Archive for the France Category

The Anti-Damsel Blogathon: ANNA KARINA & THE FILMS OF JEAN-LUC GODARD

Posted in France, movies with tags , , on August 14, 2015 by goregirl

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Merci beaucoup à mon ami Jo for inviting me to participate in the Anti-Damsel Blogathon; hosted by The Last Drive In and Movies Silently. With seventy-eight acting credits to her name Anna Karina has worked with some of the world’s finest directors including Luchino Visconti, Michel Deville, Jacques Rivette and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The work of this talented and accomplished actress stands on its own. That said, there is one director whom Karina has become best associated with; that director is Jean-Luc Godard. It is Anna Karina’s collaborations with Jean-Luc Godard that will be the focus of my piece. You really cannot speak of the actress or director’s careers without mentioning the other. Karina acted in seven feature length films directed by Godard from 1961 to 1966; Une Femme est une Femme, Vivre Sa Vie, Le Petit Soldat, Bande à Part, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou and Made in U.S.A. After seeing Karina in a bubble bath in a Palmolive advertisement Godard contacted her and offered her a small part in his film Breathless. Learning she would have to appear nude she refused the role. A short time later Godard offered Karina the lead role in the film Le Petit Soldat. Under twenty-one and still considered a minor Godard had to arrange for Anna’s estranged Danish mother to be flown in to sign the contract. In an interview on the French television show Cine-Panorama in 1962 Karina is asked about answering an advertisement placed by Jean-Luc Godard to secure her first role with the director. Apparently Godard had placed an ad for an upcoming film looking for “an actress and a girlfriend”. Godard as previously mentioned had in fact contacted Karina after seeing her Palmolive commercial. After more than a few snarky comments from peers Karina queried Jean-Luc about these insults who informed her of his advertisement. Karina was completely unaware of this ad when she agreed to take a role in his film and was clearly horrified. Karina did not only become Godard’s girlfriend the two were married March 3, 1961. Anna Karina co-founded (along with Jean-Luc Godard) the production company Anouchka Films. Their film-making union has endured time and have become classics of New Wave French cinema. Their marriage on the other hand ended in 1967 not long after their last film-making collaboration. Having seen and enjoyed twenty-one of Karina’s turns as an actress there was something very special and unique about those films she made with Godard. There was a certain magic, a natural ease to her movements, her facial expressions; Godard seemed to capture a fluidity that I am not sure I have seen another director duplicate. The vast majority of the Karina-Godard collaborations are on Criterion which have been graced with some amazing bonus materials, including interviews. I have watched several interviews with Ms. Karina where she speaks mainly on working with Godard in the capacity of director divulging little of their personal life together. Naturally Karina does make subtle references like in a recent interview specifically made for the Criterion release of Bande à Part where she states she would swear up a storm at home to get Godard’s attention. She mentions when they were making a film his interest in her was unending but eludes while at home only shocking him would get his attention. In Godard’s 1963 film Contempt Brigitte Bardot’s character utters a barrage of foul language in response to a comment from Michel Piccoli’s character. I think it is fair to say that there was mutual inspiration and respect between Godard and Karina; each bringing out the best in the other’s work. This project is really about Anna Karina as she is my anti-damsel of choice. Whether she is playing a double-crossing femme fatale, a small time criminal or a prostitute, Anna Karina always brings her “A” game. Karina commands attention regardless of the role and insists you laugh, cry and shake your fist with her. A natural performer, a style icon and one of the most distinctive, creative and adept actresses to grace cinema; classic or otherwise.

Une Femme est une Femme (A Woman is a Woman) (1961)

In Une Femme est une Femme Anna Karina plays Angela an exotic dancer who desperately wants a child. Her lover Emile refuses her pleas and she eventually cheats on him with his best friend. Instead of ending the relationship it seems to strengthen it as Emile eventually gives in. While Angela is involved with two men in the story I would not exactly say this is a love triangle. Angela does not seem to have any emotional ties to Emile’s best friend Alfred. The film co-stars Jean-Claude Brialy and Jean-Paul Belmondo; but Karina’s Angela is definitely the focal point of the film and constantly commands the camera and the audiences’ attention. Angela is a willful young woman who does whatever is required in order to not only survive but thrive in her enviroment. Stubborn, contemptuous, determined, eccentric and entirely lovable. Refusing to talk during a fight with Emile she begins to pull books from the bookshelf and points to the words in lieu of speaking. The equally adamant Emile plays along. Despite her shenanigans the cheeky Angela clearly loves Emile and while sleeping with one’s best friend is a harsh way to make a point it is also tenacious; and tenacity is definitely one of Angela’s character traits. Solid performances, good chemistry, appealing visuals but Karina definitely steals the show in this one.

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Vivre Sa Vie (My Life to Live) (1962)

In Vivre Sa Vie Anna Karina plays a young woman who leaves her husband and child to pursue an acting career. The unsuccessful attempt at this career lands her in a record store barely able to scratch by and unable to pay her rent. She meets a man named Raoul through a friend who suggests she becomes a prostitute. The film is broken into twelve parts or “chapters” which represent the pinnacle moments in Nana’s life over a period of six months leading up to and following her stint as a prostitute. Vivre Sa Vie is the most heart-breaking and tragic of Karina and Godards collaborations. The young and attractive Nana seems doomed from the start. Her sober and business-like approach to the selling of her body evoked a great deal of empathy from me. Godard uses the quote “Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself” He comments in a an issue of Film Culture in 1962 “Indeed, Nana, like the song in Max Ophuls’s Lola Montes, is gracious, which means that she has grace and will be able to safeguard her soul while selling her body. In other words, Vivre Sa Vie will prove Montaigne’s saying that you must only lend yourself to others but give yourself to yourself.” Karina’s Nana is young and naive early in the film and her transition from amateur prostitute to professional happens frightfully quick. One of the film’s most iconic moments happens when Nana after being refused entry to her apartment for not paying her rent goes to see Dreyer’s Joan of Arc with her last few dollars. We watch both the film and Karina reacting to the film. In Godard’s world film is art and it is also life. Karina gives a sad, beautiful and captivating performance that I think is one of her best.

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Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier) (1963)

In Le Petit SOldat Anna Karina plays Veronica Dreyer; love interest of French revolutionary member Bruno Forestier. Bruno has been ordered to kill a National Liberation Front of Algeria member, meanwhile Veronica is a sympathizer with ties to the group. A love affair that threatens both of their lives. A political thriller love story with a Godardian twist. We often see Veronica through Bruno’s eyes; captivating, mysterious, sad and simultaneously peaceful and dangerous. The titular “Little Soldier” of the film is Bruno played by Michel Subor a revolutionary who doesn’t really seem at all sure what he stands for. His priority through the film seems to be acquiring passports for Veronica and himself to escape to Brazil. The film is heavily political and at times tragic but a thread of humor is sewn throughout the narrative. Although Le Petit Soldat is listed as 1963 it is the first film Godard did with Anna Karina. A follow up to his most commercially successful film Breathless. Karina gives an outstanding performance in this early role of her career. Karina’s Veronica drifts as if she is a ghost merely haunting the rooms she enters. Quiet but intense never showing her hand, keeping all that meet her questioning. She is young yet seems to possess a soul much older than her own. A past full of tragedy has harden her gentle form.

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Bande à Part (Band of Outsiders) (1964)

In Bande à Part Anna Karina plays Odile a young woman living with her Aunt. She meets two men at school, Franz and Arthur that attend the same English class. She tells the men about a stash of money kept at her aunt’s villa and the pair of men decide to plan a heist. The love triangle is a pinnacle part of the story in Bande à Part. Both men have strong feeling for the lovely but awkward Odile. Bande à Part was the first Jean-Luc Godard film I seen. I was absolutely in love with this film in my college years. Now having seen seventeen of the director’s films I have to admit, for me, it pales in comparison to his other work. In an interview specifically made for the film’s Criterion DVD release Karina states she was paramount in creating this particular character. She suggested Odile be a student, uncomfortable in her skin, old-fashioned and naive. Odile is all of these things yet she is keenly aware that she is attractive and does use it to her advantage. Odile becomes somewhat doleful by the end of it all declaring in the finale “I’m disgusted with life”. Karina never gave a bad performance in her career but Odile is not one of my favourite characters. The character is played exactly as Karina and Godard agreed she should be but frankly I would have liked Odile to be sassier and more assertive.

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Alphaville (1965)

In Alphaville Anna Karina plays Natacha Von Braun; it is the only Godard film she is in where she is not the focal point. The film is about Outlands secret agent Lemmy Caution played by the fabulous Eddie Constantine. Under the guise of being a newspaper journalist he comes to Alphaville with a mission. Caution is to find a missing agent, kill Alphaville creator Professor Von Braun and destroy Alpha 60 the computer that controls Alphaville. With the help of Natacha Von Braun, a programmer and daughter of Alphaville’s creator he wastes no time working towards the completion of his mission. Serial numbers stamped on human beings, emotions banned, poetry outlawed; Alphaville’s enviroment reflects an Orwellian estethic. Lemmy Caution with his trenchcoat, instamatic camera and Ford Mustang seems particularly old-fashioned in this futuristic world. Lemmy falls in love with Natacha, who does not know what love is, but inevitable learns. I had seen Alphaville years ago and remembered practically nothing of it. On a rewatch it has become one of my favourite Godard films! Alphaville is funny, strange, daunting and clever with superb performances. The mood and the visuals are one of a kind even in Godard’s unique film world. I loved the way characters would nod yes but say no and vice versa! I was also excited to see the great Howard Vernon who plays Professor Von Braun in the film. I cannot say enough good things about Eddie Constantine’s spot on performance but this is a piece on Anna Karina. And yes, like every single nook and cranny of this thing Karina gives a pitch perfect performance. Constantine and Karina have great chemistry together. It is easy to see how Natacha would be intrigued by Lemmy Caution in this ugly emotionless society. Natacha is an intelligent woman and thanks to her society’s emotion ban she has no bonds with anyone; including her father whom she comments early in the film she has never met. The dangers of suppression become clearly defined for her as she discovers where she comes from and what lies outside of the bubble she has been kept in.

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Pierrot le Fou (Pierrot Goes Wild) (1965)

In Pierre le Fou Anna Karina plays Marianne and shares equal screentime with the formidable Jean-Paul Belmondo who plays Ferdinand. Ferdinand, in an unhappy marriage and recently fired from his job runs away with the babysitter; a former girlfriend named Marianne. Marianne nicknames Ferdinand Pierrot “sad clown” which he hates but she insists on calling him anyway. He soon discovers that Marianne is being chased by gangsters and the two are forced into exile. Living life on the run begins to take its toll on the couple and their relationship in the most hilarious and insane ways! This film is so wacky! I think it is Godard’s funniest. I also think Marianne is Karina’s best Godard role and one of my personal faves of her career. Marianne is a take no shit, sassy, self-assured woman of the first order. She is also a criminal, a bad-ass, seriously sarcastic and a brutally honest vixen. Pierrot le Fou made me laugh regularly from beginning to end. Ferdinand and Marianne do some crazy shit including driving a car into the ocean. Many of my favourite parts are Marianne’s snide and sarcastic comments to Ferdinand. The ending just kills me! Although Marianne’s contribution towards the finale is not a huge surprise as her character would suggest she is full of surprises and capable of anything. Contempt and Pierrot le Fou are the two Godard films I always recommend to people who are not familiar with his films. Both are visually dazzling. The colors leap from the screen as do the Godardian antics. Both films are hilarious in my opinion and have lead characters that have strong chemistry. Above all both films feature two of my most favourite and unforgettable performances by women Brigitte Bardot’s Camille and Anna Karina’s Marianne.

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The following is taken from an interview Anna Karina did with Maurice Seveno at the Venice Film Festival where Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou was nominated for a Golden Lion. This was included as bonus material with the Criterion DVD.

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Made in U.S.A (1966)

In Made in U.S.A Anna Karina plays Paula, a political writer who travels to Atlantic City to meet a colleague and lover only to learn he is dead. Paula conducts her own investigation and encounters all manner of criminal types and dead bodies along the way. Politics, as you have likely discerned at this point of the article was a regular theme of Godard’s work in the sixties. Another common theme used in his films is pop culture. There are countless references made to other films, songs, books, poetry, comics and artists in every single one of his films. Besides the film taking place in Atlantic City New Jersey there are numerous mentions of Americana including pulp fiction, comic books, films and Disney. There are even several visual references, perhaps the reason it is called Made in U.S.A? I read in a review before seeing the film that Godard intended Made in U.S.A as a remake of The Big Sleep one, a classic film noir directed by Howard Hawks. It is a pretty loose interpretation but I think I get where he was going. We learn that Paula had not seen Richard for a while. Despite Richard hooking up with another woman, Paula feels a certain loyalty to him and risks her life to find out what happened to him. It is clear from the start that Paula is no stranger to trouble. Packing heat and knocking back the hard liquor she renders a man unconscious in her hotel room in the film’s first scene. Karina’s Paula is a tough, fearless, smart woman who refuses to be intimidated by anyone. Made in U.S.A is a visually impressive film whose eye-popping colors seemed to have been arranged with a purpose. Karina’s wardrobe blended with the enviroment seamlessly. Another solid and memorable performance from Karina playing a strong-willed and intelligent woman albeit less humorous than her Marianne character in Pierrot le Fou the two women do have similarites.

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In a career full of memorable and superb performances I regret only covering Anna Karina’s Jean-Luc Godard library. Although covering Karina’s entire impressive career would be a daunting task; it may very well be one I will take on in the future. There is no doubt that Jean-Luc Godard brought out the best in Anna Karina. Karina for her part clearly inspired Godard through this period. Godard’s most admired and I think best work was during the sixties. In a time when the entire world was going through immense changes Godard was helping to change the face of cinema.

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Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard on the set of Alphaville.

The Ravishing Repertoire of Jean Rollin at SEQUART ORGANIZATION

Posted in France, movies with tags , , , , , , , on August 9, 2015 by goregirl

Harry at Sequart Organization asked me if I would be interested in submitting a post of my choosing. My immediate reaction was Jean Rollin. Below is my final few sentences from this piece:

“Prior to 2013 I had only seen a handful of Jean Rollin films. In July of 2013 I did a list of my favorite five, at the time I had seen seventeen of his films; I have now seen nearly double that. I now count Jean Rollin among my favorite directors; a man whose work is as robust and beautiful as a newly bloomed rose. The ravishing repertoire of Jean Rollin deserves recognition and for those of us who love him his iron rose shall never wilt.”

To read my full post The Ravishing Repertoire of Jean Rollin click here.

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SINNER (1973) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in France, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2014 by goregirl

With 201 credits to his name I will never see every film that Jesús Franco directed. I have however made a goal for myself to see as many of his sixties and seventies feature films as possible. At ninety some odd films from the two decades even that is a bloody big mountain to climb! The man was a movie-making machine! Sinner aka Diary of a Nymphomaniac in quite a departure from his regular fare; at least what I have seen. Despite what its title might imply Sinner is actually one of the more conservative Franco films I’ve seen. Linda, the film’s “sinner” is a sad and complicated woman; I can not think of another character quite like her in a Franco film. His eccentric, sadistic and wild female characters featured in so many of his other films are an absolute shitload of fun but they certainly don’t elicit any sympathy from the viewer; nor are they supposed to. Sinner completely took me by surprise in the most spectacular of ways! I looked Sinner up by name on IMDB and nothing came up. I ended up finding it by looking up Jesús Franco. I can not believe I have found another error on IMDB. Sinner is listed as “adult”. You can not look up films listed as “adult” on IMDB. You can find them by doing a general internet search and usually the IMDB listing is the first thing that comes up. This is now the second time I have had to mention this very same thing. Joe Sarno’s 1968 film Vibrations is also a film listed as “adult” that is not “adult”. Frankly, I have an issue with not being able to look up “adult” films on IMDB. If it is a movie database why is it excluding an entire genre of film anyway? In any case, Sinner is most definitely not an “adult” film. There is no clitoris or penis shots and no graphic entry or cum shots. The sex that is included in Sinner is cut away from at the juicy bits. Sinner is a beautiful, sad, sexy journey and is one of Jesús Franco’s best.

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Linda Vargas picks up Mr. Ortiz at the bar she works in. Linda has a lesbian act that she performs with her friend Maria. She gets Mr. Ortiz good and drunk and takes him to a hotel.

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Mr. Ortiz and Linda arrive at the hotel and it isn’t long before the liquored Ortiz passes out. Linda calls the police, slits her own throat and falls dead on top of him.

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His wife Rosa is called to the station and questioned. Her husband claims to be innocent of the crime, at least the crime of murder, he is however clearly guilty of the crime of adultery. Angry, hurt and humiliated, Rosa decides to do an investigation of her own.

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Rosa first goes to see Countess Anna de Monterey.

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The countess tells Rosa about Linda’s ugly experience when she first arrived in the city from her family’s country home. Wandering about a fair a man offers to buy her candy floss and takes her on the ferris wheel. The man rapes her while on this amusement ride. The man is unknown to Anna but because we are getting a visual recollection we know that it is Mr. Ortiz.

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Linda is then raped by an employer.

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One day Linda drops some dresses off to Anna and spies on her having sex. The Countess catches her and the two engage in a love affair. Linda was the first lesbian experience that Anna ever had and it was new and exciting. Anna in turn gave Linda her first orgasm.

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Linda is attracted to a man who Anna has been seeing named Alberto. Linda has her first mutually consensual sex with a man and falls in love with Alberto. Alberto’s wife walks in on him and Linda and Alberto gets real pathetic real quick. He literally gets on his knees and begs his rich wife to keep him. “But Angela, don’t be like this. She means nothing to me.”

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Linda meets the sensual stripper Maria. The Countess comes home after a trip to find Maria and a photographer in her home. She shouts at them to “Get out” and the next morning Linda leaves without a word.

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Linda engages in a relationship with Maria who is involved in a lot more than just stripping. Soon Linda’s life becomes a whirlwind of modelling, drugs and prostitution.

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“Might she have killed herself?” -Rosa
“It’s very possible.” -Anna
“Did she already know my husband?” -Rosa
“She knew lots of people, slept with lots of people.” -Anna
“A nymphomaniac then?” -Rosa

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Rosa goes to the club where Maria works; it is the sort of place Mrs. Ortiz is not accustomed to frequenting unlike her husband. She asks for Maria. “You know Linda Vargas?”

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Maria takes Rosa upstairs to her room and shares some stories with her. But not before stripping down and getting comfortable.

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Maria tells Rosa about the time they were picked up with a bunch of their hippie friends for smoking dope. This is when Linda meet the doctor.

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The doctor pays her bail and asks her to come to his clinic to rest and be made clean again. The doctor ends up being yet another man in Linda’s life that shits all over her.

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Maria reads from Linda’s diary: “I finally realized that fucking is really all I like to do.”

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Rosa asks Maria if she can keep Linda’s diary.

Sinner is definitely not wild and crazy like a lot of other Franco flicks. It is a quiet, beautiful, well-made, stylish film with strong character development, an excellent story and a beguiling performance from its lead actress Montserrat Prous. All the supporting characters are watchable and memorable; especially Frano regular Howard Vernon. Vernon’s doctor seemed so genuine in his attempts to help Linda and ends up being a huge douchebag. I also enjoyed the hell out of the super sassy Kali Hansa who plays Maria, she had it going on! There were a couple of bits that gave me a chuckle that involved the manly photographer Mrs. Schwartz played by Doris Thomas. She calls Linda up to ask if she would be interested in posing for some pictures with Maria. Near the end of the conversation Mrs. Schwartz shoves the phone receiver into her stockings and starts stroking the bush. I thought she should have at least hung up the phone first! When Linda shows up to Mrs. Schwartz’s apartment Schwartz sweeps her off her feet Gone with the Wind-style and sits her on Maria’s lap. I don’t know if Mrs. Schwartz was intended to be but she was Sinner’s comedy relief. One of my favourite visual scenes was the early ferris wheel ride. Franco shoots the scene from several angles which gives it a real sense of menace. We feel Linda’s distress as the wheel seems to go round and round endlessly. She looks around desperately each time the wheel is at ground level hoping someone sees what is going on and stops the nightmarish ride. She pushes him away, the camera at times just inches from her anguished face. When the ride is over Mr. Ortiz rushes off leaving Linda sitting on the ferris wheel violated and aghast. This is Linda’s first experience in the city. We never learn why Linda doesn’t pack up her bags and leave right then and there. Linda stays on in the city even after a second violation by her new boss. It is insinuated that Linda’s homelife was unhappy. “I remember my village, my grandmother. She was the only one of my family who had any heart. The only one who understood me. Maybe I should have stayed with her. If God exists, I hope he hasn’t been as hard on her as he has on me.” Although we never learn specific details it never gets in the way of how the character evolves over the course of the film. Since Sinner begins at the end of the story, there is not a reveal for the viewer per se; although certainly Rosa Ortiz gets her closure. In Linda’s own words “I finally realized that fucking is really all I like to do.” “I want to give my body and my love to all my brothers and sisters. To all those whom life has offered only pain and misery.” Sinner as its alternative title suggests is a cinematic interpretation of the Diary of a Nymphomaniac; the story of a woman whose only pleasure in life was sex and whose abusive history led her to commit suicide at the age of twenty. Sinner has made me very excited to fill in the rest of the holes in my Franco viewing. Sinner/Diary of a Nymphomaniac gets my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Jesús Franco

Starring: Jacqueline Laurent, Montserrat Prous, Kali Hansa, Francisco Acosta, Manuel Pereiro, Howard Vernon, Doris Thomas, Anne Libert

DR. JEKYLL AND HIS WOMEN (1981) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in France, movies with tags , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by goregirl

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I am most intrigued by the work of Walerian Borowczyk. I have seen just two of Borowczyk’s 43 director credits; The Beast and Dr. Jekyll and His Women. Accompanying the film were trailers for other Borowczyk offerings. Particularly intriguing were Immoral Tales and Behind Convent Walls which look like they are packed full of sex and surrealism. Borowczyk’s films range genres but all the titles I read up on all seem to have a heavy sexual vibe. Borowczyk is quoted as saying “Eroticism, sex, is one of the most moral parts of life. Eroticism does not kill, exterminate, encourage evil, lead to crime. On the contrary, it makes people gentler, brings joy, gives fulfillment, leads to selfless pleasure.” The Beast and Dr. Jekyll and His Women was enough to prod me into investigating the director; the more I read about Borowczyk the more I feel compelled to seek out his films. Unfortunately it would seem that Mr. Borowczyk’s films are hard to come by. The version of Dr. Jekyll and his Women I watched is apparently the only uncut version that exists for the film. It was dubbed and had Dutch subtitles. Even under these less than ideal conditions I thoroughly enjoyed it. There really needs to be an original French language version with English subtitles! Until then you can pick this version up from Trash Palace.

Dr. Jekyll and His Women opens with a quote from Robert-Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“There was something strange in my sensations, indescribably new, and incredibly sweet. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be tenfold more wicked and the thought delighted me like wine.”

-Robert-Louis Stevenson

We begin on a dark street; a little girl is being pursued by a man who eventually beats her to death. We are than whisked off to the Jekyll manor where a celebration is going on. The celebration is in honor of the engagement of Doctor Henry Jekyll to Miss Fanny Osborne. Their youngest guest performs a dance recital while Henry’s mother accompanies on piano. Afterwards the group dine together and engage in a heated discussion on the validity of Jekyll’s research into transcendental medicine. We are shown violent snippets of murderous acts among the dinner dialog. Meanwhile the young dancer seen falling asleep at the table is resting in a guest room. A scream alarms the group who discover the body of the young dancer. Panic breaks out in the house as a maniac lurks and Dr. Jekyll is nowhere to be found.

This is definitely one of the more warped versions of Stevenson’s story I have seen adapted to film. The stuffy Victorian setting is rocked by Hyde’s presence. Doctor Henry Jekyll’s alter ego Edward Hyde is a sexual sadist with a huge penis. I specifically mentioned that he has a huge penis as we are given great detail and visual evidence. During an examination of one of Hyde’s victims we are told the penis is 6 centimetres in diameter and 35 centimeters in length. “Due to the unusually pointed tip and the hardness of the shaft Miss Victoria’s belly was perforated from inside just below the stomach.” Egadz! And this is the guy Henry Jekyll trusts with his life and has left all his worldly possessions to. Of course Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde are one person. Borowczyk uses two different actors to portray the two characters. Udo Kier is Henry Jekyll and Gerard Zalcberg is Edward Hyde. Kier is studious and mild-mannered as the Jekyll character is traditionally portrayed, but Kier’s version is definitely hornier than others. Kier is a fascinating man to watch and he is a perfect choice for the serious Jekyll. I instantly recognized Zalcberg from Jess Franco’s 1987 film Faceless; which I recently watched and reviewed. In Faceless Zalcberg plays Gordon an Igor/henchman type and he is pretty damn creepy. He is an unusual looking guy whose face and sinister performance stays with you. He plays Edward Hyde, another odious character, in Dr. Jekyll and the Women just as convincingly. The General is one of the guests invited to the celebration of Henry and Fanny’s engagement. What a crazy character! The General is surly and bombastic and exhibits some rather erratic behavior. He brings arrows with poisonous tips from “The Dark Continent” as an engagement gift (they cause a bit of havoc later on). For no apparent reason whatsoever, the General attacks Fanny who pushes him away causing the General to walk off in a huff.

“Look who’s come to join us…your lovely daughter! Eager and willing….”

The General is cornered and overtaken by Hyde. He is tied up and submitted to watching his daughter have sex. The General’s daughter voluntarily bends over and exposes her bare buttocks for Hyde. After the General is untied he slaps his daughter around and then gives her bare ass a spanking with some rope. Patrick Magee is as mad as a hatter and is very watchable as the General! Howard Vernon has a memorable supporting role as the combative and arrogant Dr. Lanyon. So where does the “and His Women” part of the title come in?

Dr. Jekyll doesn’t really have “women” he has “a woman”; that woman being the lovely Miss Fanny Osborne. The happy bride to be does a little spying on her intended. She sees Henry pour something into a running bath. Once immersed Henry thrashes about the tub and emerges as Edward Hyde. Later Fanny gets the wrong end of a poisonous arrow and also ends up bathing in Hyde juice. Fanny’s bathing transformation scene is the most superb, sexy, trippy thing and it doesn’t let up until the credits role. Celebrate with anarchy; stab your mother, drink blood, set some stuff on fire, The lovers remain in each other’s arms to the end. Marina Pierro has been featured in several of Borowczyk’s films as well as Jean Rollin’s Living Dead Girl. In Dr. Jekyll and the Woman Pierro plays the confident and comely Fanny Osborne and has a strong presence. She is also a lovely psychotic Hydess!

I can not lie, the dubbing and the subtitles are a bummer. It was distracting at times. There was also a couple of bits of editing that were sketchy. Why does the General attack Fanny? I have no idea if it was bad editing or I missed something really subtle that provoked it. I watched Dr. Jekyll and His Women twice in the last 3 weeks and it eluded me. A scene featuring Fanny and Hyde and the General’s poisonous arrows actually made me chuckle. Fanny has an arm full of arrows that she throws like a girl in Hyde’s direction and manages to hit him. Not scratch him but put an arrow right through his arm! This is followed by Fanny running down a set of stairs to stand idle as Hyde loads his arrow into his bow and shoots her. It is a mess of a scene but its a fleeting moment in what was otherwise an enthralling watch.

Dr. Jekyll and His Women offers drama, violence and sex that will probably make your mother uncomfortable; so don’t watch it with her. Borowczyk mocks the stuffy Victorian characters he focuses on and throws in an ample amount of sadism. Borowczyk’s violent, erotic, quirky and poetic Dr. Jekyll and the Women is a unique and twisted take on Stevenson’s classic story that is well worth a look. Highly recommended.

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IN CELEBRATION OF THE ENGAGEMENT OF DOCTOR HENRY JEKYLL TO MISS FANNY OSBORNE. The happy couple at a party in their honor.

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Howard Vernon plays the arrogant Dr. Lanyon.

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A dance recital is performed to entertain the guests.

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Patrick Magee plays the General. The General is one erratic and bombastic son of a bitch.

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Fanny spies on Henry and learns his heinous secret.

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Jekyll is amazed at how close a shave he got with that new straight razor.

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The General’s Daughter. “Look who’s come to join us…your lovely daughter! Eager and willing….”

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Hyde practices his archery while the General’s daughter cheers him on.

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Gerard Zalcberg plays Edward Hyde.

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Fanny Alexander played by Marina Pierro.

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Doctor Henry Jekyll played by Udo Kier.

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Burn all proof.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Walerian Borowczyk

Starring: Udo Kier, Marina Pierro, Patrick Magee, Gerard Zalcberg, Howard Vernon, Clement Harari

Favourite Five Series: JEAN ROLLIN

Posted in Favourite Five Series, France, Jean Rollin, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2013 by goregirl

The Favourite Five Series is a project I have wanted to start for some time. I get asked regularly on Twitter what my favourite film(s) are from a particular director or actor/actress. If you are interested in checking out the work of a particular director or actor it can be a daunting task deciding where to begin. I have watched several films from French director Jean Rollin this year so it seemed like the ideal person to begin my project with. Jean Rollin has 52 director credits listed on IMDB; I have seen 17 of these efforts. Rollin’s films have style, ethereal imagery, haunting atmosphere, vampirism, gothic backdrops, breathtaking locations, gorgeous sets, beautiful women in gauzy dresses and the beach (Jean Rollin does love the beach). Just a few of the things that make the director’s films a pleasure to view. I have enjoyed the vast majority of the films I’ve seen from Jean Rollin and would definitely rank him among my favourite horror directors. Rollin did make several adult films as well, which I have seen just a smattering of; this particular list is strictly Mr. Rollin’s horror films. Honorable mention goes to The Grapes of Death and The Nude Vampire.

THE LIVING DEAD GIRL (1982)

The Living Dead Girl is the only film on this list of five I have not reviewed. It did make my top ten for 1982 however. A young woman named Catherine is brought back from the dead after an earthquake disturbs some barrels of toxic waste, The woman awakes with a thirst for blood and returns to her former home the Valmont mansion. Catherine is joined by her childhood friend Hélène who lures victims for her to feed on. A nosy photographer catches a photo of Catherine and asks around town about the woman. She is told that the woman in the photo died two years ago. Is Catherine a zombie or a vampire? Daylight doesn’t bother her and she doesn’t have fangs, but she isn’t braindead either. The film also goes by the name Lady Dracula (West Germany) and Zombie Queen (Japan). Does it matter whether Catherine is a zombie or a vampire? Not at all. The Living Dead Girl is adorned with Rollin’s usual visual flare; great sets and locations and lovely ladies. Françoise Blanchard as Catherine Valmont is particularly appealing. Unlike his earlier efforts however this one has gore. A fair amount of gore too. Rollin has been candid about his dislike of gore and he seems slightly less comfortable in this territory. As much as I love The Living Dead Girl I admit it is not as slick as the other four films on this list. Nonetheless The Living Dead Girl is a personal favourite that had to be included.

FASCINATION (1979)

The Parisian privileged visit the abattoir to drink ox blood in an effort to cure anemia. Meanwhile a gentleman by the name of Mark escapes some fellow thieves with a bag of gold coins. He happens upon a mansion where he meets Elisabeth and Eva. Mark attempts to take charge but the two beautiful women flirt with him and eventually seduce him. They are more than happy to let him take cover from the gang of thieves waiting nearby. The mysterious Elisabeth and Eva are preparing for the arrival of the Marchioness and Mark would be the perfect addition to the guest list. Fascination is brimming with atmosphere and its cast is top-notch. Much of the film focuses on Eva and Elizabeth played by the lovely Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Mai and their unfortunate thieving guest Marc played by Jean-Marie Lemaire. As is the case with all of Rollin’s early stuff there is very little graphic violence. There is however an entertaining scythe versus knife fight. While there is the drinking of blood, this is not a vampire film. Fascination is a beautiful, sexy, haunting film full of lovely images complimented by a melodically eerie soundtrack, an intriguing premise and devilishly delightful performances. To read my full review for Fascination click here. Unfortunately I was not able to find a trailer for Fascination so I included a non-spoiler clip instead.

LIPS OF BLOOD (1975)

A picture used in a perfume ad sparks a childhood memory in Frédéric. He recalls meeting a beautiful woman dressed in white as a child. Jennifer, the young woman gives him shelter where he sleeps for a while until she sends him off to his worried mother. Frédéric locks the gate behind him promising to return. Frédéric questions his mother about the events who attempts to convince him that they never occurred. He believes Jennifer may dwell there still and is soon embarking on a journey to find her. Along the way he awakens four female vampires and attracts the attention of some unsavoury sorts who want to prevent him from accomplishing his task. This is Frédéric and Jennifer’s story; a gothic romance with a vampire twist. Lips of Blood is full of beautiful surreal scenes not to mention a breath-taking finale! It ranks as one of my favourite finales in a vampire film. The kill scenes are all stylish and appealing albeit not graphic and Rollin adds some great flourishes like the bats in the coffins. Jean-Loup Philippe is strong as Frédéric and the bewitching, fresh-faced Annie Belle is absolutely lovely as Jennifer. Lips of Blood is a beautiful, haunting and deliciously sexy film with a gothic vibe and a great jazzy score. To read my full review for Lips of Blood click here.

THE SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES (1971)

Newlyweds Isla and Antoine stop to visit Isla’s cousins. Isabelle, a woman claiming to be the men’s lover informs Antoine that Isla’s cousins are dead. The couple decide to visit the castle anyway. They are greeted by two nubile female servants and are put up for the night. Isla, upset by the news of her cousin’s deaths sends Antoine to sleep elsewhere. While undressing Isla is visited by a woman named Isolde who seduces and feeds on her. The restless Antoine checks on Isla; finding her missing he searches the castle. Antoine witnesses a disturbing ritual so surreal he thinks he might have dreamt it. It will not be the last disturbing or surreal sight for Antoine as the couple soon learn the mystery behind the cousin’s demise. The Shiver of the Vampires is jammed packed with atmosphere but it is also Rollin’s most humorous entry thanks to the two eccentric cousins. Jacques Robiolles and Michel Delahave are absolutely superb in their roles. Sandra Julien and Jean-Marie Durand who play Isla and Antoine, Kuelan Herce and Marie-Pierre Castel who play the two female servants and especially Isolde played by Dominique are all memorable in their roles. The Shiver of the Vampires is particularly stylish and I really enjoyed Rollin’s use of color. The crumbling Castle and its decor are completely outrageous and fantastic! The Shiver of the Vampires is stylish, sexy, strange, funny and totally enthralling. To read my full review for The Shiver of the Vampires click here.

THE IRON ROSE (1973)

A young woman alone on the beach finds something that appears to be a rose sculpted from iron. Later she is seen at a wedding reception where she meets a young man. The two make a date and meet with their bicycles at the train yard. They eventually come upon a graveyard and decide to take a tour. The couple have sex inside a crypt and when they emerge later it is dark. When they are unable to find their way out of the graveyard fear sets in and their imaginations get the better of them. The Iron Rose was Rollin’s first foray outside of the vampire genre and is psychological horror. The Iron Rose is deliberately paced with an atmosphere of oppression, mystery and foreboding. Hugues Quester gives a strong performance as the young man but it is Francoise Pascal’s performance that really mesmerizes. Pascal’s natural beauty and ease make her easy to watch but her range of emotion and her subtle trip into madness is what really shines in The Iron Rose. A simply gorgeous, poetic and hypnotizing film and absolutely one of Jean Rollin’s finest. To read my full review for The Iron Rose click here.