Prior to his death in 2010, French director Jean Rollin churned out more than 50 movies during the course of a six-decade career. A couple of years ago, Kino Lorber reissued several of his best-known movies to much fanfare. On Oct. 29 and 30, the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque will screen four of them as part of a tribute dubbed Cinema Fantastique.
"I haven't shown his movies before," says Cinematheque director John Ewing. "When Kino Lorber released his films on video, the New York Times reviewed them as did Film Comment and Sight and Sound. I started looking him up. He made something like 50 films. I have a fairly new film encyclopedia, and he was listed in there. I found lots of references to him. He did have a definite following. I like the fact that he was influenced by the surrealists and by silent cinema."
The Cinematheque plans to show The Shiver of the Vampires (Oct. 29), The Iron Rose (Oct. 29), Fascination (Oct. 30) and Lips of Blood (Oct. 30). Known as one of Rollin's most inventive movies, The Shiver of the Vampires centers on a couple that has a run-in with the undead. The highly erotic flick features a spooky film score and plenty of nudity. Cincinnati-based film critic Tim Lucas praises its "poetic images" and "surrealistic sequences."
"They're very low-budget films but inventive and sexy and even scary," says Ewing, who adds that the Cinematheque wanted to do something other than screen Night of the Living of the Dead for Halloween. "I think I have whittled it down to the essential four. He seems to be taken seriously in that people in Europe wrote about him. He was a true auteur who struggled to make the movies he wanted to make. He had a big impact on true cinephiles and the surrealists. I do love movies of that era — the '60s and '70s — simply because things were opening up and filmmakers were experimenting."