French filmmaker Jean Rollin made his career directing surreal erotic horror films. Starting with 1968’s Le viol du vampire, Rollin had made over 20 films by the time he decided to make The Grapes of Death.
The film starts with a group of workers spraying pesticide on vineyard. One of the workers isn’t feeling well and the boss informs him that they will be getting airtight masks for the spraying tomorrow. The movie cuts to Élizabeth (Marie-Georges Pascal) and her friend on vacation and taking the train to visit her fiancee at a vineyard in a small town. The women decide to get ready for departure and head to the bathroom. Élizabeth finishes first and returns to her car to wait for her friend. The vineyard worker enters the train. He had earlier complained to his boss about neck pain. Now he was on the train murdering Élizabeth’s friend. He then proceeds to sit in the car with Élizabeth and his neck and face starts ooze-bleeding. Élizabeth flees the train, noticing that her friend is dead. She flees to a nearby village looking for help. The first people she finds is a man and his daughter. The man has sores on his hand and refuses to help her or call the police. She enters a room and discovers a woman with her throat slit. The daughter informs her that her father has gone insane and murdered her mother. The man freaks out and reveals that his daughter has sores too and then kills her. Élizabeth runs and soon discovers that the entire village is infected with oozing sores and are acting all zombie like.
This was France’s first gore film and while shot on a low-budget and the effects could be better, they are effective enough. The movie is quietly creepy. There is very little dialogue and the film features the usual stylish camera work that Rollin’s used in most of his films. A few years later Rollin would make another zombie film called Zombie Lake. That film is one of the worst zombie films ever made. This film is one of the better ones, if you can call pesticide poisoned, face oozing, ,murderous people zombies.