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There's no director like Jean Rollin, the French horror fantasist who mixes the poetry of Jean Cocteau with the emotionless performances of Robert Bresson in his erotic vampire films. Lips of Blood is one of his best, an Oedipal tale of a young man haunted by visions of a forgotten childhood when he spies a poster of a coastal castle at a party. Jean-Louis Philippe, a hopelessly bland and flat performer, wanders through the deserted piazzas and fountains of his suddenly odd and alien hometown, eerily lit up in the dead of night. He's a man lost in a world where a woman in white silently materializes like a supernatural muse, gunmen appear from the inky-black night, and four naked vampire girls prowl the streets for blood and watch over him like dark angels. It's a tale of blood, sex, and haunting desire full of nudity and death and told in an austere, surreal style born of forced budgetary austerity. Rollin is slipshod with his action scenes and stiff with performers, but once he leaves the confines of the "real" world (where he's oddly uncomfortable) his style creates a trancelike mood to complement the beauty of his poetically macabre vision. The film our hero watches early in the picture is Rollin's own Shiver of the Vampires.

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KIDR004 Lips of Blood DVD (1975/Jean Rollin) $24.95 $21.99