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THE NUDE VAMPIRE
Blu-ray. Redemption.

The Nude VampireGiven that Redemption Films will be forever linked with the work of Jean Roliin – making available his previous hard-to-see work to a whole new audience in the early 1990s and therefore being responsible for the revival of interest in his films – it’s appropriate that the first five Blu-ray releases under the Redemption imprint should be Rollin films. We’ll be reviewing them all, starting with the first of the collection, the deliriously surreal La Vampire NueThe Nude Vampire.

Rollin’s first colour film, The Nude Vampire is a wild, psychedelic tale that takes full advantage of the medium, keeping the screen awash with remarkable, wild visual stimuli and vibrant colours that positively bleed out of the screen in this remastered version. The visual spectacle is, to a large degree, a replacement for story – the tale of secret societies, sweaty old men seeking immortality, a vampire cult and a remarkably hapless and inefficient hero is little more than a device to hang fascinating imagery on.

The film offers up a mix of crazy costumes, bizarre characters (in most circumstances, the one-dimensional, wooden performances on display here would be a distraction; here, they simply add to the over-arching oddness of the atmosphere) and furious psych-prog soundtrack that propel things along at such a pace that you quickly stop worrying about the plot holes and instead just begin to absorb the whole experience. There are moments where the film slows to a crawl, admittedly – but even then, there is always some arresting moment just around the corner. It’s the product of a comic book imagination, where the visuals are all, and the resulting film is more like a dream than anything.

The Nude VampireIt’s intriguing that this film was made and sold as exploitation, because this is much closer to arthouse sensibilities – you can see hints of the mysteries of Last Year in Marienbad, the work of Godard and more here. As a horror film, it barely works, and as a sex film, it’s even more unsuccessful – there’s relatively little nudity and no sex at all. It’s perhaps understandable that the critics who approached Rollin’s work expecting exploitation have been both confused and, if fans of genre cinema, somewhat disappointed. More fool them, I’d say – for the open-minded, The Nude Vampire is an extraordinary trip into surrealism.

This new release is eye-popping stuff – while still showing signs of age, the vividness of the film has never been clearer. The disc offers the choice of French of English dubbed soundtracks – there’s so little dialogue that either option is acceptable – and also includes video interviews with Rollin and a 20-page booklet by Tim Lucas that is included in all five discs.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (USA)

 

 

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