Thursday, January 28, 2021 12:59

Jean Rollin RIP

2010, as with any year, hasn’t been all good news for horror.

It is with great sadness that the horror community received word of filmmaker Jean Rollin’s passing earlier this year. Rollin – so beloved of both horror and arthouse fans – had been in poor health for years, but was never discouraged by this. Redemption founder (and curator of the Rollin legacy) Nigel Wingrove told me, “He’d been like that all the time that I’d known him, at death’s door one minute, fit as a fiddle the next. He usually just needed the company of a pretty girl and some money in his pocket and he was fine.”

Pretty girls, usually bloodied pretty girls, are perhaps what Rollin is best known for with titles like The Nude Vampire, Lips of Blood, Two Orphan Vampires and Dracula’s Fiancée to his name. His career didn’t entirely consist of vampire movies, but they were definitely a huge part of his output, and definite favourites with fans. However, his films were very nearly lost to obscurity. Had a certain Mr Wingrove not been leafing through a book on cult cinema – noticing the stunning stills which we’ve probably all noticed too – then those stills might have been our only clue to Rollin’s best work. “I discovered his films from a 1970′s book on vampires by David Pirie called Vampire Cinema. He had devoted pretty a whole chapter to Rollin’s films and it was filled with amazing pictures,” said Nigel. “From there it was a case of tracking down Jean Rollin and doing a deal with him to release his films which at that time (1992/1993) had never been commercially available.” Undeterred by a certain mentality within the UK horror scene which thought that Rollin’s work wouldn’t be appreciated or understood by fans, Redemption repackaged and released a host of hitherto lost films and the rest, as they say, was history. Redemption and Rollin are inextricably linked for many of us genre buffs. “Despite the problems Jean and I had over the years, and we had a lot, Jean always said ‘Thank god for Redemption’,” adds Nigel.

Rollin’s health issues never stopped him taking an interest in filmmaking – in recent years working with female alt-porn directrix Ovidie in 2007’s La Nuit des Horloges and directing his wife Simone in Le Masque de la Méduse last year – and it is a great shame that this enthusiasm has been cut short. However, we have some great examples of his unique brand of Eurohorror still due to us, and Rollin’s relationship with Redemption Films will continue. “I always felt though that he was one of those people who would be more famous dead than alive. Worse though would be that his work just reverted back to a rarefied clique to paw at again,” Nigel explained. “Luckily as Redemption now owns the copyright to all his work, I’ll make sure that Jean’s work is seen by as many people as possible, as I know he would have liked that.” Jean Rollin, RIP, and thank-you for the movies.

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