I don't watch many Jean Rollin movies, and this one has not turned me into a fan. I can't agree with the reviewer who said this had beautiful phiotography - a lot of the film is out of focus!
Grapes of Death tells of a young girl's experience fighting off hordes of zombified villagers who have all succumbed to the effects of some tainted red wine. The film follows her flight from a train, through the countryside into a village and finally to the vineyard and wine factory. That's all that really happens.
I thought Jean Rollin had some sort of reputation as a cult director, but I can't see any evidence of much talent in this film. As I mentioned, the camerawork goes out of focus many, many times. The dialogue looks like it's all post dubbed and the acting is mostly pretty dire. The film seems to draw on the atmoshphere of "Tombs of the Blind Dead" as our heroine stumbles around an abandoned village being chased by moaning ghouls, but this film isn't half as effective as that one. The effects of the poisoned wine are achieved by giving the villagers bright green, pink and orange make up plastered over their faces and it looks really silly. Most of the blood in this film is a kind of magenta colour too, which doesn't help!
I was really disappointed in this film overall, although a couple of things work in the films favour. One is a very good central performance by the actress playing the heroine, who seems effectively terrified. Secondly, even I was shocked by a particularly graphic decapitation that happens about halfway through the film, it's the only time that I actually sat up out of my seat for the whole duration. And genre fans might be pleased to know that French babe Brigitte Lahaie has a small cameo role, and yes she gets 'em out on camera to keep the male audience members happy.
But apart from those few exceptions, the film is pretty flat and lifeless. Because the zombies/ghouls themselves are so ineffective (in being scary I mean), the film falls short of being very entertaining.
As usual, Redemption have kitted out the release with a glossy page 3 girl cover photo and their usual tiresome boobs 'n' blood intro mini-movie that can't be skipped. I really don't get this marketing idea. I certainly wouldn't say that Grapes of Death is an erotic horror film, but Redemption think everything looks better with their porno prologue clip, so we are stuck with it.