PSYCHEDELIC SEX VAMPIRES: JEAN ROLLIN CINEMA
In the absence of a comprehensive English language book on the French filmmaker Jean Rollin, this lavishly illustrated trifle will have to do. It consists of extensive black-and-white stills, most of them X-rated, from Rollinís sexy vampire opuses LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE, LA VAMPIRE NUE, LE FRISSON DES VAMPIRES and REQUIEM POUR UN VAMPIRE, accompanied by brief paragraph-long summaries of each film, a (roughly) six page introduction by Daniel Bird and a 1996 interview with Rollin by Andy Black. The book concludes with a Rollin filmography, which only serves to remind us of the nearly three dozen Rollin films this book doesnít cover.
The Daniel Bird introduction focuses on the hallucinatory mystery comprising Rollinís brand of horrific cinema. Comparisons are made to the fiction of PHANTOM OF THE OPERAíS Gaston Leroux, the films of Luis Bunuel and Walerian Borowczyk, and the artistic traditions of French surrealism and German expressionism. Bird makes a good case for Rollinís genius, although I believe that, in claims like ďwhat Rollin has done, for all his failings, is to have created some of the most arresting images to be captured on film,Ē Bird vastly overrates his subject. Then again, at least Bird acknowledges--in the above quote and elsewhere in the essay--that Rollinís films are far from perfect overall.
The concluding interview is decent, if quite dated. Itís essentially promotion for Rollinís then-upcoming 1996 film TWO ORPHAN VAMPIRES, which he proclaims his ďbestĒ effort. Rollin also speaks of the influence of the graphic arts on his filmmaking, the scandal caused by his debut film LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE (apparently because ďnobody could understand the story. But there is a story, I swear it!Ē), his involvement in the Jess Franco initiated ZOMBIE LAKE, his fascination with sexy vampire babes, and the likely reason his work tends to be underrated by cineastes: ďthe imagery in my films is certainly more important than the stor(ies).Ē
This isnít a bad book. In fact, from a purely pictorial standpoint itís downright gorgeous, meaning if youíre wanting a photograph-heavy tome on Jean Rollin, and donít mind parting with $25, this book is for you!