Jean Rollin does zombies, sorta, in GRAPES OF DEATH. The zombies are not technically zombies, they are the pesticide infected. Which makes this more like Romero’s THE CRAZIES than it does NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
GRAPES OF DEATH is a wild, careening ride into madness among the ruined world of a French village. Our hero is Marie-Georges Pascal, who is trying to reunite with her fiancee and vineyard owner. She is the wide eyed witness to the rolling chaos wrought by the insensitive, callous owners who did not take proper precautions with their staff before spaying the vineyard down with a new, deadly pesticide.
While Pascal never blinks her gorgeous eyes, Mirella Rancelot is completely blind. As the two stumble across the rocky terrain, Pascal silently witnesses the death and terror as Rancelot, arms in front of her, cries out for her caretaker and pleads for information.
The infected are still conscious, though, clearly insane. While they hunger not for brains or human flesh, they crowd around the uninfected subjecting them to unspeakable horrors and nasty torture. Especially, nasty is the end of Rancelot who is nailed to the door of her house, before losing her head.
Brigitte Lahaie steals the show in so many gorgeous ways. First as a creepy squatter with a nonsensical story, then as the queen of the infected, only to finally reveal herself to the two hunters who are taking care of business, shotgun style. The fiery crash that ruins Lahaie’s face is one of the high points of the end of this weirdly entertaining movie.
One of Rollin’s more coherent and successful genre pictures, I’d say.