Jean Rollin – Fascination (1979)
After the extreme gore of Les Raisins de la Mort, you returned to a more familiar style with Fascination (1979), an erotic vampire film of sorts. It’s one of your best-known and best-liked films; what can you tell about its origin?
The title and general flair of the film is an hommage to a French magazine of the same name, dedicated to all kinds of eroticism in art, which was edited by my friend Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, who also worked with me on Les Raisins de la Mort and La Morte Vivante.
It was shot inside an old, very elegant and luxurious chateau, with a discrete entrance through the woods, which was renowned as a haven for rich people who wanted to spend some intimate time with their spouses or lovers. My co-producer wanted me to make a very explicit sex film–straight exploitation fare without too much emphasis on the fantastical elements–so we had a constant battle during the shooting (which I won eventually, much to the disappointment of my “enemy”) [LAUGHS]! I got the idea for the film from a French short story, Jean Lorrain’s “Un Verre de Sang” (“A Glass of Blood”), where I learned for the first time about wealthy French people at the turn of the century drinking the blood of bulls as a curative for anemia.
I like Fascination very much. It is very close to what I envisioned, very romantic and savage at the same time. It has a truly enigmatic, predatory atmosphere and some great images, such as Brigitte Lahaie wielding the scythe, or the opening scene in the slaughterhouse. It’s quite arty, and although it is a vampire film, it pretty much avoids the pulp ideas which I usually work into my scripts.