R.I.P. (R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII)
I have participated in a couple of Carl’s (Stainless Steel Droppings) non-challenges over the past 10 months. They are always really fun and very well hosted. During the months of September and October, he is hosting another – Readers ImbibingPeril! If you can believe it, this non-challenge isn’t even over and there are already almost 400 entries. While this is my first, hopefully it will make a bang. I had actually intended to only be able to read Octavia Butler’s, Fledgling, for this challenge, but last night I had the rare opportunity to watch a movie and immediately when searching for something that would fit the bill since the call is open to movies books and…anything really. So I ended up watching Jean Rollin’s The Living Dead Girl.
Reader beware: this is gonna get a little edgy.
The Living Dead Girl Dir. Jean Rollin
Starring Françoise Blanchard, Marina Pierro, Mike Marshall
1982 – Not Rated
Watched it on: Netflix (Instant)
1h 31 m
Originally released as La Morte Vivante, The Living Dead Girl begins when three men apparently, and very irresponsibly, disposing of some toxic chemicals in a crypt (“It has to go somewhere. They used to put it in the lake but it killed all the fish”). Given the proximity of their disposal site to the graves of a prominent heiress, they decide to kill two birds with one stone and fit a little grave robbing in before heading out (makes sense so far).
Before they can stop gawking at how beautiful the corpses are, an earthquake spills their unnamed toxic brew. Where previously the chemicals killed fish, the effects on the dead are much more macabre, namely it wakes Catherine Valmont into a violent and bloodthirsty rage. And when I say bloody, I mean BLOODY…and boy is she thirsty. Valmont goes on carelessly finger-stabbing people in the neck and drinking their blood until her childhood friend finds her and helps her hide the bodies. But the longer Valmont is out of the grave and the more contact with Helene she has, the more she comes to realize the horror of what she must do to continue “living”.
“I’m surrounded by blood!”
In my opinion, the 1970’s and early 80’s were really the heyday of zombie filmmaking, from their social criticism to their unmatched violence, there are very few zombie films outside that era that can frighten and terrorize me like they do. Director Jean Rollin is no exception – but nor does he fit the mold. Rollin made his entry into horror with a series of vampire films in the 60’s. From there he made his way into horror, zombies and pornography. Prior to The Living Dead Girl, I had only seen and loved The Grapes of Death (a.k.a. Pesticide) so I was really excited to watch what I figured would be the last of his films that I’ll ever watch (As hardcore a horror fan as I am, I can’t say I’m much interested in titles like The Nude Vampire).
Sadly, I was pretty disappointed. In The Living Dead Girl, Rollin does what he does best: debilitating remorse, tremendous schlock and really, really alarming eroticism. But he really doesn’t go much further than that and I know he could have. It turned out to just be a rehashing of several of the things that made him (in)famous, including the bloody, horror version of the money shot (compared to Rollin, Hannibal Lecter’s was pretty tame in Silence of the Lambs). Nevertheless, it was still great gore and though the make-up wasn’t the best, you just can’t beat even marginal make-up/effects with computers (I mean, how nasty was The Fly!). And even though I finished it silently critical, you know I double checked the lock on the front door!
While Jean Rollin occupies a very specific space in the history of zombie cinema, if you consider yourself a hardcore zombie/horror fan, Jean Rollin is no doubt on your list to watch and if not, ought to be.
|But he was still able to keep hold the blanket!|
Having been made recognizable by the famous gore hound, Rob Zombie, and also given that it is available on instant watch, you may be tempted to make this your first foray into Rollin’s strange breed of horror (because Rob Zombie influences all your cinematic experiences??).
I would urge you not to do that.
I liked The Living Dead Girl alright, but it has very little new to show the world of zombies/gore and even less to say. Given the choice between The Living Dead Girl and his late 70’s “masterpiece” (I use the word hesitantly) The Grapes of Death instead. Having said that, of the two, The Living Dead Girl adheres more strictly to zombie conventions if that makes any bit of difference to you.