I fucking hate French film. KNIFE IN THE WATER? It's like a knife in my ass trying to sit still through that shit. REPULSION? Fuck you Polanski, you child-raping midget. CAGED VIRGINS? Keep away from my pet turtle Boxcar you frog-eating sack of shit! Rollin is best known for churning out ‘cult classics' that really aren't. Sure, if you were on cheap acid back in the Seventies and looked up from your girlfriend's hairy bush to see a couple of hippie sluts parading around pretending to be vampires you might have thought, "Cool," and then gone back to catching a beardful of crabs. But the bottom line is that Rollin's films are every bit as tiresome and terrible as his overrated dog-blowing Spanish contemporary Jess ‘Jesus' Franco. (Believe me, if you saw the shit Franco was doing now, shit like RED SILK, you'd find a way to travel back in time, and you'd actually choose to kill him before Hitler.) In short, Jean Rollin sucks retarded turtle dick. Like a pro.
Why am I so steamed at this limp sack of lily-scented toilet water? Well I'll tell you why. Aside from the fact that he's probably pulled a Chipmunk Slide on a whole troop of cub scouts, as occasionally happens in the modern world I got taken. Conned. Screwed out of my valuable free time by not one but two of this needle-dick's ‘cult classic' celluloid miscarriages.
Yes, I'm an idiot. And I'm taking it out on you.
Now, most days of the week I'm a pretty simple man; I work 8-10 hours a day, come home, work out, beat off, grab a shower, wash some fucking dishes, and the rest of the evening is all mine, man. And when not drafting architectural plans for the new Sydney Opera House I like to kick back and catch a bit of fillum. Like most assholes too lazy to go around the corner to the video store I've got a Netflix subscription, and I can get pretty click-happy when filling up my queue. So what do I find in my box one day after work but ZOMBIE LAKE and GRAPES OF DEATH. And that, literally, is like working all day for nothing at all.
We're going to start with ZOMBIE LAKE, because that's the one I saw first. And that really pissed me off. Not only did I go to bed pissed, but I woke up pissed. Fucking ZOMBIE LAKE. And this is coming from a guy who's seen many, many, many shitty films.
We begin with some slut hanging out at a lake house. When the guys from the local gas station don't show up to gangbang her within eleven seconds she strips off her clothing and sunbathes for a bit next to the stagnant lake. She's trim, tan, fit, has a nice little bush and all, but her face looks like she caught a few elbows in the cargo hold on the way over. Either that or she had her cock removed and her tits done first and was saving the face for last. Anyhow, she's butt-ass nekkid right away. A fair enough start alright, I'll give you that. After a time she wades into the fucking lily pad-floating pond (which today would probably provoke tetanus, dysentery and encephalitis) and swims around for a bit. There's some rather decent underwater footage of a naked chick swimming around, but yeah, okay.
Right on time, here comes the first ‘zombie.' Some underwater hairdresser in a vintage coat, greasepaint, and the ass-end of an egg-carton stuck to one eye, its tadpole trail of the director's jissom leaving a slimy trail through the swamp. He's as scary as…as scary as…as scary as a fucking Frenchman. Anyway, he drags the dumb cooze underwater (I'm sorry, did I forget to mention that she crassly tore down a ‘No Swimming – Dead People' sign just before jumping in? Well she did!) and that's the end of her.
The residents of the village nearby are no help at all; they saw her go out to the lake, they know she's fucked, but the best they can do is, "In the morning, if she isn't back, I'll go see the mayor." The mayor is equally helpful: "If she doesn't turn up by tomorrow I'll call the police."
Meanwhile, ol' one-eye leaves the pond for his next meal, a washerwoman and her wheelbarrow. He takes her down, smears her with makeup, spits up blood all over her neck and leaves her for the villagers to find. (And oh yeah – this is a good time to point out, again, the shit-ass makeup work: aside from the uneven greasepaint, this guy's got a piece of fucking masking tape hanging off his face, spray painted fluorescent green. That is some frightening-ass shit right there.) When the villagers do find her corpse they dump her body on the mayor's doorstep, and he doesn't do dick about it except put his hands on a couple little boys who claim to have seen some freaky shit out at the lake earlier.
Soon a worn-out Angie-Bowie lookin' bitch from the city paper shows up and announces that she's writing a story about the "Lake of Ghosts." Visiting the mayor the reporter, Kathryn, hears a story about an episode that took place during World War II. Flashback to a time when all of the buildings and townspeople look identical to the way they do today: a Nazi soldier saves the life of some dizzy wench during a bombing raid, he gets wounded, and she gets pregnant in a cheesy softcore roll in the hay (literally). Fast-forward nine months and hausfrau Hildegard has already shat out her kid, dying soon after, and the villagers stage a very staged ambush on the retreating Germans, killing them all including loverboy.
Into the lake go the dead krauts, only to resurface decades later when lured out by the spontaneous skinny-dipping of a whole vanload of female basketball players. They all get eaten but one, who runs topless into the village screaming, "The lake! The lake!"
NOW the mayor calls the bureau of police, who send over a pair of cynical dicks who refuse to believe there's any kind of supernatural nonsense taking place. As the cops listen to the superstitious ranting of the townsfolk, the crappy green zombies go wandering through the village like a bunch of gay Hulks with AIDS. One of them, the soldier who knocked up the hausfrau, recognizes her house and goes inside to find their dimwitted lovechild. The girl isn't scared by some wet creep painted green just shambling on into her bedroom, partly because she's a dummy but partly because he's wearing the same thrift store necklace she's seen her mother wearing in a photograph.
Wait a minute, time the fuck out; this little girl is maybe eight years old, tops. And while she was conceived in the Forties, she's obviously living in the realm of the Seventies (1980, actually). What the shit?! Way to maintain continuity and plausibility there Jean. Dick.
Anyway, like I said, the police inspectors are having a hard time swallowing the shit they're being fed by the villagers about hungry ghosts eating people. But soon enough they too fall prey to the angry green menace, in a scene that looks more like the uncomfortable beginning of some gay sci-fi porno than a zombie attack.
Said gay zombies now parade through the town, wrecking the bar, scaring underage topless chicks bathing outside in washtubs, and being generally obnoxious before wading back into the pond.
With the wrecking of the bar the mayor finally springs into action: "We'd better face the fact that zombies have declared war. We must find a way to safeguard our town from the mad murdering zombies!" The drunken inbred villagers all grunt their approval and, instead of just dynamiting the goddamn pond already, set out to ambush those nasty Germans one more time.
That night when the zombies crawl out of the lake to attack, the ensuing firefight is horribly pathetic; not only do the zombies easily withstand the mismatched gunfire of the villagers, but one old sweater-wearer shooting at them actually holds up one hand to mince frightfully with as he fires a small pistol at the creatures with the other. A whole lot of nothing takes place, and the Dead Nazis (equal parts Jaegermeister, Rumpleminz and Goldschlager) stumble away to fight another day.
With the rising death toll the little girl, Helena, finally agrees to trick her dead father into leading all the zombies into the old mill for a final massacre. Along the way the undead horde eats the ugly-ass reporter, but once lured into the mill with a handy bucket of tomato bisque the zombies are set upon by the villagers. The motley crew is now armed with a vintage flamethrower, a half-assed contraption spitting out a fiery discharge that randomly sputters and goes limp as if it's got an intermittent case of the clap. But it does do the trick, and many costume jackets and surplus manikins go up in flames. Dummy fondles her costume jewelry, stumbles over her lines, cries a little bit, and, "FIN."
Well that sucked. Nothing like spending an hour and a half in a small shitty world populated by unattractive subnormals. Hell, if I wanted to do that I could take the bus! And don't even start with any of that ‘camp value' bullshit. The zombies don't sing, they don't dance, and only a couple of them wear funny hats. Camp is for people too timid to watch horror films and too stuck up for lowbrow comedy, people who are just biding their time before coming out of the closet. Ninety-nine percent of the time camp = boring and gay; I'd just as soon be locked out of my house and forced to watch a boring gay pride parade. For fucksake, even on fast forward this thing is too long. And you know that ain't good.
Oh, and by the way, no horror movie, ever, should say "FIN." at the end. That's like the waitress offering you a choice of French fries or fruit salad to go with your porterhouse, and you picking the fruit salad. You're a dick, and so is Jean Rollin.
Next up I get the fucking ringworm of all crackerjack prizes, GRAPES OF DEATH. AKA RAISINS OF DEATH. Again: AKA RAISINS OF DEATH. "AKA my dick, Uncle Salty;" unless it's a Will Vinton on crack production this thing is fucking doomed. And I do not see Mr. Vinton's name on this anywhere.
A bunch of frogs are spraying some blue shit all over the vineyard. It's supposed to be a new variety of pesticide, but it's making the workers sick. The foreman doesn't give a tiny rat's ass about that however, as far as he's concerned they're lazy pricks who can just get the hell back to work.
One of the sick workers however, a big dope named Kowalski, is starting to come apart at the face so he jumps a train and scares hell out of some French chick named Elizabeth. Who gets even more scared when she finds that he's murdered her friend. Elizabeth pulls the emergency cord, bringing the train to a shrieking halt, and instead of looking for a conductor or guard Elizabeth bolts into the countryside.
Stumbling upon a ramshackle farmhouse Elizabeth lets herself in and pleads with the owners to help her. They give her a glass of wine, but then start acting a little strange by throwing her into a room with a dead woman. The lady of the house quietly comes in and explains that the dead woman is her mother and her crazy father is the one who killed her. He's got some kind of creeping rash that's driving him fucking nuts; so nuts that when the girl tries to help Elizabeth escape the farmhouse he goes batshit and nails his daughter to the dinner table with a pitchfork.
Elizabeth runs outside, crushes the old man with his own car, and makes her way past one villa populated by runny-faced geeks and into another. After meeting up with a blind woman, Lucy, Elizabeth is led to her village only to find the inhabitants now deceased. Except for the really fucked-up ones, who are tripping around unhappily with what looks like fried cheese falling off their faces. Lucy is desperate to find her husband Lucas and she goes running blindly out into the night to search for him, only to find that he's now a gibbering omelet-faced moron. Who promptly strangles his wife, crucifies her to the door of their house and hacks off her head with a hatchet.
Elizabeth catches sight of that last part, and the horrified girl is then chased around the village's decaying architecture by the horde of freaks. (I don't know if they're technically zombies, but they look like hell and they stumble around like idiots, so they're fucking close enough.) Suddenly she finds herself in the bedroom of some lesbian, who offers her a safe place to hide and a warm cup of vagina. Whoops, spoke too soon; nothing like that warm cup of vagina part ever really happens. Damn. Anyway, the lady is shit nuts too, and when Elizabeth convinces her to try and leave the village with her the lady grabs her and tries to feed her to the creeps.
Just in the nick of time a pair of gun-toting strangers show up and start blasting zombie ass. The lesbian goes down to try and lure them away by stripping naked to prove that she's all right, but Elizabeth's screams bring them deeper into the village where they shoot more ghouls and throw dynamite into people's houses.
While they're tearing ass Elizabeth goes to their car to have a brief catfight with the lesbian, which ends with Elizabeth beating her in the face with a flaming stick. The strangers, Paul and Francois, come back to the car ready to leave, only to see the lesbian get so pissed at having her carpet cleaner steamed that she sets off the dynamite in their back seat, blowing herself and the car to shit in a really badly-filmed explosion.
Elizabeth, Paul and Francois set off for the nearby vineyard of Rabelais, the very place Elizabeth has been trying to reach this entire time in order to visit her fiancé Michael. On the way there Paul and Francois put it together that last week was the grape harvest festival, where everybody drank a lot of wine and wound up "crazy and diseased." Except of course for Paul and Francois, who only drank beer. And Elizabeth, who's from Paris, and is therefore already crazy and diseased.
When they reach the vineyard they find it deserted, but at least the phone works and Francois is able to reach the police. The cops are aware that there's an epidemic of strange behavior resulting from the drinking of contaminated wine, and are in the process of rounding up the ill even now so will be able to send a helicopter for the survivors shortly. This is good news, and Paul and Francois break out the champagne ("Not this year's vintage!") while Elizabeth goes wandering around alone looking for Michael.
She finds him, and not only is he sick too but he admits that it was his pesticide that polluted the wine and drove everybody crazy. His brain is rotting even now, but Elizabeth tells him she loves him anyway and his head starts crying yellow pus. They are together again at last, at least until Paul shows up and shoots Michael with his shotgun. As he examines the body Elizabeth shoots him, and when Francois comes around looking for them she shoots him too. Then she stands underneath a ladder and lets Michael's crazy diseased blood drip down all over her face. Roll credits.
And what a pantload of foolishness that all was. Moral of the story here: don't go to France, and don't drink French wine. Done and done. So a bunch of Frenchies drink some bad wine, turn into whackjobs and run around like idiots; big deal, it happens all the time.
You can tell that this was supposed to be a ‘real' horror movie for Jean Rollin, driving at the heart and soul of French culture with a sharpened warning of environmental awareness. Note to Jean Rollin: just go braid the underarm hair of your jailbait girlfriend, you pate-licking donkey knob, and leave the filmmaking to the professionals and pornographers.
With a little bit of atmosphere and care this could have been a fairly effective "Vineyards Have Eyes" kind of production. What with the dilapidated rural setting, the poisonous insanity of the native population and the naïve outsider up for grabs and all. But instead this is just a fucking frog stomp. Thank you very god-damned much, Jean Rollin. Now I know what the nightmare of an eleven-year-old French hick looks like.
So fuck you Jean Rollin, you snail-sucking dog. I hope you're dead. And if you're not, I picture you bent over in a dirty bathtub, unwashed foreskin between your teeth as you jingle a handful of francs at the halfwit delivery boy who's brought your cheap wine, trying to get him to toss your moldy salad. You fucking old colostomy hole you.