The Song of Rollin

Louis Feuillade meets Bob Guccione in the work of Jean Roland, a Eurotrash master who took advantage of the waning days of the softcore sex film in the 1970s to create a series of almost impenetrably personal horror films with titles like “The Nude Vampire” and “Lips of Blood.” The frequent nudity and intimations of kinky sex we probably meant to keep the customers reasonably content while Rollin explored his fixations — a childhood trauma that apparently occurred at a rocky Briton beach; a taste for decaying provincial chateaux, overgrown cemeteries and abandoned apartment blocks; and a heady mix of fear and desire centered on female bodily fluids. Rollin seems to have attracted little notice from the French critical establishment (although Michel Delahaye, a prominent Cahiers critic, appears in some of his early films), but in the last decade he has been rediscovered by the dedicated members of the cult horror community. A collection of five Rollin films, mastered from the original camera negatives, has been issued by Kino International in both Blu-ray and standard editions and they are well worth a look, particularly as illuminated by the perceptive program notes by Tim Lucas. My New York Times review is here.

102 comments to The Song of Rollin

  • Abdul, thank you very much for your contribution. Jean-Francois Rauger at the Cinematheque Francaise is very symapathetic toward filmmakers like Rollin and his ilk and I sense his fine hand behind this very interesting program.

    The French polar obviously owes quite a bit to its American cousin — I believe Francois Guerif says that the tradition began in France only after the war slowed down the flow of American noir novels to be translated, thus opening the way for Auguste Le Breton (Rififi) and Albert Simonin (“Touchez pas au grisbi”) to take up the slack with their gangsters a la francais. But one could probably make an argument for France as the country of origin for the modern spy thriller — both the Lemmy Caution series (though based on British novels) and OSS 117 predate James Bond.

  • “I hope these reflexions are relevant and excuse again my poor written English.”

    I second Barry. This is very informative and I hope you post often.

    By the way, it’s an honor to hear from the distinguished author of “Al Azif.”