Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Note From An Ailing Blogger

Greetings all. I know some of you have noticed that I haven't been doing a lot of actual writing as of late. I wanted to let everyone know that I am not suffering from any sort of blogging burn-out, and that I will be rocking again soon. Last year, I had a pretty bad fall and the physical repercussions of it have just recently started to really appear. I have been experiencing some annoying pain in my leg since the fall but in the last couple of months it has become constant and unbearable. It's at it worst when I am sitting, so hence less writing. I am on the road to recovery though and I am looking forward to really writing again in the next few weeks or so. Until then, posts will probably continue to be of a more visual nature (those are fun, quick and hopefully still interesting). Please forgive me if I am more lax than usual in replying to comments and emails. I will do the best I can do, just bear with me. Thanks everyone for the continuing always means a lot.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Hidden Cinema of Jean Rollin: Vibrations Sexuelles (1977)

One of the most resonate moments in Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece Boogie Nights occurs towards the end when disillusioned Jack Horner asks his editor what his newest, made strictly for cash project, is like, with the reply being, “It is what it is.” That’s a bit how I feel about the couple of adult features I have in my collection that Rollin shot for purely financial reasons between 1976 and 1979. They are what they are, cheap if nice looking productions with little plot and little style. Rollin has himself called them awful and there is very little to distinguish them from any other like minded films from the period. Rollin was at his creative peak in the seventies and it’s a real crime that he he had to sacrifice his artistic vision because audiences and critics of the day didn’t see his value. The mighty Rollin did what he had to do though, but thankfully by 1978 he began to get financing again for his regular films.

Vibrations Sexuelles is arguably the most important film Rollin shot under the Michel Gentil name in this period for one reason alone, namely that it marked the first time he worked with the remarkable Brigitte Lahaie. Seen here in one of her earliest film roles, the brunette Lahaie is stunningly beautiful and is already projecting a quality that would mark her as one of the most memorable French film figures to come out of the seventies. It’s easy to see what Rollin saw in her, and it’s to his credit that he kept the promise that he made to her during the shooting of Vibrations Sexuelles that he would soon give her a part in a mainstream production. Lahaie, more than anyone else, is the ultimate Rollin heroine and their historic collaboration begin here.

There isn’t much to say about this film. My copy doesn’t have English subtitles and is, I believe, heavily cut. Lahaie is breathtaking though and Cathy Castel pops up in a scene. There are some beautiful images of Paris throughout the film and Rollin manages some nice shots, although clearly his heart isn’t in this. It’s finally not a particularly interesting production and outside of some familiar faces, there is nothing that announces it as a Jean Rollin film.

The film can be ordered through Xploited for those interested. I don't have any information on the quality of this version, or whether it is uncut.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jean Rollin: The Collaborators (Marie-Georges Pascal)

Born in October of 1946 in Cambrai, France, Marie-Georges Pascal proved to be a fixture in French cinema throughout the seventies. As the lead character in Jean Rollin’s The Grapes of Death, Pascal is extremely memorable and gives what is often just regarded as a gore film a real spirit and heart.
I’ve had a hard time tracking down too much information about Pascal. Rollin himself wrote very little on her in Virgins and Vampires, outside of calling her very “moving” and recalling that she made her character’s descent into madness extremely real. Pascal does give one of the best performances seen in a Rollin film and it’s a shame the two didn’t have the chance to work together again.
Pascal made her debut in front of the camera’s in 1971 at the age of 25 in Jean-Claude Roy’s Good Little Girls, a film which would see her playing one of the leads. This appearance led to a slew of roles in both film and television and in 1973 Pascal landed one of the most memorable roles of her career opposite Thrill of the Vampires star Sandra Julien in Max Pecas’ I Am Frigid…Why?. That role would cause the talented Pascal to almost exclusively be cast in French films of an erotic nature from that point on.
Roles followed for directors ranging from Jean-Francoise Davy to Michel Lemoine to Jacques Scandelari. Some were small, some large but none were better than Pascal’s sometimes-startling turn in Rollin’s The Grapes of Death.
Sadly her lead work in Rollin’s film didn’t help the trouble Pascal’s career and by the early eighties she was working almost strictly in television. Pascal’s final performance came in 1983 with a bit-part in Jean-Pierre Desagnat’s Shock Cops.
Marie-Georges Pascal sadly passed away at the tragically young age of 39, reportedly by her own hand. There is very little information about her online that I have been able to find. Any more information would be appreciated.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Iron Rose: Lobby Card

This rare lobby card for The Iron Rose just popped up on eBay.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lahaie on Rollin (2)

"Rollin is a very nice and gentle man who has a lot of interesting and artistic things to say in his movies. Unfortunately many of his projects never become reality, like a movie in which I was supposed to play the lead role. He always had huge problems financing his movies, I think now more than ever. I really love Rollin. His movies are very special, a different kind of cinema. If he ever asked me to work with him again I would say, "Yes, at once!"

***From an interview conducted by Peter Blumenstock and Christian Kessler for European Trash Cinema Volume 2/Number 8.***

Lahaie on Rollin (1)

***A new series designed to gather together some available quotes by Brigitte Lahaie on working with Jean Rollin***

"I must have made my 2nd or 3rd film with Jean Rollin and what stunned me the most was his shyness...even when making (adult) films (something he was driven to more often by financial necessity) I realised that Jean Rollin shows meticulous attention to detail in researching the scenario, in choosing a team of good technicians, etc."

"Jean Rollin is a true gentleman and has a great respect for the actors though his shyness is sometimes so that he almost didn't dare direct them (in the adult films)."

"After this (first film) Jean sent me postcards promising me a real role in his next film. Need I say I didn't believe him! But, to my surprise, he was the first to give me my first chance at 'straight' cinema with a role in La Raisins de la Mort. And two years later he gave me the lead role in Fascination. I remember in that film some actors demanded that I change my name on the credits...Jean Rollin told them politely to get lost and so my name remained on this great fantasy movie."

"I always enjoyed working with Jean Rollin and look forward to any future roles in his movies."

-The above quotes are taken from Brigitte Lahaie: A Pictorial Biography from Media Publications. Reportedly some were translated from Brigitte's own biography, Moi, La Scandaleuse. More quotes are available in each and they are both highly recommended.-

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Grapes of Death Wallpapers

My Grapes of Death wallpapers have been posted at my Cult Film Wallpapers spot for everyone to enjoy. Just click on the link to the right to be taken to them. More posts on The Grapes of Death are coming this week.