Jean Rollin achieves what many consider to be his finest work in THE GRAPES OF DEATH, which also serves as one of the first French Gore films. This second dubious honor is a bit misleading, however, as the film is intended to be a surreal fantasy rather than a zombie shocker. A woman returning home to her family's vineyard is horrified to discover that the pesticides being used on the local crops have turned the villagers into the living dead! As is the case in the majority of his pictures, plot and character become secondary to creating a visual canvas (a trait that would carry over into the works of Lucio Fulci). Rollin paints the French landscape in mists, fogs, and dilapidated buildings, which add to the rich atmosphere and eerie setting. His zombies still retain shreds of their humanity, with many of the ghouls begging to be put out of their pain and misery as the rot eats them alive. One of the film's most disturbing sequences finds a blind girl stumbling over the bodies of her dead neighbors as she searches for her family before she is captured, nailed to a door, and beheaded with an axe. While there is some brief nudity, THE GRAPES OF DEATH comes well before Rollin's venture into the softcore sexual thrillers with his long time collaborator Jess Franco. It is an important and influential entry into French Horror cinema.
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THE BEYOND, LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE, FASCINATION.