The Shiver of the Vampires (1971)

Jeremy Richey, who runs the Fascination: the Jean Rollin Experience blog, calls The Shiver of the Vampires Rollin’s “first masterpiece”, which assessment I am quite happy to accept. While I obviously haven’t seen quite enough of the Rollin oeuvre to make such a call myself (though I will be examining the other films currently on DVD via Kino Lorber over the next couple of days), I can still see that Shiver evinces a further advance in technique over the previous two films. The production seems to have been fairly happy, cos he had the financial backing of one Monique Natan who had refused to fund a number of much bigger nouvelle vague names in the past. Rollin’s vampires are a bit more traditional this time round; the story is that of two newlyweds, taking a brief detour before the honeymoon to visit two cousins of hers that she hasn’t seen in years, and obviously the news of their recent deaths comes as a surprise. Not half as surprising, though, as their apparently ongoing existence. Years of hunting vampires has caught up with them in the worst possible way… The smaller cast suits the story well, and whatever else you may say about the film there’s no gainsaying how great it is to actually look at; the camerawork, and the use of lighting and colour, are really quite stunning. It’s just beautiful to look at in the way films (especially European ones) of the late 60s to early 70s tend to be. This is one of those films whose reputation should rise now that there’s such a good digital edition of it available. Alas that Monique Natan died in a car accident not long after the film came out, otherwise Rollin’s career might have been a bit less blighted by producer interference and the need to pay the bills by making porn…

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