I believe Rollin just happened to articulate in terms of horror. Naked bodies, blood, he approached these from the indulgent standpoint of a connoisseur. With the wanton decadence of a dandy.
Vampires were incidental as it turns out, they were usually involved but as seductive instruments of a sensually paced nightmare; it was always, nowhere else more obvious than here and perhaps Night of the Hunted, about the ephemeral wandering. So not an aesthetic, but the sensation of seeing, touching. Memories about these, cravings that unsettle.
This perfectly prefaces his work of twenty years, you should see it if you have solved how Rollin fits in your life. It is about two Alices who transport themselves through a mirror of fictions; the Wonderland as it turns out is eerie, desolate New York. A memory of a journey past? A fanciful, mysterious flight inwards? He frames before and after with an essay on the imaginative mind weaving narratives, fictions, cinema. Mirrors permit the journey inwards, masks.
But Rollin was never erudite, so to speak. He could never quite put to words what he had seen. So we got images of some purity struggling with poor expression. This time he poorly articulates where Jacques Rivette was so agile to improvise from, Raoul Ruiz at around the same time as this came out.
The business with the moon goddess coming alive to dance is just silly, take it with a pinch of salt. The soliloquys are vacant. But a connoisseur likes to indulge the pleasure of tasting, perhaps exaggerate that pleasure for an audience.
But once again the dream relaxes, the wandering. Films about stories are dime a dozen, what is so extraordinary about something like this is that, as cinema has sadly turned out to be, few filmmakers dare to allow us to simply share eyes. To just be sentient for a while.
By nightfall, a constellation of neon adverts in Time Square gleam behind steam rising from black streets like the whole thing with its alien reaches is about to evaporate before our eyes.
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