Everyone knows that the best vampire is naked and pansexual, and no one knew this better than French filmmaker Jean Rollin. He started out as a young editor for hire, making short films for his own edification.
But in 1968, his newest short would turn into a feature: Le Viol du Vampire or The Rape of the Vampire. With this, Rollin attempted to tap into his own subconscious, mixing in dreamlike surrealism, American serial films and comic book iconography. It was disjointed and convoluted, but shot with skill and beautiful cinematography. Upon its release, it was considered an immediate failure, legendarily sparking a riot (up there with the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring). Everyone’s a critic, huh?
Rollin pushed on with The Nude Vampire, his first attempt at color filmmaking, It wasn’t a huge success, but the film didn’t spark any riots this time.
This year, Kino, in association with the U.K.’s Redemption Films, has begun releasing Rollin’s classic oeuvre on Blu-ray, remastered in high-def from the original 35mm negatives and featuring short stacks of extras, including booklets authored by film essayist Tim Lucas (editor of Video Watchdog). Titles released so far are the above mentioned The Rape of the Vampire and The Nude Vampire, as well as Shiver of the Vampire and Requiem for a Vampire. Also included are The Iron Rose, Rollin’s first non-vampire film; and The Demoniacs; plus, Rollin’s return to sexy vampires, Lips of Blood; and Fascination, by most accounts his most accessible film.
— Todd Doogan