Fascination: The Celluloid Dreams of Jean Rollin (2016)

9781909394230

I’ve got to be honest when it comes to Jean Rollin and Eurohorror in general. It’s a blind spot for me. Sure, I’ve seen tons of Italian horror flicks and love ’em, but as far as gothic/creepy castle type Eurohorror it’s not a big draw for me. I’ve only seen The Grapes of Death and Zombie Lake by Rollin and according to this book, neither are good representations of the body of work Rollin was known for. I’m not alone in this. Author David Hinds concedes that for most horror fans, Jean Rollin’s work goes unseen. Rollin is often compared to or confused with Spanish director Jess Franco, despite the fact that Rollin is French. I know I’ve made the same mistake myself. Fascination: The Celluloid Dreams of Jean Rollin sets the record straight on the director and schools ignorant film fans (read: me).

Writer David Hinds makes no bones about it: he loves Jean Rollin’s films. His writing on the subject in the first few pages practically gushes his love all over the paper (which could be why the book has an odd but pleasant sweet aroma). From there he spends time writing about his life, his upbringing and how get got into film, as well as his aesthetic and influences for about 60 pages or so. We are then treated to lengthy reviews on each and every one of his films, including his hardcore films, short films, and unfinished works. The reviews not only comment on the style and success (or lack thereof) of the film from an artistic point of view but also goes into the history of how the film was made and background cultural information that may have had an influence. To put it simply, each review is very thorough. The book finishes off with a full interview with Rollin, who has since passed away. The reviews themselves are annotated with footnotes from other interviews with Rollin. The guy did his homework for sure. The book is printed in black and white and features numerous stills from Rollin’s films throughout.

For Jean Rollin fans this is a must buy. If you like the films, you should own this book. It’s informative and written by a person with obvious passion for the films. I will say that he isn’t slavish in his love however. He’s willing to admit when a film was a failure so the book is pretty balanced as well. I doubt anyone will ever write a more thorough and definitive book on Rollin, especially since he has now passed on. For those uninitiated in the cult of Rollin but are curious, it’s a good buy as well. I like to be informed on the films I watch before, during or right after watching them and this book gives the goods.