Jean Rollin

Active - 1958 - 2010  |   Born - Nov 3, 1938   |   Died - Dec 16, 2010   |   Genres - Horror, Adult

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Beginning with his feature debut, the controversial Rape of the Vampire (1967), French horror auteur Jean Rollin gained a loyal cult following for his stylishly gothic exercises in erotic horror.

Born into an artistically inclined family on November 3, 1938, in Neuilly-sur-Siene, France, Rollin's father was an actor and theater director, inspiring both Rollin and his brother to pursue careers in show business. Editing recruitment films during World War II provided Rollin with an entry into film, with the future director finding subsequent work in an animation studio before stepping behind the camera. A scant few years after working as an assistant director in the early '60s, Rollin made his feature directorial debut with Rape of the Vampire. Greeted with outrage and violent protest upon release, the film nevertheless established Rollin's continuing themes of eroticism and vampiric fetish while at the same time finding his visual style developing an atmosphere of otherworldly beauty. Perfecting his unique brand of surreal sexuality and bloodletting with such releases as Requiem for a Vampire (1971), Demoniacs (1973), The Grapes of Death (1978), and The Living Dead Girl (1982), many consider the era of the '70s and the early '80s the period in which Rollin was in his prime as a filmmaker. His films generally relying more on stylized sensuality than coherent plotting, Rollin acknowledged that although the story frequently comes second, it always served as a critical means of bringing out the visual flourishes that have become his calling card. An innovator who can draw strikingly poetic images from a shoestring budget, Rollin's resourcefulness and minimalist direction of actors was complemented by frequent collaborations with such actresses as Brigitte Lahie, Marina Pierro, and Francoise Pascal.

Despite his frequent forays into the realm of straight hardcore and softcore pornography in the 1970s, Rollin continued forward into the new millennium with such traditional and less overtly pornographic efforts as Two Orphan Vampires (1997) and La Fiancee de Dracula (1999). Though for years his films remained seldom seen outside of his native France (and generally in truncated forms if fans were tenacious enough to track them down), the advent of DVD found Image Entertainment and Redemption Video teaming to make uncut and high-quality releases of Rollin films available to fans in both the U.S. and the U.K. in the late '90s. In addition to his work as a director, Rollin also established himself as an author of erotic novellas. He died of cancer in late 2010, at the age of 72.

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