måndag 16 mars 2020

Mitt snack med Jean Rollin

Veckans pressvisning av A QUIET PLACE 2 är inställd, eftersom premiären i USA skjutits upp på grund av det där viruset. Veckans övriga premiärer struntar jag i. Men det var ju ett tag sedan jag skrev om något här på TOPPRAFFEL!

Jag kom att tänka på vår gamle vän Jean Rollin. Och jag kom att tänka på intervjun jag gjorde med honom när han besökte Fantastisk Filmfestival i Lund 2008, två år innan han gick bort. Jag gjorde intervjun till engelska The Dark Side, men den publicerades aldrig där, det hände något med utgivningen, jag minns inte vad. Tidningen finns kvar än idag, så den lades ju inte ner.

Min långa artikel försvann viden datorkrasch, men några år senare hittade jag delar av själva intervjun. Jag sammanfogade dessa bitar till ett slags rekonstruerad intervju, och resultatet publicerades på en amerikansk sajt i början av 2000-talet. Denna sajt finns inte heller kvar. Så - för att bevara texten återger jag den här, på TOPPRAFFEL! Jag har inte brytt mig om att översätta den till svenska. Men ni kan väl engelska. Ni ska vara glada över att den inte är på franska. Nu kör vi:
I’m one of the co-founders of Fantastisk Filmfestival in Lund, Sweden. When we planned the very first festival back in 1995, we discussed retrospective series to screen and directors to invite. One of my suggestions was French director Jean Rollin, famous for his lyrical and erotic vampire movies from the 1970s. The other guys didn’t agree, Rollin’s movies were deemed to weird; nobody would go and see them, nobody knew who the guy was.

I quit the festival in 2000, but things sure changed -- more and more people discovered Jean Rollin’s body of work, there were books published about him, his movies were even released on DVD in Sweden, and in 2008 he was invited to the festival. Since I’m such a big fan, I was asked to introduce the movies and discuss them with the director live on stage after the screenings, which I did. 

I also did a lengthy interview with Rollin. Well, it was more like a long, nice conversation with the French master. I did the interview for a British magazine, but unfortunately, the mag ceased publishing before it was printed. And then my article disappeared, I think it was accidentally erased. Shame, since it was a long, good interview.

However, I found a few bits and pieces of the interview. So, I tried to recreate parts of my old article. This is version is far from complete, but I think it’s nice to finally make something out of our chat.

Jean Rollin, who was born in 1938, was very frail at the time of this interview, he had recently undergone surgery. But he was a very nice man who spoke English rather well. He passed away in 2010.

Me: So, from where did you get the inspiration for your movies?

Rollin: Well, from several things I grew up with. Like the comics. I used to go to the Central Station in Paris and by all the latest comics. (Points at my skull ring) For instance, I really liked The Phantom.

The Phantom? But that’s an American comic strip.

Yes, of course. But we didn’t have that many French comics back then. (This was in the 1940s and ‘50s) 

A couple of famous French comics artists have designed movie posters for you; Caza and Philippe Druillet.

Yes. They were friends on mine.

You’ve written several novels, but did you ever work in the comic book field?

I wrote the script for a comic called “Saga de Xam.” The art was by Nicolas Devil and it was published in 1967.

That’s the year before your first vampire movie; “Le viol du vampire.” What’s “Saga de Xam” about?

It’s a psychedelic science fiction comic. It’s about a girl from a planet called Xam. It’s very strange.

I’m of course a big fan of European genre movies of the 1960s and ‘70s, but I’m too young to have experienced them when they were new, when they played theaters. Several of the horror movies -- like your movies -- are actually pretty far from horror movies. They’re something else. A weird genre of their own, a mix of art house and exploitation. I’ve often wondered what the hell people thought when they went to the movies back then and saw something like this. Didn’t they expect regular horror?

Oh, the times were different back then. People were curious. They wanted to experience new things. Things they hadn’t seen before. I think they liked what they saw.

Another director who made odd genre movies, was of course Jess Franco. Lots of people seem to lump the to of you together.

Really? I don’t think my movies are like the ones Franco made. Do you?

Well, there are similarities. The horror elements, sex and nudity, the sometimes arty approach, the not very linear storytelling …

Hm. Maybe. No, I don’t think so.

Speaking of Jess Franco, you directed a movie called “Zombie Lake.” Rumors has it was supposed to be directed by Franco, who pulled out.

No, it wasn’t Franco. It was some other director. Or maybe it was Franco? I don’t remember. I made the movie, but I didn’t have my heart in it.

The direction is credited to a “J.A. Lazer” …

Marius (Lesoeur, founder of French production company Eurociné) came up with that. He said “Nobody knows who Lazer is.” He pointed at a janitor sweeping the floor and said “Maybe that’s Lazer!”

… And then you filmed a few scenes featuring zombies that was inserted into Jess Franco’s “A Virgin among the Living Dead” from 1973, several years earlier …

Marius told me to do that. We did it really quickly. Just filmed some people dressed up as zombies. I don’t think I ever saw Franco’s movie. I don’t remember much of this …

You said the other day that the producer asked you to add nudity to your first vampire film.

Yes. He wanted me to expand it into a feature length movie (the original running time was less than an hour) and he wanted it to be sexier.

So, you were kind of forced to add the naked girls.


But then you kept on having lots of nudity in your movies.

Yes, because I like it. At first I didn’t want to have it, but then I did it it because I liked it! (Laughs)

You’re still active making movies. You made a new one just recently.

Yes, “La nuit des horloges.” I made it last year.

I haven’t seen your recent movies. Isn’t it tough to finance the type of movies you make these days?

It’s very hard. But I still make them.

I suppose you don’t shoot of 35mm anymore. Do you shoot on HD as most other low-budget horror directors?

No, no. We shoot on Super-16. Real film. Never on video.

“La nuit des horloges” stars somebody called Ovidie.

She’s a French porn star.

You’ve used several porn stars in your movies. The most famous one is of course the legendary Brigitte Lahaie. And the two girls in “Requiem for a Vampire” went on to make porn. Is there a reason you use porn actors?

No. I want the best actors for the parts. Sometimes they’re porn actors.

Do you still see the actors of your old movies? Like Brigitte Lahaie?

Yes, I still see her. And those two girls you mentioned. We have dinner.

(... And I immediately pictured Jean Rollin sitting at a table enjoying a nice, candle lit dinner
along with Lahaie and the two vampire girls -- looking like they did back in the 1970s …)

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