Rollin in his usual mode impresses with place, color, dreamlike reverie. His women are unappealingly scrawny and bland, but his teasing of the cinematic imagination works for me enough to want to step in his ether - his films feel much less constructed than what passes as sensual these days, the night air and architectural walls of the thing always feel real, the texture real.
The film opens with a distraught ‘virgin’ being followed in dark streets by mysterious masked figures, everything in the film that is of that same somnambulist quality carries resonance and I would not dissuade you from watching. It really is fine in ways that you will seldom see in a horror film and that Kubrick bombastically killed in Eyes Wide Shut (it breathes here).
But damn it all to hell, if he isn’t utterly inept as a storyteller and ruins every pleasure of touch. I don’t mean that he wants to confound logic, I like that he does. I welcome filmmakers of the sort - Lynch, Ruiz, Zulawski, those who tether you to narrative threads you have much less control of than usual then pull and leave you scudding through the shattered story-parts.
It’s quite the opposite with Rollin. Though the world feels real, the interplay of story dynamics is cartoonish at best. Every initially baffling element has to be explained in due time, and each explanation is dumber than a sack of rocks. He is not illogical in the sense that we cannot fathom more than bits of a deeply inscrutable world, quite simply he jots down a coherent story from a few absurd/fantastical elements then gives it to us in conveniently random ways.
In this case, the movie about vampires is a horror show being put on, the vampires are only vampires because we believe they are. This is repeatedly stressed out for us.
The point of all this is apparently the celebration of the rigor and ‘purity’ of youth, remember those where the Vietnam years, who in Rollin’s garbled set of metaphors, are equated with a mutant race of immortals.
Rollin’s problem is that he is not content to be a perfume master who seduces the senses, he wants to be a bit like the meditating mentor in this film, someone who promises initiation into the ‘hidden dimension’ of truths, when in reality he is like the villain of this.