The Shiver of the Vampires - Indicator Series Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
Of all the filmmakers to take on horror, few were able to rise to the levels of sensuous, fairytale-like eroticism that French talent Jean Rollin was able to achieve. One of his finest works, The Shiver of the Vampires, now arrives in 4K Ultra HD courtesy of Indicator with an absolutely stunning 2160p presentation aided by Dolby Vision HDR and a very worthwhile supplements package that compiles both new and old features. This melancholic, gorgeous work of horror comes Highly Recommended!
Jean Rollin's third feature film, 1971's The Shiver of the Vampires (Le Frisson des vampires), established themes and visual motifs to which he would return throughout his career, blending horror, eroticism, fairy tale, and surrealism to create his unique cinema of the fantastique.
Arriving at a decrepit chateau for their honeymoon, young newlyweds undergo a series of surreal and sinister encounters, and come to realise that they are the prey of the resident vampires...
With performances from Sandra Julien (I Am Frigid... Why?) and Marie-Pierre Castel (Lips of Blood), ravishing cinematography from Rollin's regular collaborator Jean-Jacques Renon, and a thrilling jazz-rock score by Acanthus, The Shiver of the Vampires is regarded as one of Rollin's greatest films.
Special Features and Technical Specs:
- NEW 4K RESTORATION from the internegative by Powerhouse Films
- DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
- Audio commentary with director Jean Rollin (2006)
- Audio commentary with Sylvia Kristel: From Emmanuelle to Chabrol author Jeremy Richey (2023)
- Virginie Sélavy on 'The Shiver of the Vampire' (2023): appreciation by the author and film historian
- Rouge Vif (2023): updated documentary on the making of The Shiver of the Vampires by Rollin's personal assistant, Daniel Gouyette
- Introduction by Jean Rollin (1998): filmed appraisal by the director
- Interview with Jean Rollin by Patricia MacCormack (2004): lengthy discussion filmed in Paris
- Deleted scenes: sex sequences filmed for the export market
- Original French, English and German theatrical trailers
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
- New and improved English translation subtitles for the French soundtrack
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by David Hinds, an archival introduction by Jean Rollin, an archival interview with the director by Peter Blumenstock, an archival interview with actor Marie-Pierre Castel, Andy Votel on Acanthus, the mysterious group behind the film's soundtrack, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and full film credits
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
So many of Jean Rollin’s films have been discarded as trash because of their heavier-than-most softcore leanings. After all, the man made a lot of porn in the 1970s when work was particularly dry, though his experience in the hardcore scene actually influenced his narrative films for the better. To me, there are few directors as obsessed with the alluring motion of vampirism, and Rollin incorporates that into both narrative and aesthetic form in ways that really do astonish. That is to say that Rollin’s approach is usually not for the gorehounds and those who are looking for schlock, but it’s the kind of approach that bears introspection. And hell, The Shiver of the Vampires is just beautiful to look at.
It’s very odd to read others recommend The Shiver of the Vampires as a good entry point for Rollin, as it’s the kind of slow, somber, lush entertainment that usually plays well to those who are looking for something more contemplative than the normal horror film. Maybe it’s just a very good litmus test for his style. However that may be, the film is packed with the kind of sneaky thematic attitude that pervades Rollin’s career. The man is obsessed with pushing traditional narratives into abstraction and the other way around. The success of that balance varies from film to film, though it makes his oeuvre very distinct.
The Shiver of the Vampires follows newlyweds Isle (Sandra Julien) and Antoine (Jean-Marie Durand) as they stop off at a decrepit old castle in rural France, as that’s where Isle’s cousins are supposed to live. Upon arrival, they discover the cousins are actually dead, though they decided to spend the night in the creepy, capacious castle. Two mysterious maids lure them into a world of shocking vampirism with a centuries-old vampire vying for power.
Rollin has spoken multiple times about how much he cares about image making, and the poetic surrealism found in his slow, mostly static shots of highly stylized lighting and naked women is on full display here. He’s just able to find the delicate balance between the traditional narrative and his visual poetry this time around. The two Renfields traversing a cemetery feels like a duo of somnambulists floating across a dreamscape, lulling you in all the same. Needless to say, if you’re not up for a talky, beautiful slice of Rollin horror, then this film is certainly not for you. But for those who find enrichment in Rollin’s style and the way he likes to explore fate and destiny as it relates to immortality, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here. I certainly did.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays
The following message about the restoration was taken from the essay booklet included in this release: “The Shiver of the Vampires was scanned, restored and colour corrected in 4K HDR (Dolby Vision) at Filmfinity, London, using original 35mm internegative film materials. Phoneix image-processing tools were used to remove many thousands of instances of dirt, eliminated scratches and other imperfections, as well as repair damaged frames. No grain management, edge enhancement or sharpening tools were employed to artificially alter the image in any way.”
Based upon the very detailed restoration summary above, it makes complete sense that Indicator has been sitting back and watching the boutique 4K Blu-ray market grow and flourish, waiting for the right opportunity to strike when they’ve established a rock-solid 4K restoration and mastering workflow. I’m elated to report that Indicator has hit the ground running with an absolutely beautiful presentation of a very low-budget, highly-stylized work. The 35mm internegative source is a couple generations removed from the negative, therefore I was expecting a decent amount of detail to be lost in the heavier grain. Even with all that said, the HEVC-encoded 2160p presentation astounds in how well it renders the thick, dark shadowplay and heavily stylized costumes.
Flesh tones are tuned in just right, and the bold colors employed across the film are all rendered beautifully without becoming obfuscated by the thicker grain field. As this is a Fidelity in Motion encode, I did not notice any anomalies and found terrific compression rates throughout the film. This is a real stunner despite not being from the negative, and I’m sure every viewer will be taken aback by how much the Dolby Vision HDR makes those stylized colors pop without blowing everything else out. Rollin’s usual softness in texture is respected here as well.
Indicator provides this release with two different LPCM mono tracks in English and French. The French track has optional subtitles, while the English track has optional SDH subtitles. The dialogue is treated very well and blends with the score without becoming too muddied. There’s a degree of hiss in the track, although it’s very minor and most likely related to the source. I’ll say that the prog-rock score sounds a bit flat, but I bet that’s another source-related thing.
As for the supplements package, Indicator packs this limited edition with interviews, making-of featurettes, an essay booklet and even the export inserts used to spice up the sex and violence in the film while it played internationally. I’ll say that the 40-minute interview with Jean Rollin is a really great watch and cuts right into what makes the man tick and how that influences his form. For the uninitiated in Rollin’s world, there’s a real bounty of information to parse through here.
- Introduction by Jean Rollin (HD 4:03)
- Rouge vif: Le Frisson des vampires (HD 17:17)
- Jean Rollin: Fear and Desire (SD 40:49)
- Macabre Psychedelia: Critical essay by Virginie Selavey (HD 8:00)
- Export Inserts (HD 24:17)
- French theatrical trailer (HD 4:12)
- English theatrical trailer (HD 4:12)
- Image galleries
- 80-page book with new writings on the film, plus interviews with cast and crew
In The Shiver of the Vampires, the vampires do much, much more than bite, and Indicator/Powerhouse Films has provided the gorgeous 1971 horror film from Jean Rollin with an equally gorgeous limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The new 4K restoration from the internegative looks incredible, and the supplements package is designed to help you find your footing in the world of Jean Rollin. Highly Recommended!
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