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Sep 22 13 12:02 PM

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What is everyone's personal history with Jean Rollin?  How were you introduced to his films?  I think my first exposure came back in the very early 90s when I was fascinated by the photos from REQUIEM POUR UN VAMPIRE and LE FRISSON DES VAMPIRES that appeared in David Pirie's THE VAMPIRE CINEMA book.  I finally saw my first Rollin films later that decade courtesy of poor quality bootlegs picked up in Manhattan; if I recall the films were REQUIEM and LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE.  At the time I was lukewarm to them at best; they were so different to the Hammer and Spanish gothic horror films I was used to.  But now that I'm in my thirties I have a new appreciation for his films, and I understand exactly what he was trying to do.

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"Doesn't thinkin' like that give ya nightmares?"

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#1 [url]

Sep 22 13 2:10 PM

Awesome topic Ron!  I hope everyone chimes in.  I was introduced to the wonderful world of Jean Rollin in early 1996 via an issue of Video Watchdog which featured Lips of Blood on the cover.  Soon after I picked up the Tohill and Tombs book Immoral Tales, which featured a chapter on Rollin, and I was off on a hunt.  Seeing his films in the States in the mid nineties was tough, unless you had a lot of money to spend on those Video Search of Miami "Official" tapes (which were really just way overpriced dupes).  The first Rollin film I saw was Shiver of the Vampires and, I must admit, I was a bit underwhelmed (which is ironic as it is now one of my two favorites).  This version was the one that featured the extended erotic scenes (I think put out by Something Weird Video) and it really threw the pacing of the film off.  My next film was Requiem for a Vampire via the American cut called Caged Virgins (also from SWV).  Even though it was the cut version this was the film that really began to spark my passion for Rollin.  I spent the next few years collecting all of his films I could, via grey market dubs from companies like Luminous, European Trash Cinema and Midnight Video until they finally started to hit DVD in the early 2000s.  Rollin became one of my all time favorites filmmakers in this period and I fell in love with his works...it was that love that caused me to start my blog Fascination in 2008.

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#2 [url]

Sep 22 13 4:49 PM

From the cover art of the Redemption VHS tapes sold here in the UK in the early nineties. All of their releases had the same stylised covers with black and white photography which really made them stand out. first ones I got were "The Living Dead Girl", "Fascination" and "Requiem For A Vampire". The cover art looked like this:

image

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#3 [url]

Sep 22 13 6:46 PM

I remember several of those grey market copies I had in the nineties were duplicated from those UK originals and came with copies of those evocative UK covers.

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#4 [url]

Sep 23 13 6:21 AM

My introduction to Jean Rollin came about ten years ago, more or less. I'd just graduated from university and was planning to move house and begin working a new temp job, but a poorly timed broken arm delayed my plans by about a month. To help kill time whilst I recovered, I bought a pile of random, cheap VHS tapes from a mail order company that was going out of business.

I wasn't a particularly big film enthusiast at the time (although I certainly liked movies, and had a surface knowledge of art-house / cult type stuff), but I'd been enjoying watching some old horror movies on late night TV, so I thought, hey, some kind of French lesbian vampire movie, that sounds like fun, and the Redemption VHS of 'Requiem for a Vampire' was duly added to my haul.

I'd be lying if I said I immediately loved it (most of the horror films I'd seen up to this point were of the British/American variety, so I wasn't really familiar with the Euro way of doing things), but I certainly found it pretty strange and fascinating - the surreality of the whole thing, and the clown costume/car chase opening in particular, put me more in mind of Godard and other French art-house stuff I'd seen than anything I was expecting from a horror film ("GOD BLESS THE FRENCH" I remember thinking) - and it definitely cemented the impression that this Jean Rollin was a pretty crazy guy... a name worth looking out for.

About a year or two after that, living in a dull city doing a low-paying job, a combination of general boredom and a market stall that was selling a load of second hand Redemption stuff led me to "Le Frisson..". A quiet Friday night and a bottle of wine, and my mind was duly blown. It really struck a chord with me - one of the funniest, strangest, most beautiful, baffling and evocative, not to mention hugely entertaining, films I'd seen in ages. Even now that I'm a fully paid up Euro-horror fan, it's still the definitive example of everything I look for from the genre. I wanted to go out and show it to everyone I knew... but I knew they wouldn't get it, so I kept it just for myself.

Other films were acquired slowly - "Fascination", "Rape of the Vampire" and "Living Dead Girl" all on VHS, before I made the (very late) transition to DVD and started picking up the rest in sales and charity shops, all adding to my appreciation of what a unique vision this guy had as a filmmaker, and increasing my determination not to be embarrassed by all these dodgy looking tapes sitting on my shelf with their sleazy fetish model covers (not that anyone ever dared ask).

It wasn't until relatively recently, after I started my movie weblog, that I became aware of any critical writing about Rollin, and started to realise that I wasn't alone in considering him some sort of strange artistic genius rather than just a cheesy sex/gore merchant. A renewed effort to fill in the gaps in my collection followed as I picked up some of the Encore sets, sought out a copy of "Immoral Tales", and... well here we all are, I guess.

 

Last Edited By: BWHaggar Sep 23 13 6:28 AM. Edited 2 times.

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#5 [url]

Sep 23 13 7:12 AM

Re: Your introduction to the films of Jean Rollin

Wonderful Ben. thank you so much! I'm loving this catagory. It is awesome to read these memories.

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#6 [url]

Sep 23 13 8:12 AM

I think the commonality among us is interesting.  We all seem to have gotten into Rollin slowly at first, taking possibly years before we finally developed a full appreciation of the man.  We bought the bootlegs and discovered "Immoral Tales" (it's on my bookshelf too).  It's like we're all programmed with the same radio frequency.  These responses have been a lot of fun.  Keep them coming!

--------------
"Doesn't thinkin' like that give ya nightmares?"

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#7 [url]

Sep 23 13 9:18 AM

I was searching for some cool movie titles in the TV magazine, and I saw the name "Les raisins de la mort". I watched it without knowing anything about the movie.
I liked this, then I checked out Rollin's filmography. I watched 20 (or so) of his films in just one month. I was completely fascinated.
One year later, I'm here, speaking with people who know Rollin for 20 years ...

"Si demain, elle n'est toujours pas revenue, j'avertirai le maire, et nous ferons une battue"

- Youri Radionow, in "Le lac des morts-vivants"

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#8 [url]

Sep 23 13 10:52 AM

I discovered Rollin's films in 1996, when Film Office released 11 of them on VHS:

image

All of them -except Killing Car"- had already had 4 earlier releases in France (Iris, Cinéthèque, American Vidéo and Blacke Editions) but I had never found them at my local "vidéoclubs" in Lille... I think the first one I rented was "Lips of Blood", or maybe "The Living Dead Girl". I was so enthralled that I rented all the others the next day and watched 2 of them every night for a week or so!

It wasn't easy to find any information on Rollin's work at the time but little by little I managed to find "Immoral Tales", "Virgins and Vampires", Andy Black's "Necronomicon" and Norbert Moutier's second "Monster Bis" on Jean Rollin. Then I started to collect everything related to Rollin, including the earlier and foreign video releases and I still have plenty to find!

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#9 [url]

Sep 23 13 8:04 PM

Wow some fantastic tales told. Thank you everyone.

My history of Jean Rollin begins in 1999 when I went to the Incredibly Strange Film Festival for the first time. That year I saw: Blood Feast (1963) H. G. Lewis; Blast of Silence (1961) Allen Baron; Daughter's of Darkness (1971) Harry Kümel and Venus in Furs (1969) Jess Franco.

That was the beginning into my descent into Jean Rollin, The next year ISFF showed “Le Frisson des Vampires” (1971) under the name “Strange Things Happen at Night”. Which in fact I'm pretty sure I didn't see. For more info see my post about the ISFF programme.

The next two moments happened in the early 2000's. First I was at my best friend's house and we where on the internet. This was one of the few times I was exposed to the internet, which was a rare thing for me. While on it we searched zombie films and came across this website which hosted small clips of zombie films. One of the clips was The living Dead Girl (1982) I don't know why it was on the site since its not really a zombie film. Watching that clip from The Living Dead Girl was etched onto my mind, naked women, blood and screaming. I didn't know who the director was only the film name. (Its the scene about 30 minutes into the film.)

The next moment was the first time I went to a comics pop culture convention in Auckland our largest city to sell my comics. I stayed an extra day to look around and discovered Borders. Three stories of books! Amazing. It had a great film section and what did I find; but Immoral Tales, I was so excited the book equivalent of the ISFF, I brought it and poured over the book never thinking I would ever get to see any of the films in it.

That was it for about eight years. My internet access was very intermittent during that period and Jean Rollin dropped of my radar. It wasn't till about 2010 that I had decent internet which rekindled my interest in him that I started scouring it for his films. The first ever Jean Rollin film I ever saw was "The Living Dead Girl" and from then on I was on a quest.

Last Edited By: Drawward Sep 24 13 1:01 PM. Edited 2 times.

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#10 [url]

Sep 24 13 7:07 AM

Keep these wonderful stories coming.  They are all really great and it's terrific to see the certain connections that Ron brought up.

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#11 [url]

Sep 24 13 5:11 PM

Sorry, this is not the first time I've discussed this online, and it is going to get long.

The first exposure to Jean Rollin that I can remember was the 1983 book FOR ONE WEEK ONLY. It had a two-page write-up on "Caged Virgins." I mentally filed away the name and moved on.

In 1986, I saw a listing for a movie playing in downtown Los Angeles: "Curse of the Living Dead." Thinking perhaps it would be an Italian zombie movie, but not really knowing for sure what to expect, I drove up to a very seedy neighborhood, parked, and crossed my fingers that my car would still be there when I got back. The theater was "The Cameo," which itself made a "cameo" in Ken Russell's film WHORE. While buying my ticket, a pregnant woman offered to sell me a bite of the hot dog she was eating for 25 cents. I demured.

The Cameo would play four movies at a time. Well, not at EXACTLY the same time; they would show them one at a time, then start over. I entered the theater during the tail end of co-feature REMO WILLIAMS. It was dark, but I only saw a few audience members' heads, so I figured seating would be no problem. When the house lights came up, I realized that the many gaps between patrons were taken up by transients lying across four seats each. The Cameo was open 24 hours a day. Admission was $1.75. It was, it turned out, a crash-pad for transients. Hooray.

The movie started up. Over closeup shots of various characters who looked like pirates, a narrator (dubbed in English) began telling us about our cast. The music swelled and the foursome began to run down a beach. Abruptly, a title card reading "Curse of the Living Dead" appeared, crudely spliced into the print. As the credits concluded, I saw the director's name: Jean Rollin. Ah, THAT guy.

The pirates discovered a storage chest and broke into it. By now this film was already so far from what I expected, I remember thinking "Anything could be in that chest and I would not be surprised." I looked over at another young audience member and we exchanged a WTF? shrug.

I remember it was 1986 because it was around the same time that I saw ALIENS in the theater. An enjoyable film to be sure, but this Rollin thing really hit me where I live. It was utterly baffling and fascinating.

My car and I made it out alive. The film, I learned, was LES DEMONIAQUES. Pre-internet, I began to put together a Rollin filmography using reference books at the local library. Actually viewing these things was not going to be so easy. Somehow or another I obtained two Rollin flms on VHS tape. One was LE FRISSON DES VAMPIRES, dubbed into Spanish. Later I would find out that it was an interesting variant version, with some alternate music thrown in. Even through the language barrier and sixth-genereation dupe haze, I could see this was a beautiful and ridiculous movie. My next acquisition was the "Caged Virgins" version of REQUIEM POUR UN VAMPIRE. Even shorn of 20 minutes, there was no mistaking the film's intent.

Very slowly, I was able to build a collection of VHS bootlegs. I recall that one day I received untranslated tapes of both LES RAISINS DE LA MORT and FASCINATION. Craig Ledbetter was frequently my source for these obscurities, and I would "review" the films in his fanzines HI-TECH TERROR and EUROPEAN TRASH CINEMA, despite often not being able to follow the plots all that well.

At long last, I obtained a French-language tape of DEMONIAQUES. In the years since I'd first seen it (and been unable to see it again) it had built up quite a legendary status in my mind. It was very interesting to compare the actual article to my memories and impressions. The first week I had the tape, I watched it eight times.

Since then, both Rollin's reputation and the availability of his films increased. I recall paying way too much for Video Search of Miami's subtitled tapes. A laser disc of LA MORTE VIVANTE emerged, and was the first decent presentation of one of his movies. Improbably, Redemption released quite a few Rollin films on DVD during the format's infancy. But I was more than happy to upgrade when Encore's amazing special editions came out, and again when Redemption revisited Rollin's catalog on Blu-ray. It's been a very long journey, and it has frequently been difficult being patient (still waiting for a decent presentation of PHANTASMES, for instance) but I never dreamed Rollin's films would one day be so widely-available and enjoyed by so many.

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#12 [url]

Sep 26 13 2:20 AM

Fantastic story Marshall. Difficult to comprehend how bizarre and out-of-place "Les Demoniaques" must have seemed, projected in an LA grindhouse in 1986. Had that "Curse of the Living Dead" print been doing the rounds for over a decade at that point..?!

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#13 [url]

Sep 26 13 3:56 PM

I reckon it had.  Incidentally, Something Weird Video offered this title ("Curse of the Living Dead") on VHS for a while, and I think it may have been made from the same print I saw.  It had the same missing scene: the shipwrecked girls using their new powers to topple the statues in the abbey.

I've always wondered if the "Curse of the Living Dead" title card was recycled from the identical retitling of Bava's KILL BABY KILL.  The DEMONIAQUES one featured the title over a picture of a reclined, semi-clad woman, IIRC.  Not sure about the other one.

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#14 [url]

Sep 27 13 4:39 AM

Welcome aboard Marshall!  It is terrific to have you here.  I was a big fan of ETC back in the day and would order from Craig all the time.  Are any of your Rollin reviews and columns available online?  If not, would you perhaps be willing to scan some of them for us to read in the scrapbook forum?

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#16 [url]

Sep 27 13 10:42 PM

I was introduced to Rollin's work in the 90's through Pete Tombs' book, Immoral Tales.  That book pretty much introduced me to the Euro Horror genre and I haven't looked back.  I still reference it from time to time.  I remember Video Search Of Miami sold VHS copies of his films for around 25 bucks.  That was too much for me back then.  I had a buddy who was into all sorts of obscure films and it turns out he was a huge Rollin fan.  He made a few copies for me.  The first one I watched was Living Dead Girl.  It was exactly the surreal dream like quality I was expecting.  I went on to Requiem next and that was even more out there.  Exactly what I was looking for!  I pretty much just dug in from there and still seek out any Rollin related material to this day.

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#17 [url]

Sep 28 13 7:09 AM

Re: Your introduction to the films of Jean Rollin

Awesome Blazed! It sounds like Immoral Tales was a pivotal book for many of us. It was a real life changer for me.

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#20 [url]

Sep 29 13 4:29 AM

Is it available ? Never read it.

"Si demain, elle n'est toujours pas revenue, j'avertirai le maire, et nous ferons une battue"

- Youri Radionow, in "Le lac des morts-vivants"

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