A young woman discovers that the pesticide being sprayed on vineyards is turning people into killer zombies.Jean Rollin’s “Grapes of Death” is a refreshing living dead poem, and an effective low key horror film from France’s gentleman auteur. —IMDb
Ever since his feature debut with the controversial Rape of the Vampire (1967), French horror auteur Jean Rollin has gained a loyal cult following for his stylishly gothic exercises in erotic horror.
Born into an artistically inclined family on November 3, 1938, in Neuilly-sur-Siene, France, Rollin’s father was an actor and theater director, inspiring both Rollin and his brother to pursue careers in show business. Editing recruitment films during World War II provided Rollin with an entry into film, with the future director finding subsequent work in an animation studio before stepping behind the camera. A scant few years after working as an assistant director in the early ‘60s, Rollin made his feature directorial debut with Rape of the Vampire. Greeted with outrage and violent protest upon release, the film nevertheless established Rollin’s continuing themes of eroticism and vampiric fetish while at the same time finding his visual style developing an atmosphere of otherworldly… read more
My first Rollin. Immediately queued up three more after I finished watching this one. The film exists as a near-perfect evocation, rendering, making present of a time and place through "the flicker of film"--a time and place that seems both rooted in the "real" world (i.e., real countryside and vineyards and ruins in France in 1978) and in a filmed (filmic) dream. People use "oneiric" all the
time to (rightly) describe certain gialli, or Lewton's horror films, or stuff like *Shock Waves* and *Night of Death* and *Tombs of the Blind Dead*, but this, in addition to being "dream-like" in ways similar to those movies, also manages to access something else. Something that seems both timeless (the ruins staggered across the countryside, the statuesque strange woman in the night with two enormous dogs on her lead, the farmer's dead wife wrapped like a zombie in the upstairs bedroom) and modern (the attack on the emptied train, the makeshift gas masks being used at the vineyard [in fact the whole opening scene at the vineyard that plays over the credits], the political debate that takes place as the survivors seek help, the use of gore [used in ways that remind me of other "modern" zombie masterworks, like Fulci's *Zombie Flesh Eaters*] etc.).
Four stars for peculiar rhythm, for tone, for the (incredibly off-putting) score, for the landscape, for everything. Not the kind of film you ought to set your clock by, but the kind of film that will straight up clean your palette. Maybe the only Rollin film (except the proto-Cronenberg "Night of the Hunted"?) that can actually ground you.
A serene euro-trash beautiful locales horror flick? Hell, I fucking fancied the shit out of it! This is one of Rollin's better made movies. The score that creaks in is killer. I know that Terrance Malick was inspired by this movie to make Tree of Life. This claim isn't base on any fact or reason but is still truth!