Criterion’s April titles include Coppola’s Rumble Fish and Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club https://t.co/1PmfiylRaB
Living Dead Girl, The
Release Date(s)1982 (August 28, 2012)
So, if you’re anything like me, the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the title of this film, is that rockin’ song by Rob Zombie. Personally, I can’t shake it out of my head now that I thought of it, and writing about this film only makes it worse. Oh, well.
Jean Rollin’s The Living Dead Girl is weird little flick, man. I saw this for the first time when Image released it onto DVD back in 1998, and it was a true pleasure for me and really opened the door for me as a fan of Rollin’s filmography.
The Living Dead Girl is about a woman named Catherine, who’s been dead for two years. Now, how she could be in a coffin underneath a French mansion for two years and come out looking like Françoise Blanchard, could only be answered by Rollin (don’t get me wrong: I don’t disagree with his artistic choice of making her super-hot instead of all yucky and zombiefied – great minds think alike). Catherine was brought to life, after an Earth tremor sent a drum of toxic waste crashing and spilling on the ground. As luck would happen, two bumbling vandals were down in her crypt, robbing her and her mother’s graves when all this goes down. When she comes to life, she takes some wickedly long and sharp fingernails, and rips out eyes and throats left and right. Not a pretty sight. After Catherine’s rebirth, she finds that new life hurts without the warm flow of blood, and she needs to drink it pretty often. That’s where a gaggle of people, who seemingly have no reason to be constantly walking into this lonely old mansion in the hills of France, come into play. But first, she sends out a call to her former best friend Helen (Marina Pierro). Helen heads to the homestead, and immediately starts to help Catherine lure tasty young things in for her to feed on. Whether Catherine is a vampire, a zombie or a lesbian is never really shown or discussed. But it doesn’t really need to be. The film is unintentionally funny, pretty graphically gruesome, and looks pretty damn good on Blu-ray.
This Blu-ray from Kino/Redemption is a very nice upgrade to the original Image DVD, which looks pretty good in and of itself. Presented in 1.78:1 1080, the print they used is cleaner and brighter than the DVD release. Colors are rich, reds are bright and the blacks are nice and deep and free of artifacting but with nice grain present. The audio is a lossless Dolby Digital French stereo that gets the job done. English subs are also on board.
Where these new Rollin Blus really shine is on the extras, and Living Dead Girl doesn’t skimp. First up is a short intro from Rollin himself where he quickly mentions how gory the film is, which was unlike his style up until this point. A selection of featurettes includes thoughts from one of the film’s actors (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou), a look at the original American cut of the film, a nice tech-savvy look at the music by Philippe D’Aram and an showcase of special effects wizard Benoit Lestang. This was a young Lestang’s first real gig (he was a high school student during production it’s revealed) and went on to provide some show stopping effects including those used in Martyrs. There’s also a long look at Rollin’s visit to the 2007 Fantasia festival in Canada, more interview footage of Rollin discussing Living Dead Girl and a selection of Rollin trailers. Packaged in the set is another entry in Tim Lucas’ Rollin essays – this one focused on Living Dead Girl and Two Orphan Vampires.
Something unmentioned here (but worth noting), is that this is one of the only films that Rollin actually rehearsed the actors for. He was known for a lot of experimental filmmaking techniques, but most of it resulted in stiff acting (largely by friends, newcomers or porn starlets). This one is actually well-acted and fun to watch. If you have the stomach for it, The Living Dead Girl is worthy of taking home. I would just advise putting some mittens on her hands. Those nails look nasty.
- Todd Doogan