'The Escapees' Is the Rollin Film That Almost Got Away

Jean Rollin himself may not have thought highly of The Escapees, but fans of his style will appreciate this new DVD release.

The Escapees

Director: Jean Rollin
Cast: Laurence Dubas, Christiane Coppé
Distributor: Redemption
Year: 1981
US DVD release date: 2015-05-26

In the interview that accompanies the new DVD edition of The Escapees, the late filmmaker Jean Rollin explains that he considers it a failure, too long and too talky, and that basically it went unreleased until he let it show on TV. His assessment is fair in comparison with his more ethereal accomplishments. However, fans of his style and obsessions will appreciate even this minor glimpse of what's clearly a Rollin film.

Like so many of his movies, it's about two waifs wandering the world. This time they're not vampires or zombies, although one of them might as well be, for Marie (Christiane Coppé) begins as an almost catatonic inmate in a girls' home where Michelle (Laurence Dubas) is her opposite: a loud troublemaker in a straightjacket. When Michelle somehow triggers Marie into a responsive state, they run away and spend time with gypsy entertainers, then a nightclub, and finally the swanky house of a rich pervert who wants the girls to join an orgy. It doesn't go as planned.

Rollin blames a talky professional screenwriter, saying he tried to combine his own script with the new script while filming. This may explain the bizarre sequence where the girls are told the same news in two different ways (that a friend wants to take them to Brazil) and they react with surprise both times. The opening scenes in the asylum have privileged moments of sombre dreaminess, but yes, Michelle talks too much and too repetitively. A graceful moment where Marie ice skates (pinpointed by what must be an imaginary spotlight) leads to another long dialogue that Rollin dislikes. Apparently, he didn't enforce his will as strongly as he might have during filming.

We return to harsh, dreamlike sensations after the explosive climax. Despite the several intense and/or languid moments of visual poetry, this wayward movie would be a bad introduction for neophytes to Rollin's world. It's for connosseurs who have already tasted his best dishes and are looking for one last sour and tangy aftertaste. This HD remastering for Blu-ray is surely the best the movie has ever looked.





The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.


Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.


Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.


Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.


'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.


10 Key Tracks From the British Synthpop Boom of 1980

It's 40 years since the first explosion of electronic songs revitalized the UK charts with futuristic subject matter, DIY aesthetics, and occasionally pompous lyrics. To celebrate, here's a chronological list of those Moog-infused tracks of 1980 that had the biggest impact.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.


'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.


The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.