Shiver of the Vampires (The) AKA Le Frisson des vampires AKA Thrill of the Vampires AKA Sex and the [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (13th April 2023).
The Film

Jean Rollinís third feature film, 1971ís The Shiver of the Vampires (Le Frisson des vampires), established themes and visual motifs to which he would return throughout his career, blending horror, eroticism, fairy tale, and surrealism to create his unique cinema of the fantastique.

Arriving at a decrepit chateau for their honeymoon, young newlyweds undergo a series of surreal and sinister encounters, and come to realise that they are the prey of the resident vampires...

With performances from Sandra Julien (I Am Frigid... Why?) and Marie-Pierre Castel (Lips of Blood), ravishing cinematography from Rollinís regular collaborator Jean-Jacques Renon, and a thrilling jazz-rock score by Acanthus, The Shiver of the Vampires is regarded as one of Rollinís greatest films.

Video

Rollin's films are an acquired taste. Essentially an arthouse director inspired by surrealist paintings, comic books and serials. He was always inclined towards eroticism in his films but was forced by producers and financiers to beef those elements up. The Shiver of the Vampire (1970) was his third film after The Rape of the Vampire (1967) and The Nude Vampire (1969). I first bevame aware of Rollin and his work in David Pirie's The Vampire Cinema (1977) which I picked up second hand circa 1985 when I was at the height of my Hammer fascination and was busy taping Hammer Horror films off UK TV and seeking out ex-rental tapes of the same. I didn't get to actually see a Rollin film until Redemption started releasing the films on tape in the '90s. It took me a while to get his vibe and to become a fan.

From the booklet (see the extras below):
The Shiver of the Vampires was scanned, restored and colour corrected in 4K HDR (Dolby Vision) at Filmfinity, London, using original 35mm internegative film materials. Phoenix image-processing tools were used to remove many thousands of instances of dirt, eliminate scratches and other imperfections, as well as repair damaged frames. No grain management, edge enhancement or sharpening tools were employed to artificially alter the image in any way. The original French and English mono audio tracks were remastered by Michael Brooke using iZotope RX10.

I have never seen The Shiver of the Vampire looking as good as it does here. It's a vividly shot film with very rich colour values and plenty of coloured gel lighting. Reds are positively excessive and sear the eyes with their intensity when they appear as in the opening credits and in later scenes flooded with red lighting. The opening scene where a vampire dies in a stair well is so red, that detail suffers in the faces! Purples pop, greens are lush; this is a colourful film. Flesh tones are warm if still naturalistic.

Black levels are deep and filled with shadow detail although being shot on the fly on locations (both internal and external) mens there is some intended crush occasionally. Contrast is supportive and lends everything a vividness that ensures and extremely strong image harvest. There's no signs of digital tinkering, or sharpening. This is a grainy film and the transfer is suitably soft and filmic in a way only a low budget production from the early '70s can be. Encoding is top notch as usual and the 4K restoration will ensure that even on the biggest most up to date displays and via projectors this will look like film. No doubt the 4K UHD BD will have the edge with greater resolution and the higher dynamic range, but this BD is as good as it gets for a vintage, low budget production; it looks like it was shot yesterday with no signs of any print damage in evidence ('A+').

1080p24 / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.66:1 / 94:57

Audio

French LPCM 1.0 (48kHz)
English LPCM 1.0 (48kHz)
Subtitles: English, English HoH

Simple mono tracks done on a low budget that lack depth but unlike some other European exploitation films of this era, shot with production sound in French so the French track is the only way to go. The English dubbing isn't at all bad but why would a fan want to watch it? However, they're both equally strong in terms of quality using the same music and effects track as their basis. I noticed when toggling between the two that the French was louder by a small margin. Dialogue is always sharp and clear on both although there isn't much at times being very visually told stories. The score by Acanthus comes across clearly with some very mild distortion baked into the elements, but that has always been the case. It's hardly worth mentioning though. Two optional sets of subs are provided, both excellent, English for the French track and English hard of hearing for the English dub ('B+').

Extras

(1.) Audio commentary with Jean Rollin (2006)
(2.) Audio commentary with film historian Jeremy Richey (2023)


The 2006 Rollin commentary dates from the superb Dutch DVD set from Encore and has been extended to full length (on the Dutch DVD the yaktrak ran 88:16) and is in French with optional English subtitles. It's an excellent track that covers all the things one would expect from Rollin and longtime fans will have heard the shorter version before.

American film historian and co-author (with Nico B) of Sylvia Kristel: From Emmanuelle to Chabrol (2022) and creator of the blog Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience, which he started in 2007, provides us with this second track unique to the Powerhouse Films releases. Consequently we get a different perspective, but no less informative, look at Rollin, his career and Shiver of the Vampire both detail about the film and Rollin's feelings about it. Both tracks are presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

"Jean Rollin Introduces Shiver of the Vampires" 1998 featurette (4:03)

Rollin is, as usual, on fine anecdotal form in an excerpts from a longer interviews whereby he discusses specifically Shiver of the Vampire and his opinion of the film. The technical quality of the clips is varied with some from slightly lesser sources than others. The interviews are presented as 1.33:1 pillarboxed with the clips from the film itself being 1.66:1 from the restored master. Overall, it's 1080p24 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono with no subtitles. It's in English. One of the interview sessions has a weird guy sat on the settee next to Rollin (in his apartment) wearing a mask which he holds in front of his face.

"Rouge Vif: The Shiver of the Vampires" 2016/2023 updated featurette featuring vintage interviews with Natalie Perrey, Jean-NoŽl Delamarre and Jean-Denis Bonan (17:17)

This is a revised and edited version of a documentary that seems to have debuted on the German BD where it ran 20:35 vs the new 17:17. It's an interview with production assistant Delamarre and with first assistant director Perrey both of whom have worked on several Rollin films down the years. It seems to have been a stressful shoot with actor Jacques Robiolles causing problems by having his badly behaved son on set who was dealt with with a judiciously placed spoon of hot mustard when he kept sticking his tongue out at everyone. This nearly caused a fight and got the whole unit booted out of the restaurant they were using for catering. Perrey relates a another tale involving a hated actress and her dog on set and a wig. Also discussed are the cinematography, locations, the fact the actresses were girlfriends of others on set, fake blood which led to a lawsuit, problems with the local fire service, shooting night scenes, the editing process, the score by Acanthus amongst many other titbits of trivia. Uncredited editor Benon also appears. Why this is missing 3:18 worth of footage is a mystery that I can't answer as I don't have the German disc. Presented in upscaled 1080p24 1.78:1 with some bits in pillarboxed 1.33:1 and 1.66:1. Features lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, in French with optional English subtitles.

"Fear and Desire: Jean Rollin Interviewed by Patricia MacCormack, Paris August 2004" 2023 featurette featuring a 2004 interview (40:49)

UK-based, Australian academic MacCormick will be very familiar to fans and collectors of European horror films having appeared on many extras down the years. According to the internet, she's currently Professor of Continental Philosophy in English and Media at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Here MacCormack is interviewing Rollin in his apartment in 2004. This has appeared on previous editions of Rollin's films and delves into his approach to his films in a certain amount of depth. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with pillarboxed 1.33:1 material upscaled and clips from the film, no subtitles. This interview focusses on why Rollin prefers to have female protagonists and why they're strong characters and not victims. Also discussed: why his film Lips of Blood (1975) had a male lead, his strong sense of family in his films and his love of beaches and why they play a key part in his films.

"Macabre Psychedelia: Virginie Sťlavy on The Shiver of the Vampires" 2023 interview (8:00)

Online sources tell me that "Virginie Sťlavy is the founder and editor-at-large of Electric Sheep, the online magazine for transgressive cinema" (BFI) and has her own website. She gives us here an excellent rundown of Rollin's films and a potted history of lesbian vampire cinema. Rollin's films are counterpointed against other films and his style, influences and themes are discussed. An essential piece for anyone who's a newbie to the genre that packs a great deal into it's brief 8:00. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, no subtitles.

Export Inserts (Play All - 24:17):
- Export Insert #1 (3:45)
- Export Insert #2 (4:55)
- Export Insert #3 (3:43)
- Export Insert #4 (4:48)
- Export Insert #5 (1:30)
- Export Insert #6 (2:57)
- Export Insert #7 (2:39)


A slew of explicit scenes meant for foreign versions of the film. #1-#13 are resented in 1080p24 1.78:1, the remainder are upscaled from much lesser VHS-level sources and pillarboxed 1.66:1. All have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, no subtitles.

French Theatrical Trailer (4:12)
English Theatrical Trailer (4:12)


Two vintage trailers that are essentially the same, presented in 1080p24 1.66:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 sound. The French one has optional English subtitles, the .english one doesn't.

Image Galleries:
- The Shiver of the Vampires Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (89 images)
- The Shiver of the Vampires Image Gallery: Behind the Scenes (77 images)


Two massive still galleries in HD.

80-page book with a new essay by David Hinds, an archival introduction by Jean Rollin, an archival interview with the director by Peter Blumenstock, an archival interview with actor Marie-Pierre Castel, Andy Votel on Acanthus, the mysterious group behind the filmís soundtrack, and full film credits

Essential hardcopy companion to the film that provides us with more writing on this most fascinating of European exploitation directors.

Packaging

Not sent for review; it appears to be a hard card outer box with a BD Keepcase and the booklet held within.

Overall

Powerhouse Films first forays into 4K UHD BD releases kick off with two Jean Rollin cult classics. Only the BD versions (released at the same time) have been sent for review at this time. Stunning presentations of both films (Shiver of the Vampire, Two Orphan Vampires) presented at their absolute best, easily making all other home video editions obsolete and carrying over plenty of legacy extras (plus some new material). Shivers was shot in 35mm and remains one of Rolin's very best efforts and looks incredible in the new restoration with top notch image and sound, especially when we consider the fly-by-night low budget nature of production and limited technology used to create them. I've never seen Shiver looking kr sounding as good as it does here and I've had the UK Redemption VHS, the UK and US DVDs and the US Kino BD by way of comparison. A must for all Eurocult fans and easily one of the discs of the year, highly recommended!

The Film: B+ Video: A+ Audio: B+ Extras: A+ Overall: A

 


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it and amazon.es . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.