Archive for Marina Pierro

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.

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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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