The Iron Rose (1973)

Jean Rollin himself called this his strangest film, and I see no reason to dispute his own assessment of the film. I will concede that I am glad of two things: one, that it’s only 80 minutes long, and two, that this wasn’t my introduction to Rollin. And it could’ve been, cos I see a few critics calling it his “purest” film, in which he was determined not to make even the few commercial concessions he’d made on Requiem for a Vampire, and in this quest he surely succeeded; whether or not the film does is something I’m not sure of. The idea here was to make a film that was (mostly) about just two people, specifically a young man and woman who meet at a wedding reception, go for a bike ride, have a romp around a cemetery, and inadvertently get locked in. At night. What happens next is left open—does she go mad, is she possessed by some sort of malevolent force, etc—although “happens” seems like the wrong word, cos so little really “happens” as such. I’m only filing this under “horror” cos I don’t know what else to do, it is certainly far closer to arthouse cinema than anything usually recognised as horror. Francoise Pascal as the girl is fine, Hugues Quester as the boy is less so; while she apparently had a great time, he seems to have hated it from the get-go (he eventually insisted upon being credited under another name), and to some extent this is reflected in their respective performances, but other things about the film struck me as not really working properly. I really don’t know what to make of this, to be honest. Whatever else the film may have been, it was an unquestionable box office disaster that pretty much changed Rollin’s career; slightly more financially rewarding fields were calling him…

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