Iron Rose, The
Cast - Francoise Pascal, Pierre Dupont
Country of Origin - France
Director - Jean Rollin
MSRP - $24.95
Distributor - Kino
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (5/5)
A little over a year ago the world lost one of it's great unsung cinematic visionaries, and one of the true pioneers of French fantastic horror the now legendary Jean Rollin. During his career Rollin's work was primarily known by a devoted group of European horror aficionados, and kept alive by the work of fans who kept his work in the public eye. His films were far from horrors mainstream, for while they contained the sex, violence, and undead creatures horror fans crave they were more about the atmosphere then the scares. This created as many fans of his films, as it did detractors as Rollin was truly a cinematic auteur with a true personal cinematic vision.
I had known about Rollin's work almost as long as I have been a fan of European horror films (15 or so years). After my eyes were opened by the films of Fulci, Argento, and Bava I began to notice the variety of horror films being released on DVD at the time, and horror magazines were carrying ads for Image/Redemption's line of Rollin DVD's such as Living Dead Girl and Shiver's of the Vampire. Sadly, I was in college and on a limited budget, so it would be a good many years before I would catch up with his work. One day while perusing Seattle's wonderful Scarecrow Video with my wife, I found myself in their director's section right in front of his entire released to home video filmography, and finally succumbed to temptation with The Iron Rose.
When the Blu-ray's from Kino's new Redemption line made their way into my house early last week, it was this film that became the first of the remasters I watched. The Iron Rose isn't a vampire film, it doesn't feature an abundance of lesbian sex, but it is as poetic and dreamy horror film. It is almost like the dictionary definition of what a Jean Rollin film should be, and even should it not have been my first, I would recommend it as a fantastic way to introduce a new viewer to his works.
The Iron Rose in all honestly is a film that is hard to describe to a viewer coming into it. It is a film that is meant to be experienced above all. Like most of Rollin's film it doesn't have much of a plot, and what plot it does it meant to set up the characters in a place and time, and allow the events of the film to sort of unfold. The story, at least in my opinion, is incidental to the mood of the overall piece, and in all the Rollin films I have seen this precedent is most overwhelming in this film.
The Iron Rose stars Francoise Pascal and Pierre Dupont as a young couple who decide to go on an evening stroll through a cemetery. The pair stop to make love in a mausoleum, and upon leaving realize that they can not leave the cemetery. They wander aimlessly looking for a way out, while The Girl's sanity slowly begins to fade.
The films performances truly hinge on the work on Pascal and Dupont, and they are really fantastic here. It is especially interesting to watch The Girl descent into an almost serene state of madness, as their walk in the cemetery becomes a leisurely walk into oblivion. It is truly a wonderfully nuanced performance, that becomes more intricate and hypnotic as the viewing time plays out. The combination of Rollin's subtle atmosphertic direction, and the performances on display create something truly special.
The Iron Rose and the work of Jean Rollin is often cast as a horror film by association with the director, and his frequent use of undead monsters and violence in his films. However, The Iron Rose feels like a pure artistic spectacle. A true cinematic poem, that must be seen to be truly experienced.
The Iron Rose is presented in a 1:77:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer, and the results are certainly a fantastic upgrade from the prior Redemption DVD (I did not see the Encore releases, and therefore cannot comment on them). The black levels and flesh tones are completely solid throughout, and the grain structure is very much intact offering a very film like presentation to the whole film. The level of detail is upped entirely across the board, and colors are more prominent than in the past. There is a good little bit of print damage to be seen here, including scratches, nicks, etc. However, since this transfer was sourced from the films original negatives this may be the best the film could possibly look.
The audio is presented a French LPCM 2.0 Mono track that has also been well restored. The dialogue, music, and effects are mixed well, and nothing is buried in the mix. There are Optional English subtitles are included. I could not detect any aural anomalies in the mix such as grain, pops, hissing or distortion. Overall, an excellent mix.
Kino and Redemption have put together a nice slate of extras for their Blu-ray release of the Iron Rose, Admittedly some of them have been ported over from the prior Redemption DVD release, however what we have here is still excellent. The disc kicks off with a 5 minute introduction to the film by director Jean Rollin. We then have an interview with Nathalie Perry that last about 9 minutes, and then a 15 minute interview with the films star Francoise Pascal. We then have 4 trailers for the film 2 in French, and 2 in English. There are also a handful of trailers for the other recent films in Kino Redemption's Rollin line.
Out of all the Rollin films I have seen thus far (and granted that is about 4) Iron Rose is my absolute favorite. It is a poetic, dreamy, atmospheric art film grounded by fantastic direction from Rollin and 2 great performances. The upgraded A/V courtesy of Kino/Redemption is fantastic, and well worth the upgrade, and there is a nice slate of extras included here. Highly Recommended.