks to Kino-Lorber and Redemption for continuing their amazing The Cinema of Jean Rollin collection. Be sure to buy these releases and continue to show your support. The next collections are due in late August...the titles, The Living Dead Girl and Two Orphan Vampires!