Monday, December 27, 2010

An Alternate Michel Gentil Titles Sequence at Tomb it May Concern

David at the always amazing Tomb it May Concern has unearthed an alternate title sequence for one of Jean Rollin's Michel Gentil productions, and I wanted to supply the link here. Thanks to David for posting this very interesting variation. My post on this film, with the other different credit sequence can be found here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Lovely Video Tribute to Jean Rollin

Valentine De Luxe has made this lovely tribute video to Jean Rollin and I wanted to share it here for those who hadn't seen it.

Jean Rollin, poète de l'image from valentine deluxe on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Are Nearing 100 Memorial Links

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I added a whole slew of additional Jean Rollin Memorial Links this morning. We are coming close to that 100 mark. Thanks to everyone who has been sending me the links and I will continue adding them as they come my way.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Slight Rant and a Big Thank You

Nothing gets under my skin more than elitist film critics, fans and self-appointed ‘experts’ who live to force their view of what ‘great art’ is, and isn’t, on anyone unlucky enough to be in their vicinity. Recently while perusing a certain message board concerning Jean Rollin’s untimely passing I was angered by one of these elitist blowhards who not only questioned Rollin’s place in film history but questioned that anyone actually cared that he had passed. I don’t ask that everyone be a fan of Rollin’s canon, one of art’s defining qualities is that it will never be universally loved, but how dare someone take it upon themselves to state that others shouldn’t admire his work and mourn his passing.

I get so sick and tired of so called film lovers who only admire what they consider ‘high-art’ and who dismiss anything they see as beneath them. My only consolation is that their ‘work’ will be forgotten while the films of directors they routinely reject like Rollin, Franco, Metzger, Sarno and Borowczyk will continue to prosper and find new fans and admirers with each passing year.

Since Jean Rollin passed away less than a week ago he has been granted some of the most eloquent and passionate tributes by a mostly online community of writers who have been touched by his work, often in a very profound way. These are talented writers who aren’t getting paid for what they do. They are writing because they have a very genuine passion for film, and they are among the most knowledgeable and articulate film historians on the planet.

I just wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who has posted these wonderful tributes these past few days to Jean Rollin, an artist who faced harsh criticism throughout his career and will no doubt face the same jabs in death. Those snobby ‘lovers’ of film, like the gentlemen at that message board, look to take-out anyone who goes against their perceived and small ideas of what makes a great artist. They will sadly always be in our midst, looking to put out the creative fires of our most imaginative artists, but their narrow viewpoint ultimately means NOTHING.

Take comfort in THE FACT that Jean Rollin’s work will survive long after the words of these so called purveyors of fine-art are completely forgotten.

I know I do…

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jean Rollin Tribute Links

I am getting ready to start gathering a collection of tribute links honoring Jean Rollin, as so many are beginning to appear all over the web. They are going to be placed on the right side of the page here so they can be easily accessed and updated. If you have posted a link, or know of one I don't have listed, please leave it in the comments space of this post and I will get it added. I am finding all of these wonderful memorials to the great man very moving so I want to share them here. Thank you...

Jean Rollin R.I.P.

It is with great sadness this morning that I have to report that our beloved Jean Rollin has passed away. I first heard the news yesterday afternoon via a series of discussions on Facebook, and through some emails, but finding confirmation was difficult. I was hoping to wake up today and find that this was a mistake but the news of Rollin's passing is now being reported through various media outlets as well. While I have known that his health had been very poor this is still very shocking news and I am extremely saddened by it.

Yesterday while I was reading all of the various notes of concerned friends over at Facebook I was reminded of what an inspiring force Jean Rollin was to his fans. We live in a society that more often than not embraces artists that play it safe, where taught technical proficiency is embraced more than genuine passion. Jean Rollin was a confrontational and wonderfully rough around the edges artist who was the very opposite of safe throughout his career. Reading the outpouring of love yesterday on Facebook reminded me of the kinship that I feel with fellow fans who don't want their art to be easy and sanitized.

Jean Rollin loved the cinema and you can feel that passion in all of his works. You can also sense that passion in the inspiring, and quite remarkable, stand Rollin took in the last 15 years when he refused to quit working no matter how poor his health became. This man lived to create and we are all blessed as film and literature lovers who embrace art that dares be dangerous and difficult as well as haunting and poetic.

I can only offer up my most sincere best wishes to Jean Rollin's family and friends on this very sad day. I will begin offering up links to the various tributes that will no doubt begin appearing as well later today. I will also continue honoring this great poet of the cinema here at Fascination, as I believe with all of my heart that this is a valuable project and Rollin is deserving of the best tribute we can give him.

While we mourn the loss of Jean Rollin at the age of 72 let us also celebrate the incredible body of work he left for us to watch, read and admire. Here was a filmmaker and author that was truly unique, who played by his own rules and who was able to stand apart from all of his peers with his very distinct vision. Simply put, there has never been anyone quite like Jean Rollin and, honestly, how many other modern artists can you say that about?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Rare Mr. Cinema (Erotisme et Cinema) Jean Rollin Cards

These two splendid, and quite rare, Mr Cinema cards recently popped up over at eBay and I wanted to share them here. These come from the short-lived Erotisme et Cinema series and the first highlights Rollin as a director while the second celebrates Fascination. I wonder how many more of these Rollin themed cards were printed?

I just found out that the excellent Medusa Fanzine has an additional one of these at this link...enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Finally Out!

After quite a number of delays it looks like Redemption-Salvation's disc of Jeunes Filles Impudiques is finally out. Diabolik has the Schoolgirl Hitchhikers disc listed as "In Stock" for just 14.99 and the trailer (which features wildly improved picture quality from the grey market releases) Salvation has put together is posted above.
My copy has been pre-ordered from Amazon and I have my fingers crossed that it will be on its way soon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jean Rollin Interviewed in Fangoria #299

I just wanted to let everyone know that the new issue of Fangoria (#299 with Natalie Portman on on the cover) features a new interview with Jean Rollin conducted by Carline Vie and Fango editor Chris Alexander. The interview runs about 3 and a half pages and, while it doesn't contain too much new information, it's a nice little piece which features Rollin talking about his career, health and upcoming film, The Mask of Medusa.
This was actually the first issue of the new Alexander edited Fangoria that I have purchased and I think it's a good issue. The pieces on Harry Kumel, Vampire Circus, Sage Stallone, Black Swan and Jeff Lieberman were all particularly solid. The near ten dollar price tag is steep but I know it's a sign of the times more than anything else.
Anyway, just a heads up on the Rollin interview for my readers here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Cinema of Jean Rollin: Les Deux Orphelines Vampires (1997)

By the time of Killing Car’s brief release in 1993 most mainstream critics and filmgoers aware of Jean Rollin were all but ready to write him off as just a strange anomaly in French film history. Of course, Rollin had been a critical punching bag for years so the idea of relegating him to just footnote status would have have been fine to the most blood-thirsting critics. However in the mid-nineties, thanks to a series of articles and semi-legitimate video releases, Jean Rollin finally began to get some of the respect that had always alluded him. Most unexpectedly an ailing Rollin launched a cinematic creative comeback at the age of sixty with a work that would be defiantly ‘Rollinesque”, the startling Les deux orphelines vampires (Two Orphan Vampires).

The revival of Jean Rollin really began with the publishing of the Cathal Tohill and Pete Tomb’s Immoral Tales: European Sex and Horror Movies 1956-1984, a landmark book released in 1994 in Britain and then the United States. One of the great and most important film books ever published, Immoral Tales was at its most inspired and impassioned in its long chapter on Rollin, offering up one of the first retrospectives of his work up to that point. The chapter on Rollin was also respectful and fiery, as Tohill and Tombs had their critical arsenal fully-loaded against twenty-five years of undeserved and unfair criticism against Rollin’s distinctive brand of filmmaking. Immoral Tales introduced many younger film fans to the world of Jean Rollin, and Rollin himself would include a shot of the book in Two Orphan Vampires as a thank you to two film historians who finally saw value in his work.

Immoral Tales opened a floodgate of writing on Rollin’s once forgotten films, mostly in British publications like Flesh and Blood and Eyeball. The most important follow-up article came in from America though in Issue 31 of Tim Lucas’ Video Watchdog. Issue 31 of VW is still one of their shining moments and it offered a Rollin cover story that included a huge Peter Blumenstock interview with Rollin, as well as a number of Rollin reviews from Lucas himself. The issue, not coincidentally, also included a review of the American version of Immoral Tales.

The Video Watchdog Rollin issue coincided with grey-market dealer Video Search of Miami’s “Authorized Jean Rollin’ VHS collection. These over-priced (near 40 bucks a pop) tapes looked attractive enough in their clamshell cases and some even came with an exclusive camcorder filmed intro by Rollin, but once the packaging was broken what was inside were blurry looking dupes of British pre-records. The VSOM tapes did at least make some of Rollin’s greatest films available for the first time in the United States and, unlike Something Weird’s Rollin releases, they were uncut.

It was in this exciting period that Les deux orphelines vampires (Two Orphan Vampires) appeared. Taking its title from Adolphe D’Ennery’s French Novel Les Deux Prphelines and adapted from two novels Rollin had penned in the early to mid nineties, Two Orphan Vampires would be the first vampire themed film Rollin had shot in nearly 15 years. Rollin would explain to Blumenstock in the pages of VW that his, “recent increase in popularity had put (him) in a very favorable position”, and that he was the also producer with , “complete creative control”.

Rollin would explain to Blumenstock that, “the story of Two Orphan Vampires involves two little blind orphans (that) can only see at night because they are vampires and the film film tells of their adventures”. In other words, it was to be a classic Jean Rollin film running the same ground as essential works like Requiem for a Vampire. In hindsight Two Orphan Vampires might not be one of Rollin’s greatest works but it was astonishing to see in the mid-nineties, as it was a potent reminder that Rollin’s creative force hadn’t been diminished by health problems or nearly three decades of critical flogging.

Rollin described Two Orphan Vampires as his, “most accomplished and professional film”, in the essential book Virgins and Vampires. He also celebrated the fact that he had time to truly prep the film and that he got to, “rehearse with the two lead actors long before the filming took place”. Despite the fact that his health was very poor during the time of filming Two Orphan Vampires, the experience was a happy one for Rollin, his cast and crew. It would give him the opportunity to reunite with his greatest muse, Brigitte Lahaie, and work with fellow French legend Tina Aumont for the first time. It would also allow him to make a film in an atmosphere of appreciation and when his health made it impossible for him to work at full capacity collaborators like Veronique Djaouti and Nathalie Perrey were their to offer assistance.

In the spirit of some of his greatest casting choices, the leads chosen for the Two Orphan Vampires were almost complete novices, but they would both turn out to be quite inspired picks. Future-filmmaker Alexandra Pic had never shot a film before Two Orphan Vampires and the same goes for Isabelle Teboul, a talented young actress who sadly hasn’t worked much since. Rollin would write that both were, “full of invention and ready to do anything” and their delicate performances guide Two Orphan Vampires splendidly throughout.

Photographed by cinematographer Norbert Marfaing-Sintes, who would later work with Rollin on Fiancee of Dracula and Night of the Hourglass, Two Orphan Vampires operates as basically a series of connected vignettes, all of which deliberately recall Rollin’s past works as well as some of his major influences. It’s a gentle, almost childlike, film made up of, as Rollin would put it, “images that had been lodged in (his) head for a long time”. Like his best work, Two Orphan Vampires is extremely poetic as well and Rollin admitted that it followed his books closely, “even down to the dialogues”, so the striking, “literary feel” was very deliberate. Rollin would go so far as to have his two young actresses read sections of his book for the moments that the budget wouldn’t allow him to film, an act that makes Two Orphan Vampires an almost avant-garde film marked by experimentation.

Surprisingly perhaps Rollin decided to scale back the erotic quality that had driven so many of his past films and he noted that Two Orphan Vampires was indeed a “tamer” film. He thought this helped make it, “better constructed and more controlled”, but I am among those who miss the fierce eroticism of his greatest works. Ultimately it doesn’t matter though as Rollin in that Summer of 95 finally once again had “the freedom to film” exactly what he wanted.

Jean Rollin’s creative rebirth culminated at Fantafestival, where Two Orphan Vampires played, when he was awarded a much deserved lifetime achievement prize. It was a triumphant moment and it is fitting that the film he was presenting that night was such a strong statement of purpose. Jean Rollin was back on his own terms and, minor flaws aside, Two Orphan Vampires was a cause for major celebration.

Two Orphan Vampires is available in the States courtesy of Shriek Show and the DVD contains some really splendid extras including long interviews with Rollin, Pic and Teboul. Sadly the picture quality is lacking and is too dark (early copies of the disc were also not progressively scanned correctly, a fact that caused some horrendous blurry fogging in certain sections of the film). I haven’t seen any import copies of the film and would appreciate any input available on what the best currently available version might be.