Groovy & Wild Films from Around the World

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Actually, Jean Rollin.

I thought long and hard before writing this post, after years (it’s been since 2006!) of posting exclusively on Jess Franco and his amazing –from various points of view- films, I never, ever waned to post something of another filmmaker on this site in a way that takes a diversion from Jess Franco. I believe this does not fall into the category of diversion, rather, after having just seen The Nude Vampire, I think that Jean Rollin shares a special place along side of Jess Franco, and I’m not just talking about the time they co-directed that horrifically abysmal “Zombie Lake”!

To further this train of thought, I also own a comprehensive and nearly encyclopedic essay on the films of Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, José Ramón Larraz and three other European directors who were extremely prolific in the Euroshock and erotic sub-genres. The book in question, before I forget to mention it, is “Immoral Tales”, and I’m sad to say it’s been out of print for a while, as far as I know. I was lucky enough to find a copy at a mere 25% of (not off) the cover price at a local bookseller who was (also sadly) going out of business a few years ago. This is actually the book that got me into both Jess Franco and Jean Rollin in the first place. (When it came to Jose, I’d have to credit Anchor Bay for releasing his kick-ass 1974 flick “Vampyres” as the means to my introduction to this director.) At any rate, as these fine European directors share space (whole chapters, in fact) in Immoral Tales, I have thus found it fitting, not contradictory, to include some words about them once in a while on this platform. I hope, as much as I’m sure, Jess Franco wouldn’t mind.

And after finally seeing Rollin’s The Nude Vampire last night, which showcases the talents of a young French actress who bares a shocking resemblance to Miley Cyrus (did I even spell that right?), I could see the erotic influences here that were also evident in Franco’s Blue Rita and She Killed in Ecstasy, as well as… hold on, here… Francis Ford Coppola’s envisioning of Dracula. Yes, as soon as I watched The Nude Vampire, I knew exactly where I’d seen those sheer pastel dresses wrapped around our vampiresses' naked bodies while they ran around the exterior sets. And although the wardrobe choices in The Nude Vampire (as with many others of Rollin’s films) were much more transparent than the ones worn by Winona Ryder or Sadie Frost in Dracula, at least Coppola had the good sense to soak the actresses in rain as they ran around their nineteenth century hedge maze.

Granted, The Nude Vampire seems burdened with being one of Rollin’s earlier works, as he seems to have not quite ironed out the fluidity, eroticism and groovy arthouse presentation his later (even in the more immediate sense) films achieved. The Nude Vampire is pretty swell, sure, but for myself, even being a little familiar with Rollin’s work, it just made me think back in the first time I saw Fascination, Night of the Hunted and Requiem for a Vampire. Even his themes of Vampirism in The Nude Vampire are needlessly heavy-handed and create too many expository scenes, especially at the end, giving this movie more the feeling of American b-movie than French arthouse eroticism. Do I still think it’s worth a look? Surely I do. It is fun to watch. Then again, would we expect anything less than that from a movie titled The Nude Vampire?