Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grapes of Death (1978)

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.

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 2.

If you liked GRAPES OF DEATH, check out:
THE BEYOND, LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE, FASCINATION.



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9 comments:

  1. I've always been particularly keen on seeing this Rollin film. Although I was bit disappointed with his other walking dead effort Zombie Lake, this seemed to be a much more enjoyable flick. Particularly for the moody atmosphere and settings that you mentioned. Great review!

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  2. I was a bit hesitant to buy this when it first came out, but picked it up for $20 at Best Buy. It was one of a few times I wished I'd of passed on a title, but the decapitation scene and the beautiful frame of Bridgitte Lahaie made it bearable. I did like how some of the zombified villagers cried, or appeared to not want to kill people and or their family members.

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  3. This was my first Rollin film, after hearing Jenn (Calavade of Perversions) obsessing over his work, but honestly I wan't overly blown away, which could have alot to do with the overly sureal atmosphere, he chooses to shoot the film in, which makes it so hard to get into, rather than adding anything to the film, unlike the way this style of filming was used in Fuluci's "The Beyond".

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  4. Grapes of Death friggin' rules. The whole movie is this banal, ethereal nightmare punctuated by moments of gore. Cool review, duder.

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  5. I think Fulci created the seminal fantasy zombie film in THE BEYOND, but I do enjoy the dreary landscape here. The sad zombies always stuck with me, all they want is a little death, is that so much to ask for?

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  6. Thanks dude, have a great one!

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  7. My favorite part is where our heroine is leading the blind girl through town and trying not to tell her about the corpses. It's so tragic and entrancing.

    Yeah, the random, naked chick is good too.

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  8. I am right there with you Alec, that scene really sticks out more than anything else

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