JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: The Escapees (1981)

Also known as Les paumées du petit matin (The Dawns of the Early Morning) and The Runaways, this begins in a mental asylum run by nuns. There, Michelle (Laurence Dubas) has returned after escaping and is placed in a straitjacket. She’s soon freed by a new patient named Marie (Christiane Coppé) and the two run off for a series of adventures, such as watching a burlesque show, meeting a thief named Sophie (Marianne Valiot) and becoming part of a sailor crew who promise to take them away. Yet at the bar of Madame Louise (Louise Dhour) a series of rich people — one of them is Brigitte Lahaie — take our heroines to a mansion and attempt to assault them. What follows is death, both murderous and suicidal, as the runaways attempt to escape a world that won’t allow them to.

I’m a big fan of movies where women find friendship and escape in doomed journeys. Beyond Thelma and Louise, we can also add Baise-moi and Times Square. There are many more, but this feels very close to the punk of the latter, as Jean Rollin leaves the beaches and castle behind but doesn’t forget to have doomed and dreaming girls as they wander and seek something, anything.

There are no vampires in the world of this film but can these two women find magic? Perhaps not. There is an incredible figure skating sequence which is not something that I thought I’d ever say about a Jean Rollin film.

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