Monday, 29 January 2018

Lips of Blood (4½ Stars)

When Frederic was 12 he went on holiday with his mother. One day he got lost and wandered into a ruined castle. He saw a beautiful woman standing behind the bars in a bare stone prison. She asked him to open the door. When he went in she asked if she could do anything in return. Frederic asked if she could help him find his mother. She said Yes, but advised him to stay in the prison for the night. When he fell asleep she left. She returned early in the morning and woke him, telling him his mother was nearby. Frederic asked the woman for a kiss. It was only a kiss on the cheek, but he fell in love with the strange woman. He was afraid of losing her, so on the way out he locked the door again. The woman asked Frederic to let her out, and he promised to return in the evening to see her again.

But he didn't return. That day Frederic's mother took him home. He told her about the woman, but his mother told him it was just a dream. She never told him where the castle was. It was just some random ruined castle that they passed on their journey.

20 years go by, but Frederic doesn't forget the woman and the soft kiss on the cheek. He still dreams about her. He speaks to her in his dreams, but she never answers. Wherever he goes he still thinks about her.

While at a party he sees a photo on the wall and recognises it as the ruined castle from his youth. The photographer is at the party, so he asks her where it is. She tells him that she's been paid a large sum to keep the location secret, but she'll tell him later if they can meet where nobody is listening. (Couldn't they just have gone outside and pretended to be making out?) Frederic soon finds he's caught up in a conspiracy. When he goes to meet the photographer he finds her dead. A man tries to kill Frederic. When Frederic asks his mother for advice she has him committed to a mental asylum, where he's told he needs electric shock treatment.

He's saved at the last minute by two vampires posing as nurses. Nobody but Jean Rollin makes films like that.

Many people consider this to be Jean Rollin's best film. It's beautiful, poignant and poetic. It's touching to see an undying romance that begins in childhood and continues into adulthood. Providing Frederic finds the woman again, but I think my readers can guess the answer.

Young Frederic was played by Jean Rollin's son Serge, who was only eight at the time. There's a cute story told by Natalie Perry, the actress who played Frederic's mother. There were problems with the film because the production crew didn't get on with Jean Rollin. They were doubtlessly skilled in their work, but they didn't like the film and they showed it. Natalie felt depressed because of this. During the filming she shared a hotel room with Serge. One night when they went to bed she heard Serge repeating his lines from the film in his sleep. That made her so happy that she could continue with the film.

This is the film's most iconic image: the coffin being washed out to sea. It's yet another example of Jean Rollin's creative imagery. I shan't tell you how it fits into the story. Watch the film for yourself.

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