Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Two New Jean Rollin Related Releases

 
Our friends at Finders Keepers Records have just issued Pierre Raph's incredible score to The Iron Rose on vinyl.  Details on ordering can be found here
 
 
Also the Jean Rollin limited edition Bobblehead is now available to pre-order over at Cult Collectibles
 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We are Waiting for You at The Jean Rollin Forum!

 
Just a couple of weeks into my Jean Rollin forum and it has already been a real blast. We are up to about 15 registered members and have had dozens of fun Rollin related chats going. As a little sneak peek to the kind of stuff members have been sharing, here is a detail from the International 3-sheet pressbook from SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES that was posted in our Scrapbook section just earlier today. So, if you love Rollin please stop by, set up an account and send me a members request to access all the forums.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Jean Rollin Message Board is Now Live!

 
I am very happy to announce that my new Jean Rollin Message Board is now active and ready to use.  I will be sending out personal invites soon to all those who expressed interest but for those who want to go ahead and sign up here is the link.  I will be tinkering around with this board quite a bit in the upcoming days so any suggestions are most welcome.  Also, please let me know if you have any specific questions, problems or concerns.  I want this to be a fun community where we can share our love for Jean and his work and I hope many will join up.  So head on over and sign up.  Please be sure to check out the rules and send me a request to join the group so you can access all of the forums. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Coming Soon: The Jean Rollin Forum



Since starting this blog back in 2008 I have met many incredible online friends who share my passion for everything connected to Jean Rollin.  It has been incredible getting to interact with fellow fans, co-workers and friends of Jean and I hope I hear from more and more.  Over the past several years I have had several readers here ask me about possibly starting an online forum dedicated to Rollin and his films.  I have been hesitant due to both time constraints and inexperience but I have decided the time has come for this new chapter for Fascination.  So, coming very soon I will be introducing Fascination:  The Jean Rollin Experience Forum, a message board dedicated to the fantastic world of our main man.  Business as usual will continue here but I do hope this new venture brings out some fellow fans for some fun, meaningful and thoughtful discussions about Jean.  I am working on the board right now and hope to have it set up within the next week.  I will post the link, and information, as soon as it is live.  Thank you to my readers here for their friendship, loyalty and patience!  You are all awesome...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jean Rollin Fans Take Note of Redemption's new A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD disc

While it isn't part of their Jean Rollin line, Redemption's newest Jess Franco release A Virgin Among the Living Dead will be of great interest to Rollin enthusiasts.  This terrific new special edition of one of Franco's most satisfying films includes as an extra the entire Zombiefied cut of A Virgin Among the Living Dead, featuring the footage Rollin shot years after its first release.  This footage was previously only available on its own on disc as an extra and this marks the first time Rollin's 'cut' can be seen its entirety since the Wizard VHS  (In America at least, a friend at Facebook has pointed out that the cut was available on the 2 disc X-Rated Kult DVD set).  The disc also includes two tremendous extras by former Rollin assistant Daniel Gouyette and a great commentary track by Tim Lucas (all of which mention Rollin at various points). 
This new DVD and Blu-ray of A Virgin Among the Living Dead is one of Redemption's best and I know that many readers here will absolutely want to order a copy from Kino, Diabolik or Amazon
In other news, The Escapees has been announced on Redemption's Facebook page as part of the 2014 line-up!  Hopefully that will not be the only new Rollin release but it is a welcome one. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Remembering Françoise Blanchard


I'm sure many reading here are aware that the much beloved and respected Françoise Blanchard passed away on May 29th at the tragically young age of 58.  Blanchard was a remarkable actress and many Jean Rollin fans, myself included, count her work in The Living Dead Girl as one of the finest in all of Rollin's canon.  To pay tribute to Françoise here is the (slightly revised) article I wrote on her career a couple of years back reposted.  My best to her family and friends....she will be greatly missed. 

Intelligent, charming and very talented French actress Françoise Blanchard brought something special to every role she played in a film career that stretched from the late seventies up until the early nineties. Probably best known for her work as the title character in Jean Rollin's savagely haunting The Living Dead Girl (1982), Françoise graced a number of notable films from the period including works by directors Jess Franco and Bruno Mattei.
Recalling her career on Encore's terrific interview on the DVD set for The Living Dead Girl, Françoise mentioned that it was a tragedy and a coincidence that set her career in motion in the late seventies. While trying to make ends meet as a hand model, Françoise lost her beloved brother in the late seventies. Around that time she was offered her first role, coincidentally as someone who had also lost a family member. Françoise approached the part sceptically as she remembered that at the the time she was, "aggressive against people but also a bit confused" due to the death of her brother. She enjoyed the experience though and soon threw herself seriously into acting lessons afterwards.
Her career quickly become intertwined with the legendary Eurocine company and soon she was involved in several B movies from the period. "I liked the feel of these B-Movies, especially Horror" noted Françoise to Encore, which perhaps explains one reason she became so popular to several of the most noteworthy genre directors of the late seventies. She also mentioned she didn't mind nudity and even went so far as to pose for Lui magazine in the early eighties.
After several films, for the likes of directors like Pierre Chevalier, Françoise hit exploitation paydirt with her rather unforgettable role in Bruno Mattei's sleazy but entertaining Caligula and Messalina in 1981. The following year she would appear in Jess Franco's confused but interesting Revenge in the House of Usher, and she liked Franco and admired his creativity and fire.
After another sleaze epic with Matei, Françoise shot the rather wonderful Living Dead Girl with Rollin. Françoise is extremely good in the film and delivers one of the most powerful performances in Rollin's canon. The mostly night shoot was difficult and there were many problems with the special effects but, despite some disagreements, she liked and admired Rollin and admitted to Encore that, "he is really nice and is very much there." Françoise also enjoyed working with and admired her co-star in the film, Italian actress Marina Pierro, and noted, "She was very maternal with me."



Françoise would work again with Rollin on The Sidewalks of Bangkok, a film which she had a lot of fun making, and recently she appeared in his newest production La Nuit des Horloges opposite Ovidie. A talented and lovely lady, Françoise Blanchard's contributions to Jean Rollin's filmography should not be undervalued.

-Jeremy Richey-

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Look at THE GRAPES OF DEATH Blu-ray

Undoubtedly one of the most pivotal films in his entire canon, 1978’s Le Raisins de la Mort (The Grapes of Death), stands as one of the most visceral and flat out entertaining films Jean Rollin ever created. Trading in the poetic nature and sometimes deliberately slow pace of many of his earlier films for a bloody fast paced exercise in terror, The Grapes of Death is quite unlike the typical Jean Rollin film, and yet it stands as one of his most perfect creations, and absolutely the film he needed to deliver in 1978.
The Grapes of Death is, along with Night of the Hunted, the newest addition to Kino Lorber Redemption The Cinema of Jean Rollin line.  This release has been particularly anticipated by Rollin fans due to The Grapes of Death popularity and the Blu-ray doesn't disappoint as it is one of the best of the series so far. 
Boasting an extremely good looking print with vibrant colors and rich dark tones, The Grapes of Death feels even more vibrant and visceral than ever before.  This new disc is, visually, quite a step up from the still fine Synapse disc from a number of years ago and it is well worth the upgrade. 
Rollin called The Grapes of Death his “first traditional, almost conventional, production” in his introduction for the film in Virgins and Vampires. This was due to the fact that the film had, “solid finances” for a change, “special effects by Italian experts” as well as “a complete crew under the guidance of great director of photography Claude Becognee." Rollin would also credit much of the film’s success to star Marie-Georges Pascal, whom he would recall delivered a very “moving” performance in the film. 
Pascal's terrific performance feels even more vital than ever and watching her in High Def one can absolutely recognize that she was one of the great actors Rollin ever got to work with.  The Grapes of Death feels like one of Rollin’s tightest pieces, which makes the director's admission that it was “the first film where I didn’t use a shooting script” all the more surprising. It is a credit then to Rollin and his crew that the film feels so economical and remarkably put together. There is nothing rambling or loose knit about this film. It has a purpose and it achieves it beautifully.
I suspect that The Grapes of Death will be one of The Cinema of Jean Rollin's biggest sellers as it fits in well with our current Zombie crazed culture, even if it is fairly far removed from the likes of The Walking Dead and Resident Evil.  While The Grapes of Death has its foot firmly planted in the Zombie genre, Rollin said that he “wanted to get away from the usual zombie fare” and with the film he does this quite admirably. Centering on madness with a strong environmentally conscious message, Rollin’s zombies “have retained their consciousness” and they finally “suffer because of what they are”, a fact that makes them different from both Romero and Grau’s original works, and later zombie fare by the likes of Fulci and Mattei. 
One of the best things about the new Blu-ray is that, due its darker tones, the gory effects have never played quite so well.  While Rollin has called the gory horror in The Grapes of Death more “intelligent” than "gratuitous”, it is the film’s sometimes-shocking effects that are most often remembered. While they all suffer from a perhaps smaller than needed budget, they still manage a real visceral impact. This is especially true of the show stopping crucifixion and decapitation of pretty Mirella Rancelot that stands as one of the most iconic and unsettling images in all of Rollin’s filmography. It’s the kind of jaw dropping moment that only the best and most pulverizing horror films can deliver. 
The Grapes of Death has a lot more going for it than the effects though. As mentioned the late Marie-Georges Pascal delivers a fine lead turn, as does the legendary Brigitte Lahaie, and the photography of Claude Becognee gives the film a strangely hypnotic and suitably unwell feeling throughout its slim running time. Becognee’s photography and Rollin’s images are also matched well by the eerie electronic score of Philippe Sissman. The supporting cast is a mixed bag, but Rancelot’s blind victim is very well played and seems a clear forerunner to Cinzea Monreale’s unforgettable Emily from Fulci’s The Beyond which was still couple of years down the road.
The Synapse disc is absolutely worth holding onto as it trumps this new version in the way of extras (although the long chat with our much missed Rollin and the Tim Lucas liner notes are both very valuable new extras on the Blu) but otherwise this new disc is the way to go.  While Rollin would have to make a few more Gentil-Xavier productions in the couple of years following The Grapes of Death, the film successfully pulled him out of his artistic slump. A popular success with some critical support, The Grapes of Death has become one of Rollin’s most well liked films. Tim Lucas in Video Watchdog 31, while noting some of the film’s faults, said The Grapes of Death contained “believably chilled performances” and that “Rollin’s uncanny knack for finding picturesque locations” helped “to convey the film’s atmosphere of imminent apocalypse.” Shane M. Dallmann would grant the film an excellent review later in Video Watchdog 89 where he called The Grapes of Death “a strong, solid” entry in the zombie genre. Dallman’s review of the film is one of the best written and fans of the work should definitely search it out. 
-Jeremy Richey, 2013 with elements taken from my original 2009 post on The Grapes of Death-

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jess Franco R.I.P.

 
While Jean Rollin and Jess Franco reportedly only met once, during a chance meeting in the Eurocine offices, the two great mavericks were unified in just how uncompromising and distinctive their utterly unique cinematic visions were.  I think I speak for almost of all Jean Rollin fans when I say we love and will always miss you Jess. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A look at the new Jeunes Filles Impudiques (Schoolgirl Hitchhikers) Blu-ray

 
Jeunes Filles Impudiques, the newest addition to Kino Lorber's The Cinema of Jean Rollin collection, is now out via Blu-ray via Salvation's Jezebel line under its English language title Schoolgirl Hitchhikers.  The first 'Michel Gentil' production, Jeunes Filles Impudiques began to take shape while Rollin was shooting Requiem for a Vampire. Rollin recalled to Peter Blumenstock in Virgins and Vampires and Video Watchdog that producer, "Lionel (Wallmann) obliged me to put some sex scenes in Requiem-during the dungeon sequence. I told him that I wasn't too fond of that kind of thing, and he answered, "But you do that kind of thing very well. If we made an entire film like that, I bet it would be successful. You may not like it, but you know how to do it." Rollin continued with, 'Okay, I'll do it, but I won't invest any of my own money into it.' Well he raised the money, we made the film and he was right." Hence, the first Michel Gentil film was born and shooting commenced right after Requiem wrapped.
 
 
Jeunes Filles Impudiques, as many of you know, has had a frustrating run on home video.  It originally appeared on DVD on the public domain Grindhouse Collection several years ago via a severely cut and battered English language dub that was sourced from the obscure VHS copy pictured above.  Many Rollin fans rejoiced a couple of years back when Jezebel announced the film's first official DVD release but that disc turned out to be an absolute disaster and featured a smeary overly digitized print of the film that rendered it all but unwatchable. 
 
 
 
So the big question is does the new Blu-ray finally do Jeunes Filles Impudiques justice? 
For the most part the answer is yes as the new Blu-ray of Jeunes Filles Impudiques repairs most of the issues found on the older releases.  The film is now presented completely uncut and the original French language track (with optional English language subs) is thankfully finally included.  Jeunes Filles Impudiques also looks like an actual film again via this new release and not like some sort of cheap experimental digital production.  While many will lament the many scratches and specs found on this new release (that was captured from the original negative), I found this untouched look incredibly refreshing and the film has never looked quite as vibrant and colorful. 
 
The only real disappointment with the new disc of Jeunes Filles Impudiques is perhaps an unavoidable one as the occasional slight jitter in the first half of the film is still apparent due to an original camera malfunction.  So unless an expensive major restoration (something that is not very likely for this film) happens this is probably about the most 'perfect' release of Jeunes Filles Impudiques we will have. 
 
Jeunes Filles Impudiques is an admittedly slight film. It looks to only really operate as a soft core sex film and it does so quite well. Seasoned Rollin fans though will notice that this is still very much a 'Jean Rollin picture'. The opening images of our two lead female characters walking alone and stumbling on a seemingly abandoned mansion will immediately remind fans of some of Rollin's most iconic work (including the masterful film he had just completed) as will the camera's obsession with the antiquities of the house. Jeunes Filles Impudiques might just be a shot on the cheap quickie sex film, but there is a lot more to it than that. From the unmistakable photography and lighting of Jean Jacques Renon (working here as Oscar Lapin) to the playful score by Pierre Raph, Jeunes Filles Impudiques is a fascinating little entry in Rollin's filmography and, outside of its obvious importance in Jean Rollin's canon as the first 'Gentil' film, Jeunes Filles Impudiques's also marks the first time Rollin worked with the stunning French actress Joelle Coeur, a talented and extremely charismatic figure who would prove to be one of Rollin's most memorable performers.
 
 
Along with Zombie Lake, Schoolgirl Hitchhikers is the first disc in the Jean Rollin line that doesn't have any film specific extras.  A batch of trailers are the only supplements included here and the chat with Rollin found on the older Jezebel disc is missing, but since it wasn't related to this film (and can be found on other releases) its absence here isn't too devastating.  More information on this new Blu-ray can be found here
 
-Jeremy Richey, 2013-



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jean Rollin at Letterboxd



I recently joined the social movie site Letterboxd and I was happy to see that they have nearly twenty-five Jean Rollin films featured in their database that members can rate, review and add to a variety of lists.  I just created my own 'Top Twenty' Rollin list and wanted to share the link.  I'd love to hear from other members over at Letterboxd and see others top Rollin lists. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Xan Cassavetes' KISS OF THE DAMNED

In case anyone reading here hasn't already heard about Xan Cassavetes' upcoming horror film Kiss of the Damned I wanted to share both the poster and trailer.  The film, which stars Josephine de la Baume, Milo Ventimiglia, Roxane Mesquida, Anna Mouglalis, Michael Rapaport and Riley Keough has been getting quite a bit of acclaim and the cinema of our man Jean Rollin has been cited as one of the film's biggest influences.  Here's the film's gorgeous poster:



And here is the trailer (Fangoria pointed out the Fascination font!):

More information on Kiss of the Damned can be found over at Facebook, Twitter and this official Tumblr page which has images from the film, as well as the films that influenced it (I was happy to see Rollin represented by a few images that I believe I captured originally here).

I am really excited about Kiss of the Damned and I hope the film finds a lot of success.  It is awesome to finad a young filmmaker citing Rollin as an influence especially when it is someone as talented as Xan Cassavetes, whose Z Channel:  A Magnificent Obsession is one of the best documentaries of the past decade. 

 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Back Into the Depths: ZOMBIE LAKE on Blu-ray

Jean Rollin's infamous 1981 Eurocine clunker Le lac des morts vivants (Zombie Lake) is resurfacing again thanks to a gorgeous new Blu-ray from Kino/Redemption that hits disc later this month.  Fans of the film will be happy to hear that the new Blu looks terrific and it is safe to say that Zombie Lake has never looked, or sounded, this good.  While my feelings on the film itself haven't changed, I was quite blown away by just how great the film looks via this new disc and it doesn't feel quite as horrid thanks to this new HD master. 
The New Redemption disc features both the English language dub and a French track (featuring optional English subs).  Both tracks sound quite good and there aren't any major distractions audio or video-wise through the whole disc.  While this is the first disc in The Cinema of Jean Rollin line that hasn't featured a Tim Lucas penned booklet, there are a couple of extras on hand including some alternate 'clothed' sequences and the English language titles.  Some trailers are also included. 
Zombie Lake will always stand as one of my least favorite Rollin works but I am glad to see represented so well on this new Blu-ray, as I know the film does have an adoring fan following.  I am also happy to see Redemption unleashing Jess Franco's Eurocine shocker Oasis of the Zombies the same day for obvious reasons. 
Big Kudos to Redemption and Kino for continuing their spectacular Jean Rollin line with Zombie Lake.  Two big ones are coming in March, The Grapes of Death and The Night of the Hunted!

Monday, January 21, 2013

More Jean Rollin Blu-rays are Coming Soon!

The Grapes of Death and Night of the Hunted, two of the most eagerly anticipated Jean Rollin Blu-rays, are now up for pre-order from Kino/Redemption over at Amazon, as well as his absolutely terrific first 'Michel Gentil' production Jeunes Filles Impudiques (Schoolgirl Hitchhikers). No cover-art or specs list yet but I will post those as soon as they are released and announced.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Coming Soon

 
Out on DVD and Blu-ray 02-26-13 from Kino/Redemption.