Midnight Movie: Jean Rollin’s “Fascination”

Nitehawk is showing Jean Rollin’s 1971 film Fascination (accompanied by live music from Morricone Youth) for our midnight movie this weekend. The most “lucid” of the Rollin oeuvre, Fascination is blunt, beautiful, and blood-thirsty.

It’s pretty much impossible to try to write about a Jean Rollin film, they are much better suited to explain themselves. The king of erotic-horror (read: lesbian vampires), Rollin’s films are often bad, sometimes un-watchable, but always visually stunning. These art films recall the look of other European “horror” films of the era but remain, ques cu sa?, resoundingly French.

The low-budget independent film industry in 1970s France was a sex industry. The liberalisation of censorship gradually opened up to hard-core porn, which soon dominated the slates of exploitation producers. Rollin, personally obsessed with his own visions of erotic vampires, cleaved an idiosyncratic path. He did his share of straight sex pictures (as did Franco), and often cast porn stars in his horror epics (since they were used to performing in the nude, whatever their thespian abilities), but he spent most of his producers’ money on deeply personal films with little regard for their commercial prospects. – David Kalat on Kinoeye

Jean Rollin, who passed away last year at the age of 72 in Paris, has secure title within the art-house/cult cannon. Making films from the 1960s until his last film Le masque de la Méduse (2010), Rollin shared an interest in the collision of violence, eroticism, and fantasy along with contemporaries Jess Franco and Georges Franju (just look at the mask-imagery in Perdues dans New York in comparison to Les yeux sans visage) or even perhaps Hustler. Marrying the corporeal element of porn and horror, his films are a Sadeian Gothic power play addressing sex, violence, submission/dominance, and death in one visceral and hallucinatory dream sequence. 

To get you in the mood, here are some of Hatched’s Jean Rollin film trailers and clips:

The Rape of the Vampire aka Le viol du vampire (1968)

Shiver of the Vampires aka Le Frisson des Vampires aka Strange Things Happen at Night (1971)

The Iron Rose aka La rose de fer (1973)

Lost in New York aka Perdues dans New York (1989) 

Perdues dans New York from erin womack on Vimeo.

See you at midnight!

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