Fascination (1979)

Alas, I’m at the end of this run of Rollins, and if I’ve learned nothing else about him from what I’ve seen of his oeuvre so far it’s that he had a definite knack for finding two things: 1) terrific locations and 2) really interesting female performers. We get both here, and how. Rollin was, at this time, still mired in the hardcore market, but had made one horror film since Lips of Blood; this was apparently commissioned as a fairly straight sexploitation film but the “weird” element took over (Rollin shot without a script again), and though there are still some striking sex moments the film is, in the end, more about the horror than the horn (after all, one of the sex scenes ends with someone being killed). It’s another period story (this set explicitly in 1905), about a thief who betrays the other members of his gang, and hides out in an isolated mansion to try and escape them; the only residents are two women he thinks he can lord it over them easily, but they’re made of stronger and stranger stuff, as are the other women coming to join the party that night. Brigitte Lahaie stars, this is the first film I’ve seen her in and she is quite something, especially during that business with the scythe; but it’s the overall mood and atmosphere of the film that’s quite striking, a combination of the remarkable location (with its moat and bridge) and the photography and the music as well, one of the most interesting scores in the Rollin canon. Again, it was a financial disaster cos the distributor abruptly cancelled the film’s bookings, but the film survives as one of Rollin’s best-regarded films, and with some good reason. Perhaps I can’t always clearly describe what draws me into his films, but I do know I can’t wait for Kino Lorber to release their next batch…

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