Kino Lorber/Redemption's The Cinema Of Jean Rollin series, so it's great on a number of counts to now see them release one of Rollin's final films, La fiancée de Dracula, as a special edition Blu-ray and DVD. Originally released on home video here in the States as Fiancee of Dracula by Shriek Show back in 2002, La fiancée de Dracula has in long need been deserving of an upgraded re-release. Shriek Show's earlier DVD release of Rollin's late period work was among their most problematic releases with a smeary digitized look that all but destroyed the cinematography of Norbert Marfaing-Sintes, the DP who also shot Rollin's Two Orphan Vampires. This early anamorphic DVD release did contain an enlightening interview with Rollin but otherwise it was a major disappointment for fans and damaged the film's reputation. The film was then released by Redemption on DVD back in 2009 but all of the problems from the earlier release were ported over, much to the chagrin of Rollin fans Stateside hoping to see Rollin's work as it had been intended.
Thankfully this new release of Dracula's Daughter from Kino Lorber/Redemption finally presents fans with a good looking and sounding version of one of the closing chapters of Rollin's cinematic journey. No longer looking like a shot on video throwaway, Dracula's Fiancee looks quite lush and rich on this recent release and it very quickly casts the same hypnotic spell that so many of Rollins films managed throughout his career. Much like viewing their restored release of The Escapees a few years back, I was struck by just how much more I responded to Dracula's Fiancee this time around. The film has long been among my least favorite among the master's works but I was really taken with the film on this new Blu-ray and, while it is still a flawed work, I came away with a new admiration and love for the film.
While this upgraded release of Dracula's Fiancee does not contain the original Shriek Show extras it does contain a terrific and informative commentary track by Samm Deighan, the editor of Spectacular Optical's Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin. Deighan does an incredible job of placing the film as an integral part of Rollin's canon and points out a number of artistic and literary influences throughout its 94 minute running time. It's a great track that fans of Rollin and the film with relish.
Missing from this release are any new liner notes from Tim Lucas, who provided his written thoughts to the majority of the earlier Cinema of Jean Rollin release from Kino/Redemption. There is in actuality only one other extra besides the Deighan commentary but it is a doozy as Rollin's mesmerizing 1989 made-for-television feature Perdues dans New York is included as a bonus film. Billed under its English title Lost In New York, Rollin's late eighties work is among his greatest films, but fans hoping for a full HD restoration of one of his most hypnotic works are in for a disappointment as the print included here is in worse for the wear condition. While that's disappointing, it's hard to fault Kino as it is billed as a bonus feature and the HD resolution does at least give it a bit more clarity and detail than we've seen before. Hopefully, Perdues dans New York will some day get the type of major upgrade it deserves but until then its inclusion here is welcome if still a bit of a let down.
All in all, Kino/Redemption's new release of La fiancée de Dracula is recommended for casual fans while the upgraded visuals of the feature and Deighan commentary make it essential for Rollin fans.
-Jeremy Richey, 2019-