Les Raisins de la Mort (The Grapes of Death / Pesticide / Las Uvas de la Muerte, 1978)

Spanish DVD edition without english subs to the left; The Old US Synapse DVD edition to the right

Text below written 2019-05-19

A SLOW but very atmospherical dystopian and apocalyptic film about countryside people turning into murderous maniacs, maybe also into the living
dead after drinking wine submitted to pesticide. An environmental commentary too for sure from the French horror master.

Beautifully filmed in amazing surroundings in, i think ... not sure, different parts of Occitania in southern France i.a. Gorges de la Dourbie in the massif
central and in Montmejean (it's listed in the end credits), in areas where the old christian sect, the mysterious Khatar resided, brutally persecuted by
the Catholic Church. An area where the occultist, author and SS Obersturmfuhrer Otto Rahn hunted the secret of the Khatars and the Holy Grail (as
seen in Richard Stanley's fantastic documentary "The Secret Glory of SS Obersturmfuhrer Otto Rahn", a truly haunting film.
Oh, a minor diversion there, sorry, but this just underpins that the area where this film (mostly) takes place has a mysterious aura about it


The film starts with pictures of wine-growing workers using pesticide on the plants, and with one worker suddenly feeling ill. Next, we see 2 women
travelling by train, Elizabeth (Marie-Georges Pascal, very fine in the role) and Brigitte (Evelyn Thomas). The before mentioned worker climbs onboard
and quickly develops a nasty goey face wound, like if he rots, and suddenly he turns into a maniac full of murder frenzy and kills Brigitte. Elizabet, who
was on her way to a meeting with her boyfriend, working in a wineyard, has to change her plans and hastily leaves the train, fleeing from the maniac.
She's running in panic and soon enter the before mentioned beautiful but desolated landscape and finally an ancient village with most houses in ruins
where she seek shelter with a farmer family, a father and daughter, but he's a wound too and ...

How to not use a pitchfork

Elizabet continues running and soon hooks up with blind girl Lucie (Mirella Rancelot) and everyone they meet seem to have turned into murder crazed
maniacs with ugly sores on them. Felix Marten and Serge Marquand is a pair of un-contaminated hunters and Brigitte Lahaie (in one of her first, if not
her first, role outside of Porn) as a mysterious woman are some she meet during her unwanted apocalyptic adventure. Will she survive ?

I've always thought of Jean Rollin as something of a French equivalence to Spain's Jésus Franco, both were offbeat filmmakers, both had a lot of
nude Vampiresses in their films and both also made porno movies, but Rollin wasn't as nihilistic and dark as Jess and he was more sensual with his
stories of nude vampiressess in coffins (without the streaks of misogyny that Jesse sometimes had). Jess Franco was more profilic though, maybe.

This Spanish DVD edition is presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.66:1 and with French audio WITHOUT any english subtitles

The old US Synapse DVD in the same aspect ratio and as extras an interview with Jean Rollin and Brigitte Lahaie plus trailers