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Fascination [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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A pair of society women dressed in all their finery stand in the middle of an abattoir, animal carcasses hanging behind them and blood splashed across the floor. Giggling and fidgeting, they drink their prescribed glass of ox blood. The startling, unreal image of high-society manners in the midst of gore and death pitches Jean Rollin's 1979 feature Fascination into a turn-of-the-century culture come unhinged. When a well-dressed rogue, fleeing from angry partners he double-crossed, takes refuge in a lavish, moat-protected mansion, servant girls Franca Mai and Brigitte Lahaie cajole, tease and seduce him into staying for their night-time soiree. "You have stumbled into Elizabeth and Eva's life, the universe of madness and death", mutters one of them as they await the cabal where he is the guest of honour. Shot on a starvation budget and populated with stiff performers, Rollin's direction is arch and at times sloppy and his story never more than an outline. It's the mix of dreamy and nightmarish imagery that gives Fascination its fascination: blonde Lahaie stalking victims with a scythe, the bourgeois blood cult swarming over a fresh victim like wild animals, alabaster faces streaked in blood. While it lacks the delirious spontaneity of his earlier vampire films Shiver of the Vampires and Requiem for a Vampire, the languid pace and austere beauty creates an often-mesmerising fantasy. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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However I am most disappointed that it is not the full version. Why the 80 second credit sequence with Brigitte & friend dancing to a gramophone record has been removed is beyond me. Particularly as it is there on a much older videotape (also by Redemption) that I have.
Following a history of releases on VHS and DVD by Redemption, reasonable at the time but not particularly holding up nowadays in the hi-def era, Stateside company Kino have teamed with Redemption to thankfully remaster this (along with several other of the director's movies) in high definition - image quality jumps significantly on the Blu-ray, with strengthened colour schemes and wonderfully naturalistic detail without being excessively sharp; indeed, on occasions there is an authentic haziness during certain sequences. Running at 24 frames per second the accurately framed (1.66:1) full HD picture, often an immersive joy to behold, is accompanied again by original language French (uncompressed two channel mono) with clear English subtitles as an option (no English language audio track is present). Also present are two highly desirable softcore outtakes (with Lahaie) totalling around fifteen minutes and apparently shot if the film was required for export to more liberal territories, plus a twenty five minute documentary about Rollin that I originally saw broadcast on British TV surprisingly. Finishing off this awesome package are the trailers to the five films initially released under Kino's Rollin series and a very attractive booklet (unfortunately the same as the one included with the other discs, but welcome nonetheless). With this Blu-ray Disc, Jean Rollin's work looks and feels better than ever - this is the way this material was meant to be experienced, and is easier to appreciate with the respectful job that Kino have done. If you're a Rollin fan, get this captivating film on Blu-ray immediately; if you're not, consider opening your mind and putting your toe in the inviting waters - you may find yourself jumping in completely!
Paul (The Grim Cellar)
The version I purchased was the non-BluRay disk from Redemption and it provided a nice clean picture & a few 'extras'. This version runs 81 min. and I've noted that there is a 90 min. version available from Amazon.UK that purports to be 'fully' uncut/uncensored ... I'd be curious to know what the additional 9 min contains - if anyone has viewed 'that' version and would be willing to report their experience.
Good extras too including a booklet, trailers and Mondo Macabro documentary on French horror/Jean Rollin.