Sometimes, I feel that there are only two types of people in the world. There’s the minority who appreciate the dreamlike atmosphere and sensual obsessions that dominate the vampire films of French director (and genius) Jean Rollin.
And then there’s the majority who don’t. We refer to this majority as being “the idiots.”
As for me, Jean Rollin is one of my favorite directors. I’ve previously reviewed his low-budget masterpiece, Night of the Hunted, on this site. I hope, in the future, to review even more of his films.
For now, I’d just like to share a scene from one of his later films, the hauntingly beautiful and elegiac Two Orphan Vampires.
Rollin is a director best known for spending the past five decades making films in which he continually and obsessively returns to a few key themes: the importance of memory, a nostalgia for the innocence of youth mixed with the knowledge that youthful innocence could also be destructive, a fascination with the beach, an obvious love of architecture (Rollin films old castles the way that an American director might film an action sequence), and — most notoriously — the use of two female protagonists who are usually portrayed as possessing a very strong, sister-like bond even though it’s rare that they actually are blood-related.
A good deal of Rollin’s current following comes from men who feel that there’s an erotic element to Rollin’s portrayal of female friendship. And to an extent, they’re right. But to an even greater extent, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of why the relationships between Rollin’s protagonists exists, the important thing is that they are portrayed as sharing an unbreakable bond. Whether they’re linked by lust, friendship, or just memory, Rollin’s women are bonded by a very true, very real love and that’s what makes his movies special to me.
This is what the scene below is all about. The two orphan vampires of the title are two teenage sisters. During the day, they are blind but when the sun goes down, they can not only see but they become vampires as well. Two Orphan Vampires is a surprisingly sad and haunting look at their attempts to survive in a world that has no place for them. In the scene below, after failing in several attempts to get the blood they need to continue to live, each sister resorts to drinking the blood of the other. To me, every thing that Rollin had directed before was leading up to this scene.
(This scene is also prototypical Rollin in that the budget is obviously low, the actors are more than adequate but, at the same time, are obviously not professionals, and the English dubbing is poorly done. And yet the scene itself — especially when seen in the larger context of both the entire film and Rollin’s movies as a whole — is actually more sincere and memorable than the majority of what is produced by the mainstream. In short, this is pure Rollin in that you either get it or you don’t.)