Archive for brigitte lahaie

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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FASCINATION (1979) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in France, horror, Jean Rollin, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2013 by goregirl

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Jean Rollin’s Fascination was another film I had not seen when I did my top ten lists for the 1970s. It bugs the hell out of me that I left a gem like Fascination off of my 1979 list. Jean Rollin is a master of style. Vampirism, gothic backdrops, woman in sets of two, gauzy dresses that expose women’s naked bodies and the beach is imagery often repeated in Jean Rollin films. These things along with amazing locations, haunting music and appealing performers are what make Rollin’s beautiful films so ethereal and dream-like.

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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.

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Fascination begins with the opening of a large tome that looks ancient and important; a hand turns the pages delicately and gently caress its pages. Two woman are seen dancing on a bridge as a phonograph plays. Than a visit to an abattoir. The floor of the abattoir is soaked with the blood and gore from the animals slaughtered there. A woman dressed completely in white seems particularly out-of-place. Beside the woman in white is another dressed completely in black. The woman in white dips her finger in the blood and flirtatiously rubs it over her lips much to the delight of the butcher. This was the first few minutes of the film and I was already completely engrossed.

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There is some violence in Fascination but it is not terribly graphic. Rollin has mentioned in interviews that he isn’t crazy about the gore; he is definitely more about the sexy ladies than the horror. Well sexy ladies and mood and atmosphere which Fascination’s pot is boiling over with! Fascination does have its violent moments, two of the best feature a particularly blood thirsty group of women in sheer gowns and a rousing scythe versus knife fight. Eva and Elisabeth are sophisticated, eccentric, sexy, violent and confident and Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Mai are the perfect leading ladies to pull it off effortlessly. I also enjoyed the hell out of Jean-Marie Lemaire who plays the handsome and cheeky Mark. Fascination is not a vampire film at least not in the traditional sense. It is about blood thirst and there is drinking of blood but these women are not living dead creatures, What these women do is unnatural but not supernatural. There is not a fang to be seen, there are however a fair amount of breasts. There is all sorts of nudity in Fascination and a few sex scenes too. I would advise taking a pass on Jean Rollin’s library if that sort of thing offends you.

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Fascination is a beautiful, sexy, haunting film full of lovely images complimented by a melodically eerie soundtrack, an intriguing premise and devilishly delightful performances from Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Mai who are complimented nicely by a well-suited leading man in Jean-Marie Lemaire. Fascination has been one of my favourites from the dreamy and surreal world of Jean Rollin. My highest of recommendations; a perfect score.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Jean Rollin

Starring: Franca Maï, Brigitte Lahaie, Jean-Marie Lemaire, Fanny Magier, Muriel Montossé, Sophie Noël, Evelyne Thomas, Agnès Bert, Cyril Val, Myriam Watteau, Joe de Palmer

FACELESS (1987) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Film, France, horror, jess franco, movies, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2013 by goregirl

This weekend I had a serious 80s fixation! It started with Faceless than I moved to the excellent White of the Eye (1987), on to the hilarious Polyester (1981), a little hardcore porn (porn of the weirdest, funniest and most surrealistic variety possible) with Night Dreams (1981) and finished up with the wonderfully wacky Dr. Caligari (1989), It was a helluva fun weekend of movie watching! I also went to two documentaries as part of my DOXA experience; Casting By and Perverts Guide to Ideology. Wine was drank. It was a good weekend.

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Christmas in Paris; a man and two women, clearly well to do, are being driven around in a limousine. The man is a doctor named Frank Flamand. Flamand is confronted in a parking garage by an unhappy customer. Quicker than you can say The Awful Dr. Orlof the angry customer is throwing acid in the face of Ingrid Flamand. Forward to the immediate future and we meet model Barbara Hallen who decides to buy her coke from the wrong sort of people. People who in fact want to remove her face and affix it to someone else’s. Clearly it is the good Dr. Frank Flamand behind the shenanigans. Flamand along with the help of his assistant and lover Nathalie are stealing women’s faces to save Ingrid’s. Problem is Dr. Flamand is not a good enough doctor to pull it off. He seeks the aid of Dr. Orlof who hooks him up with a former Nazi doctor Dr. Karl Heinz Moser. Meanwhile Barbara Hallen’s father has hired private detective Sam Morgan to find her.

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The godawful 80s theme song played during the opening credits is played multiple times throughout the film. They repeat it so goddamn many times it got to be funny after a while. I enjoyed the hell out of Faceless but I am always going to think of that theme song when I recall it. It is featured in this trailer too; check it out…

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Faceless features a cast of familiar and talented European actors and actresses that is well worth noting. I’ll also add that this is one of the more coherent Franco films. The dialog is actually not bad, although there are a couple unintentional laughs. Nathalie is pretty gleeful about her acquisition of reluctant female face donors. Nathalie is a sadistic, horny, kleptomaniac played perfectly by Brigitte Lahaie. She is all sorts of fun! Helmut Berger is serious as cancer playing the mad doctor; that Helmut Berger guy is great. Sam Morgan the private dick takes a few good beatings and really steps up to the plate to rescue the damsel; Christopher Mitchum was well cast and looks plenty defectivey. That is one really bad-ass acid scar on poor Ingrid Flamand. Ingrid is upset a lot and is getting sick and tired of all the damn surgeries. Ingrid is not the most enviable role in the film, but Christiane Jean does just fine. The doctor’s handyman Gordon is an Igor type character Franco-style. He does whatever is asked of him but sometimes takes liberties with the face donors. He is a pretty creepy dude and Gerard Zalcberg gets that. Anton Diffring harnesses his inner-Nazi beautifully as Dr. Karl Heinz Moser the former Nazi doctor. Caroline Munro does a sweet job as the big-80s-haired coke snorting kidnapped model Barbara Hallen. Her father Terry Hallen is played by Telly Savalas who has a few brief scenes in an office. And finally, I loved the little cameo where Howard Vernon plays Dr. Orlof as he did for Franco previously in the titular role of The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962).

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Faceless is 100% pure Jess Franco and is without a doubt one of my favourite post 70s offerings. It is definitely one of Franco’s most energetically paced not to mention gorier films. Violence and action appear at regular intervals ranging from acid in the face and a drill to the head to a hilarious fist fight and an axe versus fire extinguisher battle. It’s all fun and games until someone loses their face! The story is not exactly original, Franco himself directed the aforementioned The Awful Dr. Orlof with a similar premise. But rest assured, this is clearly a product of the 1980s, the huge hair, big shoulder pads, bad music and graphic gore of the decade make this film shine.

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Faceless is screamingly 80s; sleazy, violent, funny, well-cast and a real riot! Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Jesus Franco

Starring: Helmut Berger, Brigitte Lahaie, Telly Savalas, Christopher Mitchum, Stéphane Audran, Caroline Munro, Christiane Jean, Anton Diffring, Tilda Thamar, Howard Vernon

CALVAIRE – The Ordeal – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Belgium, horror, movies with tags , , , , , on May 6, 2010 by goregirl

This is the first Belgium horror film I’ve reviewed on this blog and it won’t be the last. I was really impressed with Fabrice Du Welz’s first feature length directorial debut and I am officially excited to see his second film Vinyan. Calvaire was recommended to me some time ago by my friend Scott over at Anything Horror who chose this film as one of his favourites from the last decade. There are some familiar themes in Calvaire but Fabrice Du Welz definitely leaves his own unique signature. The result is a beautifully shot, biting and original horror film that will stay with you long after the credits role.

Marc Stevens is a singer who travels across the country with his act. After a gig at a nursing home he heads out for a long journey towards his next booking at a Christmas gala. He ends up lost and his van breaks down in the pouring rain. Fortunately a man wandering the area looking for his dog shows him the way to a nearby inn. Bartel, the owner of the Inn shows him to a room where he spends the night. Marc awakes the next morning to find Bartel has taken the liberty of towing his van. Unable to get a hold of a mechanic Bartel does some tinkering with the van himself to no avail. The next morning Marc awakes to find Bartel missing and discovers some disturbing clues that suggest it is Bartel’s intention to prevent his departure.

Fabrice Du Welz, like any horror director has his inspirations. He cites Hitchcock’s Psycho and Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre among others on the DVD’s special features. Let’s face it; there have been countless horror films that have been inspired by these two classic films. But I love the way he used his favourite bits. He reworks the scene from Psycho where Norman Bates makes a meal for Marion Crane and sits and watches while she eats, inserting of course, the Marc and Bartel characters. This is a fantastic scene and a buoyant yet chilling precursor to the action to come. Nothing is obvious in Calvaire. What appears to be a survival type scenario is so very much more. Bartel speaks often of his wife Gloria; a singer like Marc who he claims walked out on him. Bartel himself was formerly a comedian, but that was when Gloria was with him and he had joy in his life. It seems strange that there are no pictures of the woman he is lamenting and I had to wonder if Gloria ever existed. It is also possible that Gloria existed but may have never left. Perhaps buried on the property somewhere? Although Gloria herself remains a mystery, she is the force that drives the films action. Calvaire is full of questions that never get answered in any direct way, which is bound to frustrate some. Personally I loved the delivery and the film challenged me to use my noodle during and well after it was over. My husband and I were still talking about this film two days after we watched it.

Clearly Bartel isn’t playing with a full deck. Beyond his more obvious actions in the film, there are several more subtle clues that suggest his reality is warped. But at the end of the day, Bartel wants to be loved. This is what makes his pairing with Marc Stevens even more interesting. Marc is loved by many, but seems unable to display emotion when he’s not performing. He is loved, but unable to love in return. Marc and Bartel are a fascinating duo. Both actors, Laurent Lucas who plays Marc and Jackie Berroyer who plays Bartel are excellent. The opening scene where Marc is performing at a nursing home features the films only women including French actress Brigitte Lahaie (who still looks amazing at 50!). This strange, sad and amusing first act had me wondering where in the hell this film was going. The balance of the film is an all-male cast. The group of villagers are a grubby looking lot who Bartel seems at odds with and then we have Boris who spends most of the film looking for his dog, whom he eventually finds…sort of?! One of the films most surreal moments takes place in the village bar. One man gets up and plays a heavily creepy piece of music on the piano and the group gets up a few at a time and begin rocking back and forth to the music. Yep. Sometimes guys just gotta dance! A scene as bizarre as anything you’ll see in a Buñuel, Lynch or Anger flick!

Calvaire has an outstanding atmosphere of claustrophobia and tension that builds to the point of hysteria and then calmly finishes with the camera panning over wintery forest landscapes in the films excellent “non-ending”. The Inn and the surrounding forest is the perfect backdrop and add greatly to the pitch perfect mood. Visually Calvaire is without flaw. It definitely has its disturbing moments but is never really graphic. Nonetheless the scenes of violence are powerful and effective. This one is a little slower paced and may not have the gore some would like, but in my opinion films like Calvaire don’t come along often enough. Calvaire is a thought provoking, beautifully filmed, unique, surreal and disturbing experience. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4.5/5

Directed By: Fabrice Du Welz

Starring: Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursigny, Jean-Luc Couchard, Jackie Berroye, Philippe Nahon, Philippe Grand’Henry, Jo Prestia, Marc Lefebvre