The French haven't exactly been famous for their horror films, having entered the game only in the past two decades with a crop of directors including Eric Valette (
), Alexandre Aja (
), and Pascal Laugier (
House of Voices
That is, unless you count the prolific visionary (or charlatan, depending on your point of view) Jean Rollin (1938-2010), a master of the peculiarly Gallic genre, the fantastique, and who released 52 features between 1968 and 2009.
Rollin created unique, atmospheric, surrealist movies about scantily clad, nubile vampire girls and the often despicable men they preyed on. Never strong on plot, they are evocative tone poems with oddly compelling, remarkable dreamscapes. Watch them on a double bill with the vampire pics released during the same period by Britain's Hammer Films.
Kino Lorber of Redemption Films has restored a series of Rollin's notable films, including three due on May 29: His 1968 debut, The Rape of the Vampire; 1973's Requiem for a Vampire; and the most arresting of the three, Demoniacs, about two ghostly women who try to persuade the devil to kill a gang of rapists. (www.kinolorber.com/redemption/; $19.95 on DVD; $24.95 on Blu-ray each; not rated)
Route 66: The Complete Series.
One of the earliest TV series to capture the social vibe of the Sixties, CBS' terrific road story
, which was inspired by Jack Kerouac's subversive novel,
On The Road
, aired from 1960 to 1964 and featured Martin Milner as an Ivy League-educated wanderer who zigzags the country in his Corvette and his working-class pal. This is must-see TV of the highest caliber. The series is due May 22 in a 24-disc box set from Shout! Factory.
(www.shoutfactory.com/; $129.99; not rated)
La Jetée/Sans Soleil. French artist Chris Marker's stunning 28-minute piece La Jetée (1962) is considered one of the most influential sci-fi films ever made. The Criterion Collection has released it in a two-title package with Sans Soleil (1983), a poetic meditation about memory and human identity shot in Japan and Africa. (www.criterion.com/; $39.95 DVD and Blu-ray; not rated)
Car 54 Where Are You? - The Complete Second Season Nostalgic? There's always Fred Gwynne and Joe E. Ross' police sitcom which aired on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The series is being released by the small independent firm, Shanachie Entertainment. (http://shanachie.com/; $39.98; not rated)
Anno 1790 The Scandinavian film and TV invasion continues with this wonderful Swedish mini-series from MHZ Networks. A 10-episode police procedural set in Stockholm in 1790, it stars Peter Eggers as a detective who uses logic and forensics to fight crime in an age when guilt was by association and confessions were coerced by torture. He's also involved with a pro-democracy movement brutally repressed by the King. From the terrific acting to the production values and the stimulating stories, it's pure heaven for TV fans. (www.mhznetworks.org/; $59.95; not rated)
Martial arts champ Gina Carano is an assassin in Steven Soderbergh's frantic thriller
from Lionsgate. . . . Lauren German and Michael Biehn survive a nuclear apocalypse in the tense horror yarn
. . . . Seven of the world's best horror directors let loose in
The Theatre Bizarre
, a collection of creepy shorts from Image Entertainment.