Review: The Nude Vampire (Blu-ray)

The first title in their new partnership with genre label Redemption, Kino debuts Jean Rollin's atmospheric erotic to Blu-ray for the first time!

  • Director: Jean Rollin
  • Starring: Caroline Cartier, Oliver Martin, Maurice Lemaitre
  • Year: 1970
  • Runtime: 80 Minutes
  • Company: Kino / Redemption
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 1 - 50GB
  • Video: 1.67:1 - 1080p - MPEG 4 AVC
  • Audio: French & English LPCM 2.0
  • Region: A
  • Released: 1/24/2012

There will never again be a director quite like Jean Rollin. The French born filmmaker fused together troves of taboos into his films and largely defined what is known as le cinema fantastique, a foreign genre dealing with horror, fantasy and even science fiction elements. Rollin's films are sublime in presentation and are extremely atmospheric with it's otherworldly dream like settings. Although Rollin passed on in 2010, his impact on cinema and auteur legacy has not been forgotten thanks to these newly released Blu-rays from Kino & Redemption, and boy are they magnificent.
It's clear from the first five minutes of The Nude Vampire (La Vampire Nue) that you are about to experience a film unlike any other. The first images we're treated to involve hooded figures drawing blood from a naked beauty in a lab filled with chemicals and experimental tests. This melding of striking imagery captivates instantly and really sets the mood for what's to come, which is far more fantastical and weird in the best way possible. Pierre (Oliver Martin, director Jean Rollin's real life brother) stumbles upon a terrified scantily clad woman (Caroline Cartier) running from an unknown masked group. After failing to save her, the jarring masked wearers retreat back to a gated mansion with said woman in tow, leading Pierre to investigate. Here Pierre discovers a high class society that willingly dispatches themselves as an offering to said unknown woman, who may be a vampire. This leads Pierre to rescue the supposed "vampire" from the society's clutches, resulting in a finale that ventures to another dimension.
There is a hell of a lot going on in The Nude Vampire, precisely why I immediately (and further solidified with a second viewing) fell in love with it. The mystery surrounding the woman and Pierre's journey to unravel it all is quite captivating and had my interest piqued throughout. The imagery and art direction is a character itself, creating a colorful dream-esque palette that is gorgeously emphasized. A great deal of symbolism is present and with that Rollin gives this film a boost of depth that can and should be marveled at. Then of course there is the dozens of mind shatteringly beautiful European women who bare it all with a tasteful and empowering presence. 
The last line uttered in The Nude Vampire bluntly states, " at any moment...the day of the mutants may arrive." That statement not only pertains to the film, but in my opinion the arrival of outsider cinema that Jean Rollin helped pave the way for. His films show a respect and beauty for the macabre that is undeniably missed in today's cinematic climate. God bless you Jean Rollin and may you rest in peace.

  •  Video
Jean Rollin's films have had a rough time being faithfully reproduced on home video, but the arrival of these newly released Blu-rays is nothing short of stunning. Kino gives The Nude Vampire it's high definition debut with a MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p transfer that is gorgeously jaw dropping. The 1.67:1 framed image has a bit of damage and specks here and there, which hasn't been touched due to Kino's hatred of digitally scrubbing their releases, that's a-ok with me. The image at times is a tad soft at times due to it's production roots, it proudly showcases the era from which it was made. Colors are vivid and vibrant with an abundance of detail on display. This is by all means a fantastic disc and fans everywhere should rejoice.
  •  Audio
The original French audio is included (with English subtitles), as well as an English dub both sporting a Linear PCM 2.0 track. The films dialogue, score and sound effects all sound extremely well in the French mix. Cracks and hisses are present which isn't a surprise nor a detractor if you're a fan of low budget 70's cinema. No

Bonus Features
  • Introduction - Jean Rollin
Rollin gives a short intro to his film, prepping viewers for the feature and giving an insight of his goals on making The Nude Vampire.
  • Interview - Jean Rollin
This 20 minute interview was shot by Rollin's assistant Daniel Gouyette during his tenur as his assistant. Here Rollin speaks in depth about his films, his origins into filmmaking and why he chooses to include many of his well known trademarks. It's wonderful to see Rollin give his take on his films and offer an explanation that only he could provide.
  • Interview - Natalie Perry
Natalie Perry became a frequent collaborator of Rollin's, starring in and even assistant directing on many of his films. Perry reminisces about working with Rollin and her time on The Nude Vampire.
  • Booklet
A 20 page booklet is included from Video Watchdog editor and cinemaphile Tim Lucas offers a smorgasbord of information about Jean Rollin's filmography and his legacy. Lucas's knowledge of foreign cinema is vast, informative and appreciative which makes this a highly valuable extra. This booklet is included with all currently available Jean Rolling titles from Kino, which might be seen as a letdown but the wealth of info on Rollin's filmography will have you re-reading it each time you crack open the case. Also included is a short excerpt from Redemption founder Nigel Wingrove gushing his love for Rollin and his wish that the late director could have seen these releases before he passed.
  • Trailers
Original trailers for Jean Rollin's films are included in their native French language, such as The Nude Vampire, Shiver of the Vampire, Fascination, The Iron Rose and Lips of Blood. Also included is an English trailer of The Nude Vampire.