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Redemption & Salavation Review Explosion Part 2

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Posted 21st April 2009 at 08:21 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

Iron Rose

A rather more obscure entry in the Jean Rollin's canon of arty 70s horror movies that drops the dreamy lesbian softcore and vampiric Gothic of his more famous efforts for fog shrouded, creeping menace and bloodless terror. Following a tiring bike ride a young couple on a romantic date sneak into a abandoned tomb to make love but they find themselves trapped for the night surrounded by the graves and crypts of a huge cemetery. They frantically try with increasing panic to escape from the brooding, haunted graveyard but as each attempt proves fruitless, hysteria takes over and their dreadful fate soon becomes apparent...

A surreal and nightmarish psychological terror trip rather than a straight up horror movie, Iron Rose, works because of it's ambiguity. Is the fear all in the couples heads or are they facing a paranormal enemy? The grey, bleak shooting style with it's dismal beaches, forbidding railway stations and general sense of industrial rot, provided by the miserable french town the movie was shot in, aid the cloying atmosphere while the slow spiral into madness and fear is handled expertly. Iron rose may perplex fans of more instantly accessible, bloodier horror but as with all of the directors movies, underneath the exploitation and sleaze there's a work of real cinematic art...

Dracula's Daughter

Spain's king of tawdry sexploitation and horror, Jess Franco, takes a break from the Women in Prison genre and returns to his other love the sex fuelled vampire movie, in this low budget French production from 1972. Cue zoom happy camera work, shaky plots and lesbian bloodsuckers engaging in softcore groping and sapphic bloodletting. Franco regular Howard Vernon and the filmmaker himself star in this grindhouse shocker in which a young woman travels to see her ailing grandmother on her deathbed. The fading old woman reveals that their family carries a terrible curse - There is vampirism in their line and a related fiend is lurking amongst the towers of their castle. This awful news doesn't faze our plucky heroine and she is soon ensconced in the creepy gothic towers of her ancestral home. But...a series of horrific blood draining murders plague the nearby town and the people want answers. Soon fingers start pointing towards the scariest building in the neighbourhood...

Franco piles on the low rent Hammer horror style thrills in this straight up, entertaining slice of exploitation that was clearly made to grab a piece of the erotic vampire pie. The big studios were upping the amount of sex in their Dracula flicks at the time with lesbian vamps being especially popular. Of course, independent B movie producers could afford to take the sex angle further than the mainstream so the early 70s are awash with these kind of flicks and this is a good example of the style.

Grapes of Death

Jean Rollin takes a break from his usual lesbian vampire material to bring us this surreal, gruesome and atmospheric take on the zombie genre, a style in vogue with exploitation film makers when this was made in the late 70s. As is to be expected in a film by the French master of oblique horror, this has a pace that might be politely described as stately but which might drive impatient viewers to distraction. However, for horror fans accustomed to the stranger corners of euro-cult movies, Grapes of Death is a real find. Star Brigitte Lahaie is a woman on holiday whose relaxing getaway is violently disturbed by an unfortunate outbreak of Zombies (...Will her holiday insurance cover this?). Further investigation leads her to the local winery where noxious pesticides are being used on the grapes. Could this be the cause of the undead outbreak?

A nicely Gallic take on the ecological origin story so often used in Zombie movies, as France's national drink becomes the cause of a hideous gut-munching outbreak. Rollin pulls off an interesting take on this oversubscribed genre, bringing his trademark bleak beauty to the proceedings while ladling on the blood. This is a highly recommended introduction to a simultaneously fascinating and trashy director.

Playgirls & the Vampire

Swinging early 60s sexploitation kitzch featuring a title that pretty much sums up the whole enterprise. Five nightclub dancers and their two male escorts hole up in a dark, foreboding castle after being caught in a terrible storm. Lacking any money to pay for bed and board, they treat their host, Count Kernassy, to free a striptease show instead. In typical vamp movie style, the count notes an uncanny resemblance between dancer, Vera, and Margherita, the great love of one of his ancestors.

This stuff seems to happen in gothic horror movies all the time. The dead relative in question isn't resting to soundly though...because he's a blood sucking undead fiend so it's time for a lot of wandering around dark corridors and a big dose of sleazy vampire action. This movie ticks all the grimy Eurotrash boxes with a cheesy score, weird performances and gratuitous nudity. Although it's no classic by any stretch, it still maintains a certain Drive-in movie charm.
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