Following up their initial wave of five Jean Rollin titles, Redemption Films and Kino Lorber have brought us a second batch of Rollin Blu-rays — three titles each accompanied by a nice collection of extras. Like the bulk of Rollin’s work, style triumphs over substance or even sense most of the time in these three films, but for fans of the bizarre, these are the films for you.
The Rape of the Vampire (1968)
Rollin’s debut feature — shot in anomalous black-and-white — is even less narratively focused than his future work. Consisting of two distinct segments shot months apart with characters that die and suddenly reappear without an explanation later, The Rape of the Vampire is pretty sloppy even by generous standards.
Reportedly, the script was lost two days into shooting, and it shows, as a barely coherent story about a doctor trying to dissuade a group of women from their vampiric tendencies in part one devolves into a muddle of sacrifice and ritual in part two. However, Rollin’s flair for the surreal and a tendency to experiment technically are out in full force. He’s not nearly as assured here, and the seemingly nonsensical blocking and cutting can get a bit tiresome, but the seeds of Rollin’s unique style are present, even if he would prove to be more suited to color.
The 1080p, 1.66:1 transfer of the film is quite good, presenting strong detail and impressive clarity. Blacks can crush a little in darker scenes, but grayscale separation is generally solid, and damage is limited to light speckling. The mono audio is adequate and mostly clear despite some background hiss.
The disc includes two of Rollin’s surviving short films — Les Amours jaunes and Les Pays loin — along with several Rollin interviews, a making-of doc, an alternate cut of one scene and an interview with actor Jean-Loup Philippe, who appears in the film under a pseudonym. A selection of trailers and a booklet with essays by Tim Lucas is also included.
Requiem for a Vampire (1973)
Rollin’s favorite of his films, Requiem for a Vampire is an excellent example of the dreamlike mystery he could evoke at his best. Beginning with the disorienting sight of two female thieves dressed as clowns (Marie-Pierre Castel, Mirielle d’Argent) trying to make an escape, the film follows the pair to a cemetery and a chateau where they attempt to hide, but inadvertently discover the last of the vampires.