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Nude Vampire, The (Blu-ray)

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    Ian Jane
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  • Nude Vampire, The (Blu-ray)



    Released by: Kino
    Released on: January 24, 2012
    Director: Jean Rollin
    Cast: Maurice Lemaitre, Caroline Cartier, Olivier Martin
    Year: 1970
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    The Movie:

    Jean Rollins' second feature length film (following Rape Of The Vampire) gets the high definition treatment from Kino (along with The Iron Rose, Fascination, Lips Of Blood and The Shiver Of The Vampires) - a seriously fantastic development for the format and absolutely a gift for fans of the man's films. While The Nude Vampire is far from Rollin's best efforts, it's an interesting look at what was to come from one of European genre cinema's most gifted and fascinating directors.

    The film isn't heavy on plot, but it follows a man named Pierre (Olivier Martin - Jean Rollin's brother!) who becomes involved with a woman (Caroline Cartier) who is constantly being chased by a strange group who hide their faces with animal masks. Pierre's wealthy father (Maurice Lemaitre, who co-wrote The Iron Rose) is on a quest for immortality and so he holds the girl captive as he believes that her blood holds the secret to eternal life. Pierre is in love with her, however, so he sets her free but things don't go as planned and the sect that Pierre's father is involved with turn out to be very diabolical indeed.

    The visual trademarks that Rollin would become well known for (long and lingering shots of empty beaches, gothic architecture, completely unnecessary but rather exquisite nudity) are all prominently featured through the picture. Working in color for the first time in his career, Rollin shows here a natural ability to eschew the confines of black and white cinematography and completely embrace the options that color photography allows. The film looks fantastic, stunning even in certain scenes, allowing us to look past the very obvious constraints of the film's low budget and soak in the strange, surreal atmosphere - of which there is no shortage. Be it the eerie masked characters that populate the film or the loneliness that stems from those shots on the desolate beach Rollin would become so fond of, the film's visuals more than make up for whatever shortcomings might be obvious in the story.

    The film doesn't always make a whole lot of sense but it's an enjoyable romp through graveyards and castles never the less. The title might be a little misleading - there aren't really any nude vampires in the movie to speak of - but the atmosphere, ambience and sheer weirdness make up for that. It's also interesting to see 'the twins' show up here. Rollin would use them in a few different films and they always bring a very alien feel whenever they appear. The finale, where they play a key role, wraps up the fairly obscure plot rather nicely and as a precursor of things to come from the director, The Nude Vampire works rather well.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Kino presents The Nude Vampire in an AVC encoded transfer in its original 1.66.1 widescreen aspect ratio in 1080p high definition. Once again, there's a pretty substantial upgrade in image quality here when compared to the previous DVD releases. The original R1 Image/Redemption disc was flat and bland looking and this high definition presentation trumps it in every way possible. Detail is much stronger, not just in close up shots where you expect it but in medium and long distance shots as well. You'll notice the dripping wax on candles, you'll notice the pilling of certain fabrics and textures and you'll notice the little crags and crumbles of various rock formations along the beach. Skin tones look nice and natural, there's no evidence of noise reduction or overzealous edge enhancement and what we wind up with is a nice, clean, colorful presentation of the movie that still manages to preserve that film like quality that's so important. There are shots that were originally out of focus and shots where the lighting wasn't quite right - this stems back to the original photography and so is inherent in this new transfer - but yeah, Rollin fans should be very impressed with this restoration.

    Audio options are provided in both the original (and preferable) French language and by way of a dubbed English track, both in LPCM 2.0 Mono and with optional subtitles available in English only. The audio is a bit more problematic than the video in that there are occasional pops and level fluctuations in addition to some clarity issues but again, this is a noticeable improvement over that past DVD issue of the film. The movie was made on a low budget and on a quick schedule and as such, some defects will pop up - but for the most part the dialogue is pretty easy to understand and the score sounds fantastic (and for those who haven't seen this film before, the score plays a very important part in the atmosphere that the movie manages to create so effectively).

    Extras start off with a two minute introduction from the late Jean Rollin (with a strange man in a white mask sitting near him), who talks too briefly about his intentions with this film and his motive for making it. More interesting and more substantial is a twenty minute interview with Rollin conducted by Daniel Gouyette who was Rollin's assistant during the later part of his career and who taped quite a few of their conversations. It's from these tapes that this featurette has been created which covers not only this film but Rollin's career in general, the themes and ideas that populate so many of his movies, his interest in atmosphere and surrealism and of course his appreciation of the lesbian vampire overtones that he's always been known for. It's a good discussion and Rollin comes across as very comfortable here. Natalie Perrey, who worked with Rollin for decades and on many of his films, also appears here for a quick four minute interview in which she talks about working with her friend on the film, the small part she played in the movie, and what it was like helping out on this project.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are HD trailers for the feature and for The Shiver Of The Vampires, Fascination, The Iron rose and Lips Of Blood. Animated menus and chapter stops are included and inside the keepcase is a twenty-page full color booklet of liner notes from writer Tim Lucas which do a great job of making the case for the legitimacy of Rollins work and the artistic value of that work and which also do a fine job of detailing his life, times and some of his more popular films. A great addition to the package, this is a solid read and it's nicely illustrated as well. The last page of the booklet contains a brief note from Nigel Wingrove regarding his early 90s efforts to bring Rollin's films to the masses.

    The Final Word:

    Rollin would go on to make better films than The Nude Vampire but this is an interesting early effort from him that definitely foreshadows a lot of what would come later in his career. It's a bit rough around the edges in a lot of ways, but it's also rich with weird atmosphere, sexual tension and beautiful if macabre imagery and Kino's Blu-ray is hands down the best way to experience it on home video.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
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