The Iron Rose, AKA La Rose de Fer, 1972, 85 mins
This is one of Rollin’s rarest films, and a true treat for fans. A young couple explore a cemetery, and make love in an abandoned tomb only to find themselves trapped for the night among the graves and crypts. The pair frantically try to escape the haunted grounds but all in vain as they are slowly overtaken by hysteria and finally death.
Françoise Pascal is captivating as she shifts from elation, to fear, to mania; this film being a true example of Rollin’s uncanny ability to cast enthralling female leads.
“The Iron Rose is the most interesting left turn in Rollin’s oeuvre—a surrealist fever dream as beguiling and sensual as it is unsettling, anchored by a tour de force performance by Pascal which manages to be nuanced and fierce, sophisticated and primal, all the while exuding this otherworldly mesmerizing charisma.” Diabolique Magazine
The Living Dead Girl, AKA La Morte Vivante, 1982, 89 mins
Catherine Valmont (Françoise Blanchard), a wealthy heiress, dead before her time, is accidentally reanimated when some unfortunate movers attempt to store drums of chemical waste in the neglected burial vaults below her uninhabited chateau. Rollin’s “living dead girl” does everything that cinematic convention requires – she kills people, drinks human blood, devours human flesh – yet for all this, we accept her as an innocent. Meanwhile the effect that her resurrection has upon her childhood friend, Hélene (Marina Pierro), is infinitely more conscious, deliberate, and evil.
Bloodier and more violent than his own tastes preferred, THE LIVING DEAD GIRL forced Rollin to work against the grain in his own preferred genre – and he transformed himself in the process. In the unsettling bloody finale, Blanchard’s performance was so intense, so extreme in its confused appetite, revulsion and glee, the take was nearly interrupted out of concern for the actress’s mental health. It is one of the most emotionally incendiary finales in horror film history.
Killing Car, AKA Femme Dangereuse, 1993, 89mins
Starring Tiki Tsang as the ruthless, enigmatic, lethal, and eerily seductive serial killer “Car Woman”, who always leaves a toy car next to her victims in this surreal slasher. With two cops hot on her heels, strap in for a rollercoaster ride of revenge! Rollin’s love of ‘Pulp’ stories, shines through in this later work of his, which is often dismissed due to its obvious budgetary restraints; but this is another fantastic example of Rollin’s cinematography as a whole, from the way the action scenes are shot, to the soundtrack, and of course, yet another beguiling performance from a beautiful and captivating star.
“(Tiki Tsang) appears like an angel of death, radiating with charisma.”
The Yellow Lovers, AKA Les Amours Jaunes, 1958, 12 mins
Jean Rollin’s very first film, made when he was just 20 years old and it is, despite that, immediately obvious that this very much a Rollin film.
It was shot near the beaches of Dieppe, a stretch of coastline that Rollin would use in his films again and again, from Rape of the Vampire to Lips of Blood, though to Dracula’s Fiancée.
The film itself is a loose interpretation of Les Amours Jaunes (The Yellow Lovers), a collection of poems by Tristan Corbière from 1873 which focuses on loneliness and uses a series of apparently random Egon Schiele-like drawings intercut with the filmed beach footage to visually narrate the poem which is heard as a voiceover during the short film. An effect which helps convey the feeling of being between two worlds, a feeling attributed to Corbière which could just as easily be applied to Rollin himself.