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.