Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Grapes of Death (Les Raisins de La Mort) (1978)

In The Grapes of Death (Les Raisins de La Mort) (1978), a pesticide is turning people into zombies. They are not Romero-style zombies; instead, their flesh is slowly melting, it almost pours off of their frame. Elizabeth is riding a train en route to her fiance, who works at a vineyard. She is chased off the train by a zombie. She flees into the woods and encounters many persons, some infected and some not, as she struggles to get back to her fiance.

Jean Rollin's films, to me, more closely resemble fairy tales than horror movies. There's a magical quality to his work, and his camera is attuned to the wonder of the world. Even the grotesque has an element of beauty and fascination to it. Rollin's films are not scary, because he is not frightened by the world; he is enchanted by both the dream-like and nightmarish qualities.

Beautiful photography and natural settings. Sparse cast of characters, isolated and lonely as only a Rollin film could be. Once Elizabeth leaves the train, she enters a forested environment that is almost timeless. Unlike Rollin's vampire films, this one is largely devoid of sexuality. An environmental and humanist fable, The Grapes of Death is unique in Rollin's body of work. It is one of my favorite films of his.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these beautiful reviews of Jean Rollin's films. Indeed, they are fables, they stem from gothic stories (like Poe's), but are "poisoned" with that unique Rollin flavour that is so otherworldly and unlike any other. It's good to see there are people who see the same qualities in his films and appreciate them as much as I do. Take care, MB