Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jean Rollin's "The Grapes of Death" (1978)

The Grapes of Death is one of the most underrated and unknown gems of the "zombie" genre. I decided to put quotes around the word zombie because I couldn't quite decide whether they were true come back to life zombies or just a group of villagers infected by a bad pesticide in their wine. I leaned towards the latter due to the fact that they seemed to go into a phase, come out, then re-enter, and so on. In reality though, that's just talk. It doesn't really matter if they're zombies or not as the theme of the film stays the same.

If you thought George A. Romero's zombies were slow then check out Rollin's in this film. Half the time they'll stand around talking to you before they lunge at you. Alright, maybe I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea. They're pretty slow and lumbering. Regardless, this is a good, entertaining film for fans of the genre. Zombie fans are always looking for more and there is no better way to get more than go back and time and go across seas. While the International zombie genre was ruled by Italians, Rollin out of France was able to create this absolute gem. It's a shame it's rather hidden. The same goes for "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie", another quality yet unknown zombie thriller. Like most zombie films to come out of foreign lands, this one too is slowly paced and hell bent on atmosphere. Rollin does do a great job capturing that atmosphere and making this film very accessible for everyone.

The Grapes of Death is a gore heavy film, thankfully. The kills are creative, cool, done well for the time, and bloody. Throw in some babes, nudity, a blind chick, and a dark and ghost town like setting of the open country and small villages, and you have one hell of a fun film. This is a film totally worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre.


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