director Jean Rollin
You know, I’ve really taken a liking to Jean Rollin. I’ve now watched The Night of the Hunted (1980), The Nude Vampire (1970), The Escapees (1981), and now Fascination and I find myself simply further and further intrigued.
Actually, I think I was pretty intrigued by Fascination, maybe from the poster or image of actress Brigitte Lahaie similarly posted with a huge scythe. Or maybe initially I’d read about it and it was just one of those films of Rollin’s that wasn’t available on Netflix.
Whatever the case, I’ve now expanded into the streaming universe via Roku and Pow! it was available.
It’s an odd story, the first of Rollin’s films that I’ve seen that was not a contemporary setting but a historical one. It takes place at the beginning of the 20th Century and involves a thief who hides out in a provincial chateau with a couple of gorgeous ladies. Only it turns out that they are tricking him into staying for what may be a meeting or witches or vampires or just a bunch of ladies who think that drinking blood of a man is a good idea.
Rollin’s films fall into a sexploitation sort of genre, with lots of gratuitous nudity and usually some sort of vampirism. Only, his films also tend to play out a sort of feminist strategy. It’s ironic, I’m sure, but it seems very consistent throughout.
Here, the man with a gun, thinks he is in control of the women. They are his captives and he is holding them until night to make good his escape. Only, in reality, it’s the women who hold the power and he’s not just in the hands of two of them but an entire coven. The patriarchal social structures are misogynistic but the real power is in the women themselves. There is often also a Sapphic element to the women’s relationships, something more than sexual, a sisterhood.
Rollin’s films maintain a simple elegance within their budgetary limitations. I do wonder if he had had the money and cinematography available if he would have somehow achieved something of notoriety along the lines of more “established” or “mainstream” European filmmakers. There is beauty, eeriness, surreality in his work, strange and constantly growing on me.