I must confess, I wouldn’t be as much of a movie fan as I am now if it weren’t for…
The Grapes of Death
When the wine flows, the terror begins…
A young woman discovers that the pesticide being sprayed on vineyards is turning people into killer zombies.
I have a rule that if I can not remember the last time I watched one of my favorite films, then it's obviously time for a revisit. When going through some of our foreign DVDs, looking for something to watch, I came across The Grapes of Death and the feeling that came over me, you would have thought I spotted an old flame amidst a sea of possibilities. I couldn't resist the urge to pick it up and watch it, for old times sake.
I think the power Jean Rollin has over me is visceral. As soon as I hear the music on the menu screen, I am transfixed and I have a physical reaction, a favorite movie shouldn't just…
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With its spurts of red blood, its green-yellow sores, and its purple clad heroine, Jean Rollin paints with the colors of a vineyard in "The Grapes of Death." A French horror film that finds zombie-esque masses roaming the French countryside, Rollin eschews his typical gauzy aesthetic and nonexistent pacing for a forward moving, quietly colorful, and mostly engaging genre outing.
The story revolves around a young woman who finds herself alone in a village peopled with the murderous near-dead. Escaping one perilous scrape after another, she teams up with two men to find safety. The narrative combines a typical zombie plotline with threads of a spreading epidemic and environmental themes. It is a compelling, somewhat layered tale.
Rollin's token stillness…
Part of Hell On Earth: Horror Around The World, a 30 Days 30 Countries challenge.
Eighth stop: France
Where has this film been all my life? In fact, where has director Jean Rollin been all my life? The Grapes Of Death is my introduction to the man's work, and for sure I will be seeking out everything else he has done.
Made in 1978, before that other zombie film, which until today has never had anything close to an equal in my book, The Grapes Of Death benefits from being that rarest of zombie films that cannot be viewed through the influential filter of Romero's classic. Notable as one of France's first gore films, Rollin's direction lends it a remarkable…
Coming home from the Languedoc region of southern France to the flat and completely "improved" landscape of the Netherlands is a little depressing, so we thought we'd hold onto the feeling a little with a revisit to a film featuring the countryside we were just enjoying. I had forgotten just how good a film it is - due in no small part to Rollin's excellent use of that amazing landscape, full of ruined stone buildings at various points of the journey, slowly returning to the rocky ground that they look to have sprung from. The performances are also top-notch, with Brigitte Lahaie showing that she's more than just a great body. There's even some clever teasing around the subject of…
This is NOT a zombie film! I doubt the writers and director had any idea what exactly a zombie is when they went forward with this film! It is about the undead.. undead WHAT is the question! The undead exhibit NONE of the characteristics associated with Zombie's!
On the plus side this was ickier than most things I watch and I love how Rollin incorporated the terrain in the shots, but it was trying so hard to work in some sort of allegory (alcoholism, something about immigrants, xenophobia) with far too much exposition that I felt like I was being bounced around between 'eewww, that's awesome!' and 'ugh, c'mon, let's get keep it moving.'
When a woman goes to visit her boyfriend at the vineyard he's working on, her journey is interrupted by the locals who have been turned into zombies by the pesticide used on the grapes.
The Grapes of Death reminded me more of the original Night of the Living Dead than any other zombie film I can think of due to the film's rural setting and the creatures barely threatening nature when encountered alone but being able to quickly overwhelm you when they're in groups. Director, Jean Rollin, uses the french countryside and its ruined villages well to create an atmosphere filled with dread and isolation much in the same way as Narciso Ibáñez…
The Grapes of Death might absolutely be the best Jean Rollin film I've ever seen. Cold, desolate shots of the French countryside backed by an eerie synth score that brings Carnival of Souls to mind help build a genuinely unsettling atmosphere, more so than his past films. Marie-Georges Pascal (who sadly died several years after this film) makes for a competent, beautiful lead unfortunately destined for tragedy as is typical for Rollin's heroines... I really don't want to spoil it but that ending, oh god the feels. Right up there with the most emotional scenes in The Living Dead Girl.
Just a really great piece of obscure, inspirational French horror. Highly recommended along with The Living Dead Girl and Fascination…
George A. Romero applied to the French provinces. Similar to Romero's The Crazies, though the shambling villagers also resemble zombies from Night of the Living Dead, it appears to have something to say about post-industrial farming methods poisoning the land and the peasants having to pay the price. However, these ideas are secondary to Rollins' atmospheric rural landscapes and compositions, religious imagery and disturbed sexuality. A normal day at the office, then, for this director. It's worth a look for those in the mood, but the pacing is deadly and there's nothing much on offer in terms of story or character, despite Brigitte Lahaie's unhinged presence as one of the villagers. It's a long way behind Romero and another ecologically driven zombie movie, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, which has similar ideas but is far more entertaining.
Viewing this, Jean Rollin is becoming one of the best discoveries for me this year, finally going through his work in depth, and he's veering towards becoming one of my favorite directors as well. One deciding factor for this is that, so far, I've yet to see a film that is a rehash of something else, greatly surprised and delighted at how every film I've seen so far is different from the other. This means a lot when my first knowledge of him summed Rollin up someone who spent his time filming low vampire films where the actresses were always naked. What you discover actually watching the films, while the nudity was true, is that even the films that share…
Jean Rollin's unique take on the zombie genre, The Grapes of Death, evokes a sense of dread right from the bleak opening sequence accompanied by a haunting score. The film has that creepy English countryside setting reminiscent of The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. Beer drinkers must love this movie since only the wine connoisseurs get dicked over.
Nothing like watching a Jean Rollin movie to help practise my French: a shlock movie with adult but simple to understand dialogues, all pronounced in a slow and clear fashion. Helps me more than any classroom lesson.
As for the film....
Well, it's one of his less visually appealing flicks though it still has certain moments of haunting beauty.
As for the rest...
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Fantastic gothic, plague-themed, zombie horror film, with a great euro-library synth score. Filmed in the Massif Central region of France, amid natural limestone formations and stone farmhouses, it's a stripped-down, straight-forward survival plot, with atmosphere to spare. With a great mix of gothic imagery, modern eco-horror, and a taste of euro-sleaze, I'm thinking it may be my favorite non-Romero zombie film. It should be noted that it's non-canonical, in that the "zombies" are not revived corpses, do not eat the living, and express grief and regret when they kill.
Contains every horror film made that is not lost and is found on the letterboxd database.
If there is any…
In this list I'm separating the subgenres* within horror from favorite to least, giving five** good examples of each category.…