Color, 1981, 102m.
Directed by Jean Rollin
Starring Laurence Dubas, Christiane Coppé, Marianne Valiot, Louise Dhour, Nathalie Perrey, Brigitte Lahaie
Redemption (UK R0 PAL, US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.66:1)

Withdrawn asylum inmate Marie (Coppé) finds her daily routine of sitting outside in a rocking chair disrupted with the arrival of Michelle (Dubas), who decides to drag her along on an escape attempt into the woods. In the outside world they hook up with a traveling circus called “Maurice and His Exotic Dancers,” become entangled with a gang of bikers, drink wine and have sex with a bunch of social dropouts on a ship, mingle with some lesbian sailors and a lesbian Brigitte Lahaie, and finally meet their violent destiny on a rain-soaked pier. Hey, it could happen to anyone.

As director Jean Rollin himself admits in the supplementary interview to this DVD, The Escapees (original title: Les paumées du petit matin) had few commercial prospects since it’s not a horror film and doesn’t quite qualify as erotica either. However, it is a Rollin film through and through, which means dreamy pacing, tender and tragic emotional bonds, and frequent imagery involving theatrical performers and the ocean. The film features most of the same technical team from his peak period in the early ‘80s, and the film definitely shares a similar mood to The Night of the Hunted and Fascination with regular composer Philippe D’Aram contributing another lyrical electronic-tinged music score. Anyone unfamiliar with the director’s work will be completely baffled, but Rollin junkies seeking a fix of his unique poetic style will find plenty to appreciate.

Redemption’s release transferred from the original negative is about on par with their prior Rollin releases, presented in a slightly letterboxed, interlaced non-anamorphic transfer that looks a bit dated and rough at times but is certainly watchable. The only really substantial extra here is a new 32-minute Rollin interview in which he discusses the film in depth, saying “enough with the vampire films” at the time as he wanted to do a “real film with a real story.” However, he wound up working with two different scripts put together and had to adapt severely along the way during shooting, particularly with the haunting ice rink scene which was “terrible” on page but wound up being the best moment in the entire film. A stills gallery and additional, unrelated Redemption trailers fill out the rest of the disc.

Color, 1993, 90m. / Directed by Jean Rollin / Starring Tiki Tsang, Frederique Hayman, Jean-Jacques Lefeuvre, Karine Swenson / Redemption (US R0 NTSC, UK R0 PAL)

If you ever wondered what might happen if Jean Rollin decided to make an erotic action film on a budget of about five francs, Killing Car, also known under the far more appropriate title of La femme dangereuse, is the baffling answer. Shot on low-grade film sometime in the '80s and evidently finished in post-production on video in 1993, it's a strange, maddening, and sometimes beautiful dream piece revolving around a mostly silent, alluring female assassin (one-offactress Tsang), who wanders around the seedy wastelands around Paris killing various people. Along the way she also dances in a small nightclub, stalks her prey through a garden of statues, jaunts off to New York and wafts around a ferryboat, and becomes involved with the modeling industry, all the while observed by a pair of less-than-enthusiastic police officers.

Rollin fans are really the only ones who will find rewards in this little oddity, which trades entirely on the surface appeal of the beautiful and rather captivating Tsang; she can model clothes and slip off sunglasses like nobody's business. Along with the commerically-mandated but rather innocent injects of nudity and blood, Rollin also throws in some amusing nods to his previous films, mainly through prop cameos related to his past vampire projects, and of course the melancholy finale features the heroine crying directly at the camera. Basically a goofy little trifle as far as Rollin films go, it's still unmistakably his work and merits a peek for the Euro-horror completist.

Unfortunately the production history of Killing Car means that, barring someone going back to the negative and rebuilding the film from scratch with new edits and credits, there's no way it will ever look better than the video master that's been circulating for the past few years. Salavaton’s release looks about as dated as you might expect, with burned-in subtitles and very weak contrast. It's still watchable if you don't mind watching something a step or two above VHS, but don't expect any visual fireworks here. The packaging labels it as Dolby Digital Stereo, but it sounds for all the world like mono to these ears. Rollin fans will certainly be happy to see that this release contains the complete Erotika! UK TV episode devoted to him, and for once all the film clips appear to be intact for this video edition. It's a great intro to his work and, in a just world, would be included on all of his releases to lure in the uninitiated.