FASCINATION (1979) – The Dungeon Review!
Jean Rollin’s Fascination was another film I had not seen when I did my top ten lists for the 1970s. It bugs the hell out of me that I left a gem like Fascination off of my 1979 list. Jean Rollin is a master of style. Vampirism, gothic backdrops, woman in sets of two, gauzy dresses that expose women’s naked bodies and the beach is imagery often repeated in Jean Rollin films. These things along with amazing locations, haunting music and appealing performers are what make Rollin’s beautiful films so ethereal and dream-like.
The Parisian privileged visit the abattoir to drink ox blood in an effort to cure anemia. Meanwhile a gentleman by the name of Mark escapes some fellow thieves with a bag of gold coins. He happens upon a mansion where he meets Elisabeth and Eva. Mark attempts to take charge but the two beautiful women flirt with him and eventually seduce him. They are more than happy to let him take cover from the gang of thieves waiting nearby. The mysterious Elisabeth and Eva are preparing for the arrival of the Marchioness and Mark would be the perfect addition to the guest list.
Fascination begins with the opening of a large tome that looks ancient and important; a hand turns the pages delicately and gently caress its pages. Two woman are seen dancing on a bridge as a phonograph plays. Than a visit to an abattoir. The floor of the abattoir is soaked with the blood and gore from the animals slaughtered there. A woman dressed completely in white seems particularly out-of-place. Beside the woman in white is another dressed completely in black. The woman in white dips her finger in the blood and flirtatiously rubs it over her lips much to the delight of the butcher. This was the first few minutes of the film and I was already completely engrossed.
There is some violence in Fascination but it is not terribly graphic. Rollin has mentioned in interviews that he isn’t crazy about the gore; he is definitely more about the sexy ladies than the horror. Well sexy ladies and mood and atmosphere which Fascination’s pot is boiling over with! Fascination does have its violent moments, two of the best feature a particularly blood thirsty group of women in sheer gowns and a rousing scythe versus knife fight. Eva and Elisabeth are sophisticated, eccentric, sexy, violent and confident and Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Mai are the perfect leading ladies to pull it off effortlessly. I also enjoyed the hell out of Jean-Marie Lemaire who plays the handsome and cheeky Mark. Fascination is not a vampire film at least not in the traditional sense. It is about blood thirst and there is drinking of blood but these women are not living dead creatures, What these women do is unnatural but not supernatural. There is not a fang to be seen, there are however a fair amount of breasts. There is all sorts of nudity in Fascination and a few sex scenes too. I would advise taking a pass on Jean Rollin’s library if that sort of thing offends you.
Fascination is a beautiful, sexy, haunting film full of lovely images complimented by a melodically eerie soundtrack, an intriguing premise and devilishly delightful performances from Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Mai who are complimented nicely by a well-suited leading man in Jean-Marie Lemaire. Fascination has been one of my favourites from the dreamy and surreal world of Jean Rollin. My highest of recommendations; a perfect score.
Dungeon Rating: 5/5
Directed By: Jean Rollin
Starring: Franca Maï, Brigitte Lahaie, Jean-Marie Lemaire, Fanny Magier, Muriel Montossé, Sophie Noël, Evelyne Thomas, Agnès Bert, Cyril Val, Myriam Watteau, Joe de Palmer