**** Out of 5
Release Date- November, 1979
Running Time- 81-Minutes
Writer/Director- Jean Rollin
Starring- Franka Mai, Brigitte Lahaie, Jean-Marie Lemaire, Fanny Magier
Released in 1979 Fascination is often regarded as a vampire film, but that really isn’t the case and Jean Rollin is often seen as a horror filmmaker, but the good portion of his films aren’t mean to scare or entice suspense except such films as Grapes of Death, Living Dead Girl and Zombie Lake (which is horrific for other reasons). I suppose his films can be seen as horror, but they aren’t the traditional horror films and if you go in expecting a legit horror film outside of the ones I mentioned you might be letdown. The films of Jean Rollin are very much an acquired taste and outside of Grapes of Death and Living Dead Girl, which have more mass appeal, Jean Rollin can be hit or miss with viewers. I’m sort of in the middle; I like his work, but I also wouldn’t really say I’m a big fan either. I guess the best way to put it while I like his work, but as a filmmaker even if I like him he wouldn’t be in my top 10, but I do enjoy his films enough to continue to watch them. Fascination is a film I knew very little about going into it and I wasn’t quite sure if this would be my type of film, but I must say I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
Fascination is one of those films that for me at least is a bit difficult to review. This isn’t really a horror film and it isn’t a vampire film I’m not really sure what I would really label it. If anything its a mixture of genres such as crime, mystery and horror even if nothing here is very scary nor was it meant to be. There’s only a little bit of action, which is effective, but not gory and while a lot of Rollin’s films were a bit erotic, which is the case here as there is plenty of nudity and a couple of sex scenes. However I wouldn’t say Fascination is sleazy, but rather erotic. If someone were to ask me what I liked about Fascination I would struggle to find the words much like I am now with this review, but like I said I really enjoyed Fascination and I’d rate it as one of my favorite Jean Rollin films.
Marc (Lemaire) a thief on the run comes across a chateau and decides to hide out there thinking its empty. But there are two women there who are part of a blood drinking cult.
The screenplay by Jean Rollin is fairly decent, but Fascination is a make or break film based on direction as the script is just sort of a guideline. Characters while lack depth are fairly interesting however and are mysterious enough to carry the picture even with the lack of action. Rollin’s script may not feature deep characters, but again they can carry the picture at least in my opinion.
As director Jean Rollin crafts quite an interesting film. Despite having very little action, Fascination is well paced and the brief action scenes as stated are effective. Rollin sets up quite a mysterious tone, which carries the picture throughout and while I would have liked a bit more suspense due to the terrific setting Fascination still works well. Visually the film looks great with an iconic scene with Brigitte Lahaie nude though wearing a black robe wielding a scythe as she walks back to the castle. Jean Rollin makes a truly fascinating film that has strong atmosphere and a mysterious tone, which makes Fascination an excellent film. As I mentioned Fascination is often dubbed a vampire film, but Rollin puts his own twist on things and labeling the film a vampire film would be wrong and if you expect that you’ll be disappointed.
Like I said for me at least Fascination is quite a difficult film to review. Like a good portion of his work this also is an acquired taste and will be hit or miss. For a more traditional horror film Grapes of Death or Living Dead Girl is the better bet, but if you’re looking for something a bit different give Fascination a try.