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This is a French documentary on the life and films of Jean Rollin, low-budget producer, director, writer and actor, who left behind an impressive body of work that stretched from 1968 until his death in 2010, three months after completing his final film.
It would have been nice to get more interviewees (including one or both of the Castel twins ideally), but we are spoiled with whom we do have. Actress and Director Ovidie (star of 'Night of the Clocks'), actors/assistants Jean Loup Philippe and Nathalie Perrey; Journalist and critic Jean-Pierre Bouyxou (who says that watching a Rollin film is like being on acid. Bouyxou co-wrote two of Rollin's biggest - and goriest - successes 'The Grapes of Death' and 'The Living Dead Girl.'); journalist Caroline Vie, writer Pascal Francaix, and artist (and chain smoker!) Philippe Druillet. UK writer, director and erotic vampire fan Pete Tombs explains that Rollin doesn't write films for you, he writes then for himself, which is a sentiment frequently expressed by the man himself. The mighty and pout-some Brigitte Lahaie recalls how her involvement with pornography made her feel alienated during her fine appearance in 'Grapes of Death' she went on to become one of Rollin's best-known actors, and subsequent filmic appearances were a lot happier.
After the violent reaction to 'Viol', Rollin wanted to get another job but didn't know what else to do. He remembers this with a great sense of generosity and humour. He laughs about his perceived failures, an honesty that is admirable, although that merriment must disguise a certain degree of heartbreak. His experience with the box office failure 'Lips of Blood', and its subsequent re-working as a hard-core pornography film must have been particularly gruelling for him. Bouyxou says Rollin's films aren't unrealistic, they are 'anti-realistic', which is very accurate, whilst Druillet compares him to Cocteau. There is no sycophancy here whatsoever this is an honest appraisal of Rollin and his work. Ultimately, we get to know Rollin more through his very personal films than through his own cheerful self-deprecation ('Zombie Lake' is a 'terrible film', he insists it's true that it isn't his greatest work, but I certainly enjoyed it).
His work on 'Little Orphan Vampires' and his biggest budgeted production 'Dracula's Fiancée' were blighted by his ongoing illnesses and kidney dialysis requirements he was literally risking his life to make these pictures. Whilst this documentary doesn't touch upon his lesser known films, there is an abundance of observations and anecdotes to enjoy here for anyone who likes Rollin's work, and plenty of clips.
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