Red, white and black are the signature colors of French visualist and eroticist filmmaker-auteur Jean Rollin (1938 - 2010) and they're very much in evidence in the painterly opening scene of Fascination. Two attractive, aristocratic ladies — one dressed in black lace, one in white — drink the red ooze of the slain oxen hanging all around them in a mausoleum-like abattoir. The pair seeks a cure for their debilitating anemia… but they find only frustration. It's human blood they need… and human blood is what they shall have.
Cut (pardon the pun) to a not so merry band of bandits, as they pursue Marc (Jean-Marie Lemaire) and his money-bags. The blonde brigand narrowly escapes, fleeing to a water-locked chateau, occupied by only by two defenseless damsels. Or, at least he thinks they're helpless… they do little to disabuse him of the notion, distracting him with Victorian-era corsetry, buoyant boobies, red lip gloss, and the batting of their long lashes. While Rollin is often referred to as a maker of erotica (softcore, in his arty horror films; hardcore in his commerce-driven pornography) the sex scenes in Fascination — and, indeed in most of his movies — are pretty, but pallid. Eva (Brigitte Lahaie) and Elizabeth (Franca Mai) are indeed sumptuous, and Georgie Fromentin's cinematography certainly celebrates it, but there's no vicarious stir for the viewer in the ladies' dalliances with Marc.
After some leisurely love-making and snarky wordplay, plus a bit of misplaced jealousy and the subsequently overly dramatic suicide attempt, the love triangle's nest is invaded by the gold-diggers. Not willing to let the fortune disappear beyond the moat, the thieves brave the planks and make their across and onto the small island. They infiltrate the mansion of madness, only to find death awaits them — quite literally. Imbued in all iconic imagery, Eva swings a scythe in her breast-baring cloak and kinky boots, slashing throats and piercing hearts.
Since few watch Rollin for story, I will give a nod to the beauty of the leading ladies, the vast glory of the sets and locations, and the composition of the shots. Moving with equal ease between the soft curve of an au natural knocker to the juxtaposition of the serrated sharpness of a rusty blade, it looks splendid. The 1.66:1 picture, mastered in HD from the 35mm negative, shows grain and focus flubs, all part of the show and organic to the viewing experience. Dialog is clear, subtitles servable, and score's eerily effective.
In addition to the clean-up for Blu-ray is the dirty-down for fans of the fooling around. There are two deleted sex scenes available, plus a featurette entitled "Virgins and Vampires" running 24-minutes. Finally, there are HD trailers for this feature and for Shiver of the Vampires, The Nude Vampire, The Iron Rose and Lips of Blood.
For a classic 70s film touted as exploitation, Euro-trash, and vampiric erotica… there really isn’t much in the way of any of that. But Rollin apologists and completists alike will still flock to this latest offering from Kino Lorbor as they scramble to collect the whole set.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson