Ultra HD: Recommended
4 Stars out of 5
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Release Date: April 25th, 2023
Movie Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating:
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

Two Orphan Vampires - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray - Indicator Series (Limited Edition)

Review Date June 26th, 2023 by
Overview -

Jean Rollin, the enfant terrible of French cinema, may have preferred evoking a mood over line readings, but that never really took away from his goal of eschewing fantasy and horror to create something poetic and perplexing. His 1997 return to vampirism, Two Orphan Vampires, has arrived in gorgeous 4K Ultra HD aided by Dolby Vision HDR from Indicator. As with Indicator’s continuing series of Rollin films on 4K, the supplements package is rounded out nicely with new and vintage supplements. This release comes Recommended! 

OVERALL
Recommended
  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    NEW 4K RESTORATION from the internegative by Powerhouse Films
    Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Patricia MacCormack, archival introduction by Jean Rollin, archival production report by Peter Blumenstock, archival interview with Brigitte Lahaie, an extract from Rollin's source novel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and full film credits
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p/HEVC H.265
    DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    Original French and English mono soundtracks
    Subtitles/Captions:
    New and improved English translation subtitles for the French soundtrack
    New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
    Movie Studio: Powerhouse Films
    Release Date: April 25th, 2023

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4 Stars out of 5

In the attached booklet that comes with this release, there’s a written introduction from writer-director Jean Rollin in which he states the following about Two Orphan Vampires: “Certainly my most accomplished and professional film. The script and dialogue were very polished, and I got to rehearse with the two lead actors long before the filming took place, something I had never been able to do before.” Rollin was a well-lauded film critic before taking to the helm himself, and his exactness in which he writes about his own work is a great benefit to those who want to understand a filmmaker’s direct influence on a production. And in the same booklet essay, we learn that Rollin had even finally secured locations to film at that he had been asking for decades for permission. It must have been a very kismet kind of film for him to make, calling back to his 70s work in both mode (Super 16mm) and form (static shots bathed in primaries).

I’m going to give you one guess as to what Two Orphan Vampires is about. Okay, you guessed that it’s about two orphan vampires? Smart readers, I guess! Anyway, Louise (Alexandra Pic) and Henriette (Isabelle Teboul) are two blind orphans loved by all the nuns at their orphanage. At night, though, they regain their eyesight and crave blood. Will their centuries-old existence crumble in the face of modernity, with all the old cemeteries next to new construction? Either way, they must feast no matter how futile it feels.

I’d hazard to agree with Rollin’s own assessment that rehearsing with the two leads helped to make this is most accomplished and professional film, although I think “accomplished” and “professional” are rather reductive descriptors of the kind of visual poetry Rollin was always going for. He understood where exactly the audience’s comprehension of the story ends and their imagination begins. His stately shots of beautiful, often naked, women wandering through cemeteries speaking more to the heartbreaking loneliness of immortality than the kind of flesh baring being done in his peers’ works.

Yeah, I get that may sound like a bunch of pompous, pretentious art garbage, but Rollin’s mastery of genre means he can be poetic and revel in the more tantalizing aspects of the erotic fantasy world he often creates. The villagers are still angry about the vampires killing people in town, the vampires still remain unsated by all the bloodletting and all other requisite genre marks enclosed, however there’s a dialogue with those marks that continually pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in Rollin’s world. When people talk of cinematic universes, sometimes I wish it referred to filmmakers like Jean Rollin, who actually have vision and the gumption to execute.   

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
“We are sublime disorder.” Fate is blind in Two Orphan Vampires, presented here with a one-disc (BD66) 4K Ultra HD release that comes in a limited-edition hardcase with a digipack and essay booklet inside. The 4K disc boots up to a standard menu screen with options to play the film, set up audio, browse special features and select chapters.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    NEW 4K RESTORATION from the internegative by Powerhouse Films
    Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Patricia MacCormack, archival introduction by Jean Rollin, archival production report by Peter Blumenstock, archival interview with Brigitte Lahaie, an extract from Rollin's source novel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and full film credits
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p/HEVC H.265
    DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    Original French and English mono soundtracks
    Subtitles/Captions:
    New and improved English translation subtitles for the French soundtrack
    New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
    Movie Studio: Powerhouse Films
    Release Date: April 25th, 2023

Video Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

The following message about the restoration was taken from the essay booklet included in this release: “Two Orphan Vampires was scanned, restored and colour corrected in 4K HDR (Dolby Vision) at Filmfinity, London, using Super 16mm A/B 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.”

Indicator holds true to their promise in the above message with a beautifully filmic presentation that pulls the most out of the Super 16mm A/B elements used. I imagine Jean Rollin shot on Super 16mm because he preferred how grain and textures were exposed on that stock versus the 35mm stocks that were popular in the mid-90s. The HEVC/H.265-encoded 2160p presentation was encoded by Fidelity in Motion, and thus I didn’t notice any macroblocking, crushed blacks or other things that could come with a bad encode. The film itself is replete with grain and it’s all resolved wonderfully in this presentation. Rollin was always going for a painterly look with his strong primaries bathing nighttime shots. The way those colors blend in with the grain is where much of the film’s poetic power comes from, and I’m happy to report this is a very accurate representation of how the film would look projected on the big screen.

Those stylized colors really pop, and flesh tones aren’t too bright and are resolved very well when bathed in darkness. The presentation itself if a great argument for exposing 16mm film to 4K resolution, with its deep, inky black levels and well-tuned contrast. The source looks to be in very good condition as well. This is a very, very pleasing presentation that will leave you hungry for blood…er, I mean, more Rollin films in 4K!

Audio Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

As with Indicator’s 4K release of The Shiver of the Vampires, this release is provided with two different LPCM mono tracks in English and French. The French track has optional English subtitles, while the English track offers optional SDH subtitles. This is a very clean and clear presentation with a nice balance of music and dialogue and no hiss to be heard. Source seems to be in similarly great condition, as no damage was really heard throughout.

Special Features

4 Stars out of 5

Indicator once again follows up on their promise of bestowing Rollin’s films with plenty of supplementary materials. No matter where you start in this package, you’ll find plenty of great insights about the film directly from cast and crew, including Rollin himself. The making-of documentary is incredibly enlightening, with a ton of production details and interviews with cast and crew. It’s clear that Rollin may not have the most money for each film, but he’s surrounded by people who believe in him and his vision, plus it seems like he’s a pretty nice guy to work for to begin with. If you’re a fan at all of the film, you’ll find a ton here to enjoy.

  • Audio commentary with David Flint and Adrian J Smith
  • Memories of a Blue World: The Making of Two Orphan Vampires (HD 42:30)
  • Jean Rollin: Infinite Dreams (HD 35:04)
  • Alexandra Pic: Bonded by Blood (HD 13:30)
  • Isabelle Teboul: Eyesight to the Blind (HD 11:01)
  • The Smoking Vampires (HD 4:00)
  • Livres de sang (HD 7:25)
  • Theatrical trailer (HD 2:02)
  • Image galleries
  • 80-page book with new writings on the film, plus interviews with cast and crew

Final Thoughts

The world is blue and black for the Two Orphan Vampires at the center of Jean Rollin’s 1997 phantasmagoric feature shot on Super 16mm. Indicator provides this great work with a stunning 2160p presentation aided by Dolby Vision HDR that’s sourced from a new restoration of original film materials. Top technical marks across the board, and then you have the generous supplements package to enjoy. Sink your teeth into this Recommended release!

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    NEW 4K RESTORATION from the internegative by Powerhouse Films
    Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Patricia MacCormack, archival introduction by Jean Rollin, archival production report by Peter Blumenstock, archival interview with Brigitte Lahaie, an extract from Rollin's source novel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and full film credits
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p/HEVC H.265
    DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    Original French and English mono soundtracks
    Subtitles/Captions:
    New and improved English translation subtitles for the French soundtrack
    New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
    Movie Studio: Powerhouse Films
    Release Date: April 25th, 2023
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