Like many of you, I was completely enamored with The Witch, especially the ethereal qualities and the feelings it evoked…
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…
And THIS is why I love Letterboxd so much. ♥
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…
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…
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…
One of the reasons I love Jean Rollin is purely for his ability to take a camera and shoot the beautiful landscapes and ruins of France and make them almost ethereal. The story is simple, the backdrop is stunning and The Grapes of Death has a way of transporting me to France in the 1970s. It's my favorite film.
Another melancholy gem from the gruesome mind of Jean Rollin. It is always interesting to see any filmmaker become more pessimistic, as reflected in the stories he tells as he gets older. It's even more interesting (and grotesque) when it is a horror filmmaker like Rollin.
A simple, mesmerizing little french horror film that makes me think of a more surreal Night of the Living Dead, but set in an even more rural location - the beautiful french countryside. The lack of background for the female main character didn't bother me that much, I think anyone will be able to relate and sympathize with her considering the situation. Has a sweet soundtrack though sometimes it feels a bit misused and/or abrupt - would loved to hear it more. The running time is about 90 minutes which I think is perfect for a movie like this. I never felt that it dragged on too long.
IMO definitely Don't miss out if you like things like;
+ Night of the Living Dead,
+ French rural landscape
+ Early 70's "synth:ish" soundtrack
+Zombies (well, kind of)
+Simple & compact stories
The phrase "dream-like atmosphere" is one that's thrown around a lot, particularly in the horror genre. A lot of the time it's used to describe a film with dream logic, which isn't quite the same thing (not a great example but one everyone will recognize: A Nightmare on Elm Street is a movie with dream logic, but not really a consistent dream-like atmosphere). The Grapes of Death, however, is an example of a film with a pervasive and perceptible dream-like atmosphere.
The most obvious examples are the haunting shots of the empty countryside, or deserted gothic buildings, small villages, covered in thick layers of fog, quiet, beautiful music playing in the background. But everything in this film feels a few degrees separated from reality, in a way that's not really easy to articulate. The Grapes of Death isn't particularly frightening, but there's some quality it possesses which makes it incredibly difficult to turn away from.
Perhaps a film this straight-forward just doesn't suit Jean Rollin's style, as I found the much lauded auteur's work here a bit underwhelming. The much acclaimed dreamy, surreal and arty qualities are completely relegated to small moments sprinkled throughout, and as a zombie movie it just might be the most matter of fact and least exciting ever made. This is no one's idea of scary.
What elevates this, beyond the aforementioned small moments sprinkled throughout, is how complicated these zombies are. Most zombie movies give no consideration to the psychology of a zombie. They're just motorized meat, made-up monsters constructed to fly into pieces or to tear the living into pieces. In this film, they are miserable, violently requesting to…
I basically watched this because (a) Hollie Horror had good words to say about it here and (b) I was interested in giving Jean Rollin another chance.
And despite the corny (or sour, if I want to pun) title, this is a very effective movie. Rollin might not have had a big budget, but the locations he uses are perfect for a zombie movie and he uses his cheap gore effects well. The nightmarish (if episodic) story is anchored Marie Georges Pascal, who manages to make the normal horror movie heroine behavior come from a sense of shock instead of bad or lazy writing.
I know it seems like I'm giving a lot of backhanded compliments, but Rollin and his…
Jean Rollin tried his hand at making his very own zombie film,which ditches his heavily sexual themes(even though there is some on-screen nudity) for a more subtle NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD inspired yarn about a young lady(Marie Georges Pascal[THE GRANDDAUGHTER'S MOEL,I AM FRIGID...WHY ?]) travelling from Paris on a vacation to the French countryside,where the town she was heading to is infected with a massive plague that has been caused by a poisonous pesticide that has been sprayed on the land's grape crops and the after effects has transformed the town's many citizens into badly deteriorating homicidal zombies. With blood drenched corpses laying everywhere,Pascal looks for a place to hide until at the grim finale she finds out that…
Isolation. Hysteria. The undying fear of death. The dread of thinking about it. The neverending and disappearing act of feeling loved. Jean Rollin’s The Grapes of Death is a shockingly annotated masterpiece gushing with scared human emotions, boiling exquisitely until it's melancholy finale.
It does horror differently than a handful of other zombie flicks out there. The gore is short and sweet and shocking; depraved and vile, but absolutely important to displaying the insanity the film’s epidemic conjures out of its victims and it's mesmerized viewers.
Les Raisins de la Mort is Jean Michel Rollin more intimate and languishing take on the zombie apocalypse.
While the first 30 minutes are absolutely insufferable with some bad acting, irritating dubbing, dumb characters, dated practical and technical effects all around, the film slowly evolves into this curious and tragic quest for survival by the land of the living dead.
Jean Rollin does have an eye for great photography and following Élisabeth played by Marie-Georges Pascal through the various rural landscapes as she stumbles upon new encounter one after another, backed up by a minimal light-hearted score and a touch of melodrama becomes this intriguing yet enjoyable cinematographic experience and a welcome addition to the horror genre.
It's worth noting I'm fluent in french and I've lived in France, the foreign aspect some people enjoyed is lost on me.
The 2016 (2nd) edition of the list. You can see the original and more info here.
With a list of…