Oh, Jean Rollin, why do I bother? Oh yeah, the cinematography. This man creates stunningly beautiful films with lots of nudity. That should be a huge win but he also manages to make 80 minutes feel like three hours. Consequently, he gets reviewed as poetic and surreal but that is just code for boring nonsense. And no, Europeans, it’s not because I have a low attention span or am somehow less sophisticated. It really is slow and silly. That being said, The Iron Rose has a nice dark twist at the end that, coupled with the relief that it was nearly over, made me feel it was a better Rollin film than most.
A couple meets at a party and plan a day date bicycling about. They end up in a cemetery, fool around, and find themselves stuck there at dusk, unable to find a way out and sure the main gate must be locked. For some reason that I never understand there is a clown wandering about, but nothing ever happens with him. I guess that’s just a French thing, I don’t know. Anyway, he presumably goes home to entertain and/or scare children. And, what follows is a potentially interesting exploration of imagined fear and perception. I say potentially because it’s mostly dull. Also, this dude keep freaking out and getting hostile with this woman and she keeps making out with him when he calms down. Ugh, yawn, there really are more clever ways to express sexual tension, you know.
As the night continues however, things transform. Instead of taking turns being upset, the young woman begins to embrace the situation and wax poetic about death. This provokes the young man to freak out more and leads to some funny moments (hopefully intended, it could just be me.)
And then after all the surreal meandering, we get to the very end, and the few scenes that warrant this movie a horror label. A good choice for a sample of Rollin’s work, but like most of his films, it’ll help you fall asleep more than anything.