Iron Rose (1973)
Directed by Jean Rollin

Starring Francoise Pascal Hugues Quester Mireille Dargent Nathalie Perrey

One of the last Jean Rollin horror films to see DVD release in the U.S., 1973's "The Iron Rose" is an absolutely solid effort, not as classic as his 1970s vampire films like "Lips of Blood" and "Grapes of Death," but beautiful and haunting nonetheless.

It isn't a vampire movie, which is a little unusual for Rollin. In fact, he normally doesn't make good non-vampire horror films (with "Grapes of Death" a very notable exception). Despite a non-existent budget and its lack of lesbian vampires, this film manages to deliver as much atmosphere as some of Rollin's best work. It seems to have been one of Rollin's titles that slipped under the radar, only coming into print in 2007.

The film opens with a girl (Françoise Pascal) finding an iron rose along a Rollin-esque beach in France, where rotten wooden pillars manage to create a death-like mood. The girl eventually meets a young man (Hugues Quester), they fall for one another, and during a bicycle date head into a graveyard for a little peace and quiet. Only a few mourners are there, including a clown.

They eventually opt to go into a crypt to make out. By the time they emerge it's nightfall and the cemetery is empty,. And something else has gone wrong: They can't find their way out. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any way out.

Extending that concept for a full 90 minutes or so, Rollin has the couple's evening in the graveyard descend into a surreal evening. The young man's date eventually falls in love with the cemetery, while he fights to get out.

While not as explicit as Rollin's other films, this does feature a gorgeous female lead and as much atmosphere as some of the director's most popular movies. It was a real find for Redemption to unearth this movie in 2007. It definitely saw a U.S. release before and, just when you thought you'd seen everything by the legendary Rollin, along comes this gem. The DVD release looks exquisite as well.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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