Saturday, October 30, 2010

Horrorthon 2: Day Twenty-Eight: The Grapes of Death (Jean Rollin, 1978) -- B

The Grapes of Death proves Jean Rollin's understanding of the horror genre and his ability to be innovative while remaining reverential. Rollin is indebted to films ranging from House of Dracula to Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, yet he exports a 70's art house aesthetic as his visual style. It is, in essence, a pastiche, but Rollin cleverly disguises this through distinct narrative ingenuity, even if the beats and plot points are clearly generic. A pesticide is being sprayed onto the grapes of a vineyard in order to turn those who drink the wine into zombies, thus making them slaves to the grapes - more proletarian workers to harvest the fruit needed for bourgeois luxury. A young woman named Elisabeth (Marie-Georges Pascal) traveling to see her boyfriend, discovers the plot after confronting one of the zombies on a train. She then works to expose the plot, to muddled success. Nothing within the narrative really matters, as Rollin's film is, at heart, exploitation, using the broadly drawn allegory for gore effects (well done), female nudity (always welcome) and zombie slumbering (eh). The sum product succeeds because of Rollin's vacillation between various modes, even if there are periods of flat-footed dialogue inspiring viewer disinterest.

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