May 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm (6 Heads, Fascination) (, , )

Fascination – 1979 – France

In 1905, a thief on the lam hides in a chateau. Its only occupants are two strange sylph-like lesbians, whom the thief holds hostage. The pair seems amused. They play frivolous pranks and make love, but occasionally speak morosely of a reunion with “death” at midnight. Meanwhile, the thief’s murderous enemies track him to the chateau and attack. One of the strange women dons a black robe and wields a scythe to slaughter the invaders. Following the bloodbath, night falls and other women arrive. They play parlor games with the thief, alternately seducing and threatening him. At midnight, they reveal themselves to be a blood-drinking cult with intent to kill. The thief flees, along with one of the women, who spontaneously claims to love him. They escape, but the woman knifes the thief and returns to the cult.

Fascination is more concerned with its dream-like atmosphere than narrative. As a result, it is not very coherent. Apparently, the women are aristocrats who began drinking blood to cure their anemia and grew to love it. Of course, this does not explain their almost telepathic connection with each other, or their alien behavior. The film creates an excellent air of mystery, but lacks the surprising revelations that make a mystery rewarding.

If nothing else, Fascination’s dark, enchanting world is immersive. Meditative pacing, lack of logic, and absurd characterizations place the events of the film in another dimension with vastly different expectations than our own. However, most viewers will remember Fascination for its frequent sex scenes, and the iconic image of the woman killing while dressed as the Grim Reaper. Director Jean Rollin’s other films are mostly erotic vampire stories, so he seems to have made a career of such sexual and nightmarish material.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. Fascination would be rated lower if it were not so memorably bizarre.

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