A girl arrives from London to visit her estranged relatives in a remote castle for the reading of her father's will. After a while she discovers that they are all in fact dead and her ... See full summary »
KILLING CAR is one of Jean Rollin's most unusual films and is a real departure from the vampire theme for which he is best known, though it still maintains Rollin's signature mix of mysterious femmes fatales and female flesh.
A Van Helsing-like professor and his protegé are tracking Dracula's descendants through the world of "parallels", creatures who are human in form but live quite distinct psychic lives. A ... See full summary »
A lesbian vampire couple waylay and abduct various passer-byes, both male and female, to hold them captive at their rural manor in the English countryside in order to kill and feed on them to satisfy their insatiable thirst for blood.
José Ramón Larraz
A small community is besieged by vampires. After he watches friends ravaged in a convenience store, a lone avenger goes off to do battle with the undead, armed with shotgun, chainsaw, and ... See full summary »
How do you horrify an audience that's overused to violence? This is a tricky one. Recently I watched Franju's "Nuits Rouges" (1974) wherein a character is stabbed in the back with a syringe; he's stood there in agony trying to remove it, but it's in the small of his back, he struggles to reach it and hysterically pleads with his buddies to take it out, but they are too busy with chasing the culprit. It's this kind of material that you need to show to get the audience there, show them hysteria, because hysteria is infectious. There's a good example in Rollin's zombie movie Les Raisins de la Mort. There is a panicked blind woman (Lucie) being led through a village draped in cadavers. You can see corpses in all sorts of movies, we're corpse-fatigued now. So how to communicate? Lucie senses that something is wrong, and pleads with the stranger who is leading her (Élisabeth) to tell her what it is, when she doesn't, the panic and hysteria start to mount as kindness is misunderstood for untrustworthiness, and you start to understand what you're seeing. Jean Rollin said, when asked why he always has scenes with two pretty women in his films, that he was the wrong person to ask, the right person apparently is a psychiatrist. Whatever the (doubtless perverse and sado-lesbian) reason, those scenes always manage a frisson for me.
The story concerns a remote French region where some new pesticides are being sprayed on the grapes, somehow this is causing a plague of zombies. The character Élisabeth leads the viewer through the bizarre countryside, where there are jagged stones that jut out of the stunted ground, and brittle leafless October trees. The houses are crumbling, made of old lichened stone, they're all perched on hillsides, the walls dissolve into scree and have plants growing out of them, there are arches and towers and strange labyrinthine streets, really the whole landscape of the movie is quite phantasmagoric. Few directors I have seen understand the importance of location as much as Rollin.
The film plays on urbanite fears of the countryside, that you get in giallo (House With Laughing Windows) as well as in American cinema (Deliverance). The people of the (very strange) countryside in this movie were bad before the plague came. We can tell by the way the Polish worker is mistreated at the start of the movie by the patron of the vineyard, and also as Lucie mentions being mocked by the disablist villagers before the plague (the abuse of disabled people is an alarming and undermentioned phenomenon).
I like to harp on about is the importance of interior design in a movie. Please movie makers, unless you're going for verite, have the rooms you shoot your movies in properly designed for maximum psychological effect! There's a very creepy house in the film where there are stuffed animals at every corner, and above the bed (leopardskin cover on the quilt of course) there's an ugly animal skin that really looks like it's been flayed off the animal's back.
The whole uncanny sense of the movie is heightened by the strange soundtrack that you can't really place, it could be harmonium, or electronica, doesn't sound like anything I've heard before. It helps make the movie hermetic. You need to know in a horror film that there is no connection to familiar reality, no help coming, no unsevered umbilicus.
It wouldn't be a great Jean Rollin film if we didn't get to see Brigitte Lahaie naked, and Rollin delivers on that again, as with the other two great movies of his I've seen, Fascination and La Nuit des Traquees. We also get to see Lahaie walking two enormous hounds at night in her nightie, her gorgeous blonde hair shimmering in the light of a flambeau. It's all pure insanity.
I won't spoil the topmost scene of awesome depravity in this movie. I do however feel the need to mention the gore in general, although a lot of the depravity is either referred to or implied (what had Lahaie been using those dogs for on other nights?). Generally the gore effects were fairly cheap, some of the scab prosthetics looked like they were going to peel off, and occasionally it looked like one of the poor actor had had their face dipped in custard and jam. However master that he is Rollin can still use this. There's a scene where a man with a grievous wound to his forehead head-butts some glass repeatedly, from the other side of the glass you can see the pus smear. That is disturbing, and that's what most modern horror directors lack, the artistry to make the gore connect with the audience.
I like the zombies in this movie too, they are slow moving like in all movies, but you can see that the zombie plague is more facilitating the unleashing of something depraved and already present inside the rural folk. You can see for example that their personalities are still there, like when a zombie character calls for Lucie by name. Murder is not just by mindless chomping like in most zombie movies, these zombies are straight out of de Sade's mind.
I salute Jean Rollin, poet of the subconscious and the macabre.
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