Anyway, that adjective was enough to keep Fascination near the bottom of my to-do pile. He even wanted to watch Nightwatch, a film he'd been told was bad by people who'd seen it, before finally dealing with the French film. There's also his lingering aversion to European horror and its non-linear "dream logic." To his happy surprise, Rollin's film is quite linear and coherent, though that may not be true of all his work.
Brigitte Lahaie) and Elizabeth (Franka Mai) are caretakers. The owners are away and the women have the place to themselves until a fugitive crosses the bridge. He's Mark, a criminal who's tried to swindle some accomplices out of their share of a gold heist. The situation is set up for a siege as Mark has only one way out, the way he came, and his pals are lying in wait for him with a four-to-one advantage -- not counting his hostesses. He asserts his masculine mastery over them to little effect at first; his little gun is not the most threatening thing. So unthreatened are Eva and Elizabeth by him that even when he strongarms them and locks them in a room, they see no reason not to make out and get naked. They have an extra key, after all.
"Mesdames, are you not threatened by my powerful weapon?"
"No, but we will gladly draw more unflattering analogies to your manhood, if you please."
The curious thing about the situation is that they seem in no hurry to get rid of their dangerous guest. They seem -- or Eva especially seems more interested in playing mind and body games with the guy, though that starts to trouble Elizabeth. But once the gang grows brazen enough to invade the grounds, Eva takes steps to resolve the crisis and save Mark. She offers the gang his gold, and her body. She lets one of the gang take her in a barn while exchanging her clothes with his moll.
It still hasn't sunk in for Mark (who doesn't know what happened in the barn) that he's dealing with at least one extremely dangerous woman. And more are on their way for a "reunion" in which he's meant to play an unwitting role -- unless Elizabeth can overcome her own compulsions to help him escape....
However, Wendigo was wondering until nearly the end whether Fascination was really a vampire film. Blood drinking alone doesn't cut it for him, though supernaturalism isn't necessary, either. What sealed the deal for him is the power of the bloodlust the cult women clearly show, first when Elizabeth leaves a wounded Eva for the rest of the cult to consume, and finally in Elizabeth's own overpowering response to the bloody spectacle. Though the women are mortal as far as we know, Rollin presents them as spectral, ethereal figures, often in diaphanous costumes, and for all intents and purposes supernatural beings. While Eva gets most of the screencaps, Wendigo found Elizabeth the more interesting character (and Franka Mai gets top billing, after all) because she goes through the sort of soul altering experience that largely defines a vampire movie for him. He also gives kudos to the leading man, Jean-Marie Lemaire, for an effortless portrayal of clueless chauvinist arrogance.
Elizabeth (Franka Mai) must choose between her supposed love for Mark and her more palpable love for the blood inside him. Below, her rendezvous with destiny.
Although he isn't ready to bump it into his top twenty list of vampire movies, Wendigo was impressed enough with Fascination that he'll probably acquire his own copy of it, and he's now interested in seeing more of Rollin's vampire films. That's as strong a recommendation as you can get.
Objects of Fascination
For a recent alternative viewpoint on Fascination from elsewhere in the blogosphere, check out the review at Ferdy on Films.