Queen of Blood 1966 is one of the films made by AIP, at the time Roger Corman was working for them. They utilized a lot of Russian film footage mostly because of their superior big-budget special effects (a soviet fable called Mechte Navstrechu from 1963) shooting the action scenes around the cannibalized footage and finished the film in 8 days. Produced by George Edwards and directed & written by one of MY favorite filmmakers –the very original visionary Curtis Harrington, Queen of Blood possesses a dream-like quality, partly due to the atmosphere and colors set forth by Art Director Al Locatelli(Dementia 13 (1963), American Graffiti 1973, Star Wars IV 1977), Set Designer Leon Smith and Cinematographer Vilis Lapenieks
More Soviet footage appears in other American International movies, Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women.
(uncredited The Little Shop of Horrors 1960, Lapenieks worked on Harrington’s other dreamy fantasy/horror masterpiece Night Tide 1961, the underrated The Hideous Sun Demon 1958, Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet 1965, Deathwatch 1966, The Hellstrom Chronicles 1971, That Certain Summer 1972 tv movie, M*A*S*H 1972 tv series, Kojak 1974 tv series) With costume design by T. Glinkova.
Queen of Blood (1966) stars Dennis Hopper(working once again with Curtis Harrington having done Night Tide 1961).
The plot centers around 3 astronauts on the rescue mission–John Saxon as Allan Brenner, Dennis Hopper as Paul Grant, and Judi Meredithas Laura James. Included are Basil Rathbone as Dr. Farraday who heads an international space agency that receives the distress message from Mars, and a cameo by film historian, collector, and founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland- Forrest J. Ackerman as Farraday’s assistant.
The year is 1900 and Earth has made contact with an Alien radio transmission. Saxon, Hopper, and Meredith stumble onto a crashed spaceship on Mars that is inhabited by a mysterious sole survivor Velena (Florence Marly) who glows the most trippy verdant alien green, and her hair, well– it is a marvelous killer bee bouffant.
They quickly discover that the hemophiliac Alien Queen as she is credited, crazes, no NEEDS blood to sustain herself, like a space vampire. Once upon the crew’s space ship, sets out to kill each of the members. Hopper begins to feel attracted to the Alien Queen who has a strange and sexually deviant mesmerizing lure, eventually, he realizes what she really is, “She’s a monster… We ought to destroy her right now!”
In the end, Meredith is the one who manages to destroy her but cutting her and she winds up bleeding to death. Things of it is, she leaves behind a vampiric aerie of her eggs. which Dr. Farraday decides like all inquiring scientific minds do putting the rest of us at risk, to take the Alien Queen’s spawn back to Earth to study. What he doesn’t realize is that she has already hidden hundreds of her eggs on board the ship. And though Allan keeps saying “We have to destroy them!”Rathbone is insistent on keeping those creepy pulsating red aspic eggs for research! Damn scientists!
Though the story may sound simplistic, Harrington brings his brand of atmospherics to each scene, injecting a sort of queer distorting sense of reality, and as Marly begins her blood feasting, the menace and the fantastical color palate permeates each frame like a nightmare set in space.
From Curtis Harrington’s book Nice Guys Don’t Work in Hollywood. He talks about the Soviet film Mechte Navstrechu in which he took footage by acquiring the American rights to the property, to work from in Queen of Blood. The Soviet version is about “the world’s natural fears of the nature of aliens…)… discovering at the end that the alien wants to be friends.”Harrington wanted to do the complete opposite of that with his film.
“I devised a tale in which the queen of the aliens–brought back to earth by a group of American astronauts –is a vampiric creature who seeks a new food source for her dying planet. The food source, as it turns out, is the human race. Some years later, it was very flattering to realize that I had created the prototype for a whole series of science-fiction movies dealing with monstrous creatures from outer space, beginning with Ridley Scott’s Alien.”
IMDb trivia –
The film was released in the United States in March 1966. Even before the release, its quality was sufficient for Universal to hire Harrington and producer George Edwards to make the feature film Games.
Director Curtis Harrington felt that Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) must have received some inspiration from his feature, saying “Ridley’s film is like a greatly enhanced, expensive and elaborate version of Queen of Blood”.
This was an ultra low budget production. The elaborate special effects were taken (uncredited) from two big budget Soviet productions, Mechte navstrechu (1963), and The Sky Calls (1959). The film is based on the screenplay for the earlier Soviet feature film Mechte Navstrechu (A Dream Come True).
John Saxon later claimed that Gene Corman had more to do with Queen of Blood than Roger. Saxon estimated that his scenes were shot in seven to eight days and that Dennis Hopper “was trying very hard to keep a straight face throughout” during the making of the film.
Czech actress Florence Marly was a personal friend of director Harrington. He later said that he had to fight with Roger Corman in order to hire her “because she was an older woman. Harrington would say, “I’m sure he had some bimbo in mind, you know? So I fought for Marly because I felt she had the required exotic quality that would work in the role.”Harrington also said Dennis Hopper “was like a part of my little team by then,” so he agreed to also appear.
Harrington had made his name with the feature Night Tide, which impressed Roger Corman enough to offer the director a film project. “Of course, I would like to do a more individual film than Queen of Blood”, said Harrington at the time, “but I can’t get the financing. However, the film is entertaining, and I feel I was able to say something within the context of the genre.”
Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl sayin gaze into my eyes and tell me, do I look green to you?
It begins where DR. JEKYLL & MR HYDE left off! A weird, fantastic adventure with a mad doctor who discovers how to turn animals into humans-but not how to control them! On a lonely tropical island he practices his black art! Changes wild beasts into creatures whose strangely human appearance and action hide raging animal passions! Something brand new in picture plots, with a specially selected cast, that will bring thrills to audiences and joy to exhibitors. Showmanship Plus!
HE DEFIED NATURE … creating men and women from animals … only to find that he could not control them!
Adapted from H.G.Wells 1895 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, Island of Lost Souls was directed by Erle C. Kenton (The Ghost of Frankenstein 1942, House of Dracula 1945, The Cat Creeps 1946) Wells was not content with the film version of his story, though it’s a stunning adaptation of his novel.Karl Struss’ (Murnau’s Sunrise 1921,Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931, The Sign of the Cross 1932, The Great Dictator 1940, Journey into Fear 1943, Rocketship X-M 1950, Limelight 1952, Kronos 1957 and yeah no laughing please… The Alligator People 1959) extraordinary cinematography constructs a perfectly smothering atmosphere though the story’s milieu is the openness of a savage jungle. With fantastical make-up effects by Wally Westmore(Sunset Boulevard 1950, The War of the Worlds 1953, Rear Window 1954, Lady in a Cage 1964, Village of the Giants 1965)
The first adaption of Well’s novel was filmed in France in 1913 called L’Ile d’Epouvante, then it was revisited in 1959 as Terror Is a Man starring Francis Lederer, and finally remade once again in 1977 starring Burt Lancaster as Dr. Moreau in The Island of Dr. Moreau, also starring Barbara Carrera as Lota and Richard Basehart as the Sayer of the Law. The 1977 version lacks the stifling ambiance that Erle C. Kenton’s film possessed.
Charles Laughton with his devilishly cherubic smile is perhaps at his most deliciously wicked as an evil scientist with a god complex the cruel, fiendish and merciless Dr. Moreau, who brandishes his bullwhip like Ilsa the Wicked Warden or me– eating chocolates when I go on a classic horror movie bender!
Moreau performs profane experiments, learning how to accelerate evolution by experimenting on animals turning them into hairy men-beasts by surgically grafting the organs, flesh and genes together. In order to keep his creations under his thumb, he cracks his aforesaid whip while gathering them together like a bestial congregation where they all chant the ‘laws’ set down by the Mephistophelean Moreau.
Moreau has been banished to his faraway Island by the scientific community for his bizarre experimentation with plants. Island of Lost Souls is a Darwinian nightmarish journey -from The Monster Show by David J. Skal-“There is an evocative social metaphor here as well: the animals have been given the promise of progress and social elevation. They have dutifully played by their master’s incantatory ‘laws.’ And yet it has all been an ugly trick; their elevation is simultaneously a degradation, and a bloody revolt ensues.”
Also Skal’s book points out a really interesting fact about Laughton’s casting of Dr. Moreau-“already acclaimed for his 1928 stage portrayal of another mad vivisectionist in the Grand Guignolesque A Man with Red Hair at London’s Little Theatre. It was in that production that he learned to crack a bullwhip, a skill also required for Island of Lost Souls…)… Laughton hated the part, though it remains one of his most memorable, an epicene gentleman-monster in a white tropical suit.”
Laughton’s portrayal of Dr. Moreau as an effeminate mad scientist is also noted by David J. Hogan in his terrific book Dark Fromance-Sexuality in the Horror Film- “As filmed, the story is a particularly unpleasant Frankenstein variant, remarkable for it’s oppressive ambience and unrelieved sadism. Charles Laughton played Moreau, a plump, primly bearded genius whose fussy manner and ice cream suit suggest a eunuch, or a malevolent child.”
Bela Lugosi is wonderful as the ‘Sayer of the Law’ —“Are we not men?” through his hairy make-up he conveys a pathos and ambivalence that must be credited to his fine acting skills, beyond wearing a cape, hovering over nubile maidens and climbing cobwebbed stone steps.
Drop dead gorgeous Richard Arlen plays Edward Parker who one his way to meet up with his fiancé Ruth Thomas (Leila Hyams) becomes shipwrecked on a remote Island when he interferes with the ships brutal Captain Davies (Stanley Fields) abusing one of the crew who is a hybrid man-dog M’ling (Tetsu Komai). Davies throws Parker overboard and Parker becomes Moreau’s unwelcome guest. Also on the island is Moreau’s reluctant assistant Dr. Montgomery played by Arthur Hohl who drinks himself numb on the road to redemption. Parker is surrounded by Moreau’s strange ‘Manimals’ servants and laborers who resemble monkey’s, bears, pigs and dogs.
Paramount conducted a nationwide search for the beauty who would play Lota The Panther Woman, which garnered a lot of publicity for the prerelease of the film. They chose a winner from each state, the prize being crowned the Panther Woman of America and the extra benefit of Charles Laughton getting to turn her into a beast!
Island of Lost Souls possesses a perverse eroticism as Moreau’ cold scientific intellectualism seeing neither the animals nor men nor beast-men as anything more than ‘subjects’ of his experimentation into genetic freakery, in particular his most gratifying creation of The Panther Woman Lota, played by Kathleen Burke. Parker is drawn to Lota “You’re a strange child” but he is repulsed when he discovers her panther like claws.
Unfortunately not not only does Lota begin to revert back into her feral origins- Moreau exclaims- “It’s the stubborn beast flesh, creeping back! I may as well quit. Day by day it creeps back!” –But she is as smitten as a kitten with Edward Parker. And while Moreau’s curiosity pushes him to see what would happen if he mates the lusting Lota with pure speciman of an exquisite man, Edward, his jealousy can not be subverted by his systematic spirit of inquiry. Laughton conveys even through his enigmatic silences, this ambivalence as he sweats and broods about the compound watching like a voyeur their every move. Dr. Moreau: “Did you see that, Montgomery? She was tender like a woman. Oh, how that little scene spurs the scientific imagination onward.” and watching while Lota and Parker sit close together her raw sexuality spilling over into the shadows, Moreau whispers, ” I wonder how nearly perfect a woman Lota is. It is possible that I may find out with Parker.”
Ruth (Leila Hyams) and Captain Donahue (Paul Hurst) track Edward down on the island and also become prisoners of Dr. Moreau’s tropical nightmare. Eventually she is chased around the island by Ouran, the man-ape played by Hans Steinke.
Not only is Island of Lost Soulsinflammatory with its deviance put forward by the idea of bestiality and the sexual attraction between Parker and Lota as The Panther Woman, one of the most provocative aspects of Island of Lost Soulsis it’s dealings with the vicious desecration of the body when Moreau explores his scientific delights in “The House of Pain” the operating theatre where he performs vivisectionist orgies on these poor beasts, their screams remain in my head as something I cannot un-hear or un-see. When the ‘natives’ realize that Moreau has himself broken these laws by killing Donahue (Paul Hurst) who tries to rescue Edward Parker–their prime rule not to kill or spill blood, in the epic fatalistic climax they drag him off to his own ‘House of Pain’.
from The Overlook Film Encyclopedia-Horror: edited by Phil Hardy-“Interestingly, though, Island of Lost Souls anticipates King Kong (1933) in its embodiment of the underground spirit of revolt, a spirit extremely timely in its appeal to victims of the Depression years, who not only resented their material deprivations but were all too willing to blame a system which appeared to thrive on an arbitrary suspension of the individuals’s inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. The delirious final revolt here, with the master dragged away to the ‘house of pain’ in which he created his subservient brutes, echoes the wilder excesses of the French Revolution…)…Presumably because of its vivisectionist aspects, the film was banned in Britain until 1958. Lost somewhere among the beast-men are Randolph Scott and Alan Ladd. Also appearing as one of the ensemble of beast-men-billed as a furry Manimal is Schlitze from Tod Browning’s Freaks 1932.
From David J. Hogan-“The atmosphere of the island is heavy and foreboding. Vegetation is obscene in its lushness and fertility. Humidity hangs like a curtain. It is in this unforgiving milieu that Moreau, the loveless father, passes his undesirable traits on to his children, and ultimately suffers for it. The manimals are merely extensions of Moreau’s own unchecked cruelty.”
Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl saying “they’re restless tonight” and so am I-hope I won’t see any of ya in the house of pain- Yikes…!!! Are we not film lovers!
Directed by Ford Beebe with a screenplay by Clarence Upson Young, with moody frames by cinematographer Charles Van Enger (Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein 1948, Bride of the Gorilla 1951) Set Design by (using sets from The Wolfman 1941 & The Ghostof Frankenstein 1942) Russell A. Gausman (Shadow of a Doubt 1943, Phantom of the Opera 1943, Touch of Evil 1958) and Gowns by Vera West.
Night Monsterfeatures Bela Lugosi in a lesser role as the butler Rolf, Lionel Atwill as Dr. King, Lief Erickson as Laurie the lecherous chauffeur, Irene Hervey as Dr. Lynn Harper, Ralph Morgan as Kurt Ingston, Don Porter as Dick Baldwin, Nils Asther as Agor Singh, Doris Lloyd as Sarah Judd, Frank Reicher as Dr. Timmons, Robert Homans as Constable Cap Beggs, Fay Helm as Margaret Ingston “How many of us are sane? You wouldn’t know, but I shall soon.”Cyril Delevanti as Torque and Janet Shaw as Milly the maid.
Universal billed Night Monster 1942 as a companion piece to The Mummy’s Tomb. starring Lon Chaney Jr.
Ralph Morgan plays a wealthy recluse Kurt Ingston who is bound to his wheelchair never to walk again. Ingston invites to his ominous Ingston Towers, the very group of doctors who left him hopelessly paralyzed with both his legs amputated (there will be a more stunning revelation later on). There, they are assembled at his secluded estate, shrouded in a menacing fog, to witness a miraculous healing session performed by an enigmatic Swami Agor Singh (Nils Asther) who can teach “a method by which man can grow new tissues at will.”
As Dr. Lynn Harper – “My study of the mind has convinced me how little we know of its powers.”
Agor Singh-“A little knowledge of the occult is dangerous. Unless it’s used for good, disaster will follow its wake. That is Cosmic Law!”
Margaret Ingston –“Blood… the whole house reeks of it. The air is charged with death and hatred and something that’s unclean”
Dick Baldwin-“How is that the blood didn’t dematerialize with the rest?”
Agor Singh-“There are certain details in the process that we are not allowed to explain to the uninitiated.”
Soon, one by one, the doctors turn up dead along with several meddling servants who know more than they should.
There begin the mysterious sightings of an eerie prowler who roams the fog-drenched grounds of the estate. Also, a guest at Ingston Towers is Irene Hervey playing the beautiful psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Harper who comes to see Langston’s unstable daughter Margaret, and mystery writer Dick Baldwin (Don Porter) who tries to solve the mystery of the murders.
Night Monster acts as an Old Dark House suspense-supernatural classical horror film that possesses an eerie otherworldly atmosphere while not filled with truly shocking moments, most of which happen within the mansion, Beebe has an instinctive touch at creating the air of peril and inducing some real palpable shudders. One of the more potent examples of this is when the terrified maid Milly Carson played by Janet Shaw is racing through the menacing fog-soaked night, pursued by an unseen attacker, off screen we hear her violent screams followed by the night sounds of crickets and swamp frogs. The differentiation between the dead stillness and the nocturnal symphony that resumes is quite effective. Also, a creepy touch is a skeleton that bleeds…
I’ve written enough here at The Last Drive-In, to sort of feel more relaxed about letting it rip sometimes. I’m hoping you’ll indulge me a bit while I go off on a tiny rant… I hope that’s alright…
Michael Winner’s film was a failure at the box office. So what!
You will undoubtedly read 9 out of 10 reviewers who will make too convenient a statement about The Sentinelbeing a Rosemary’s Baby rip-off. In terms of how I experience this film, there’s more to it than just a pat dismissal and a flip accusation of being derivative. I had first read Jeffrey Konvitz’s book when it was published in 1974, and then went to the movies to see his adapted screenplay The Sentinelduring its theatrical release– I was a ripe 15-year-old who was captivated by the grotesque and eerie imagery. I also saw Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 as a double feature with The Mephisto Waltz 1971.
Perhaps there is a conscious connection or homage made by director Winner between the devilish residents of the infamous Bramford Arms with its history of murderers and deviants –the facade filmed of New York Cities Dakota with a birds’ eye view of Central Park as Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into their house of Hades in Rosemary’s Baby 1968, perhaps my favorite film.
Alison Parker (Christina Raines) does come in contact with a similar Gothic building filled with oddball characters who wind up being the ghosts of murderers who once lived in the impressive Brownstone. I imagine the gateway to Hell would attract an evil ensemble of nasties. And to counterbalance Alison as the women-in-peril who must fight off the paranoia and heady mind games are the devil and his minions who toy with Alison in order to drive her mad enough to try once again commit suicide. Rosemary Woodhouse has the perseverance to keep her devils at bay and hold onto her precious baby even if he was to carry on his father’s legacy. Either way, it’s both buildings filled with eccentrics and the fog of paranoia that tie the two films together for me, but that’s where it ends.
As an amateur film buff and classic horror film aficionado, I think I have some authority when weighing in on whether director Michael Winner’sThe Sentinel is just derivative dreck and/or dribble.
And I discovered that it’s not just the average chimer-in nudnik on IMBd who feel the need to review this film in such a simplistic way that making the comparison to Rosemary’s Baby feels like just a cop-out to me.
It is even referred to as such in writer John Kenneth Muir’s entirely comprehensive book Horror Films of the 1970s– citing two film reviews during the time of The Sentinel’s theatrical release…
Look, as far back as its theatrical release and the critique was, to lump all ‘devil’ in the city, good vs. evil tropes with the 1968 seminal film by director Roman Polanski based on Ira Levin’s novel Rosemary’s Baby.
“…a crude and obvious imitation of Rosemary’s Baby, but much creepier and more bizarre. The unnerving ending obliterates the memory of the rest of the film… makes good use of several past-their prime actors in small roles but attempts at psychological insight, subtlety or believability fall flat (it’s a horror story not a autobiographical story of Aimee Semple McPherson for crying out loud… believability.) The great special effects at the end justify the film’s faults however.” Darrell Moore. The Best, Worst and Most Unusual: Horror films, Crowne publishing 1983.
I say that, we leave believability outside our unconscious abject fear chamber that is our most hidden dread-drenched mind when partaking in a little collective anxiety-ridden purge, right Dr. Jung?
And if critic Darrell Moore is talking about Ava Gardner–a gorgeous 55-year-old woman who is NOT past her prime, I hate when sexism and agism rear their ugly head! I’m heading toward the number, which continually amazes people, I read these kinds of misdirected comments all the time, some critic or person saying ‘she’ looks so good for her age-40ish!, does that imply that Ava and I should be embalmed already? Geesh, but in the words of Sophia Petrillo, I digress…
February 12, 1977 from The New York Times written by Richard Eder—“The confrontations are supposed to be terrifying but the most they offer is some mild creepiness… Mr. Winner has sweetened the mess with some nudity, a little masturbation and a dash of lesbianism.”
Interesting that the one bit of titillation Richard Eder manages to pluck out is lesbianism. In fact, that seems to be of most interest to many reviewers. Well, it’s 2016 and if a lesbian pop up in a film, it’s now about as outmoded and the shock obsolete as the landline and mullets… well I have seen people still sporting mullets.
And I’d like to say there’s more than just mild creepiness, there are absolute moments of mind-jolting terror. The exquisite color palette and the eye for detail support the sense of mystery such as the fabulous Houdini poster in Michael’s apartment -a centerpiece in plain sight that one might miss though it is there to instruct us on our journey through the dark maze of the storyline
If anything, the film lies closer in relationship to Roman Polanski’s The Tenant (1976) where another protagonist Trelkovsky portrayed by Polanski himself, is being mentally tortured by a group of people (Shelley Winters, Lila Kedrova, and Jo Van Fleet) in his building that may or may not exist ultimately driving him to attempt suicide. The fact that our heroine Alison is driven to madness and suicide by her seemingly harmless yet strange and quirky neighbors, that are actually, unholy denizens of hell definitely evokes comparisons in my mind with Roman Polanski’s equally disturbing THE TENANT (1976).
The fact that the main protagonist is driven to madness and suicide by her seemingly harmless but, actually, unholy tenants brings forth comparisons with Roman Polanski’s equally unappetizing in THE TENANT (1976)
I’d even go as far as to compare directorMichael Winner and writer Jeffrey Konvitz’s film has something of an Alejandro Jodorowsky flavor to it, with the grotesque imagery and surreal processional. Or might have influenced the very hallucinatory Jacob’s Ladder (1990)which deals with a soul’s nightmarish journey through unfathomable realms of consciousness that conjures demons and angels alike.
With The Sentinel some people are fascinated, some are repulsed and some just think The Sentinel is truly a retread of Polanski/Castle’s superior masterpiece.
Directed by the silent film era auteur Maurice Tourneur, (father of Jacques Tourneur Curse of the Demon 1957, Cat People 1942, I Walked With a Zombie 1943, Out of the Past 1947 ) this fantasy- horror film creates a tumultuous Mephistophelean voyage of surreal and striking imagery. This film has fast become one of my favorite fantasy/horror films…
Carnival of Sinners or La Main Du Diable (The Devil’s Hand) is a brilliant and hilariously dark morality play about being careful what you wish for and what is the meaning of life and the pursuit of physical pleasure and earthly desires, if you must lose your eternal soul in the end.
With an incredible score by Roger Dumas, that lends a magical soundtrack to the story!
Based on Gérard de Nerval’s novel, the film creates a hallucinatory world of monochromatic imagery, with noir-like edges & shadows, Gothic & theatrically macabre masks, and a gruesome narrative about a disembodied charmed left hand. Palau’s amiable little grinning devil is perhaps one of my favorite portrayals of Old Nick as he reveals himself to others as a mild-mannered civil servant in a bowler hat when he is actually on a duplicitous mission to abscond with the souls of desperate men.
It opens with a small village tavern filled with people who have been detained by an avalanche. These characters are comical and colorful as they all want to eat, and are suspicious of Roland, who we haven’t been introduced to yet. As they wait to be fed, a strange man dressed in black carrying a wrapped package under his left arm, his immovable hand gloved in stiff black leather storms into the tavern with a gust of secrets and urgency at his back. They immediately mistrust this man, as he is not amiable and does not wish to mix with them at all. He acts as if he is being pursued by the devil himself.
Well, maybe he is… him. He is called on the phone by someone asking for him by name. Once at the phone, the lights go out, and when they come back on and the chaos settles, the package is missing. He panics of course.
As it is a tradition at this tavern to be told unbelievable stories by Monsieur Notary. They plead with Roland Brissot to tell them what has brought him here. And so he begins to relate an incredible story…
Pierre Fresnay (The Man Who Knew Too Much 1934, Le Corbeau -The Raven 1943) is French artist Roland Brissot, who can’t get the girl or sell a painting until one night after Irène (Josseline Gaël) storms out of the little cafe frustrated with him for not being a success and a bore, Mélisse the cook (Noël Roquevert ) brings over a bottle of wine and offers to help the down and out painter. He tells Roland that he possesses a Talisman and that he’d like to sell him for merely one sou. That it would bring him great riches, love, and success!
When Roland follows him up to his room, he shows him a small wooden box, inside the curious box is an animated severed left hand. Mélisse explains to Roland that he purchased the Talisman a while ago, but he fears going to hell and wants to save his eternal soul, so he must pass this gift onto another man who is willing to buy it fully knowing the contract. Desiring to make Irène his own, and stop doing portraits of dogs. Roland agrees and pays the sous to the cook. At that moment, Mélisse’s left hand is severed and mysteriously wedded to Roland’s left forearm, and he is now the new owner of the Talisman. Of course, all his wishes come true and Irène comes back in total awe of her man. He becomes a great renowned painter and has riches beyond his wildest dreams. But with all these cautionary fables there is a kink in the chain. A chain that I will get back to in a short while.
A peculiar little man (Le petit homme– who is wonderfully enacted by Palau(Children of Paradise 1945, The Devil in the Flesh 1947, Le Corbeau 1943) is actually the devil himself who has been offering this deal for quite a while now and since it has been a year to the day that Roland made the wager of his immortal soul for the Talisman, he has come to collect.
From the moment Roland obtains the Talisman, women flock to him, his dog runs away in fear, and Irène cannot resist him to the point that he no longer can stand for her smothering love by the end.
The little man shadows his every move, playing little tricks on Roland so that he couldn’t possibly buy back his soul. He changes the time on the clock, he steals money so that Roland must scramble to put the fee together which doubles with every day that it’s come due. His life falls apart, his wife becomes less desirable to him and they become strangers, and all he wants is to be free of his left hand which is the harbinger of doom for him.
Will Roland Brissot find the next sinner to buy the Talisman from him… or will the Devil get his due?
As he relates his story, it unfolds as a marvelous dark fairytale, lensed with visual splendor dipped in a wonderful folkloric narrative and marvelous characters… including the other souls who lost their left hands and formed a special chain in the links of fate.
Roland’s journey is whimsical and harrowing, beautifully filmed by Arman Thirardwho photographed such masterpieces as Henri Georges Clouzot’sDiabolique 1955 and The Wages of Fear 1953 two of the best thrillers of all time!
Carnival of Sinners 1943 belongs with some of the great fixtures of ‘wagering your soul to the devil’, with William Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster 1941, and F. W. Murnau’s Faust 1926,
Roland has an enormous painting of Goya’s nightmarish diversion into hell hanging in his palatial mansion. It is the one of Colossus devouring his son. You would have to watch this film several times to catch all the wonderful details and devilish black humor!
Directed by J. Lee Thompson (Blonde Sinner 1956, Tiger Bay 1959, Cape Fear 1962, The Reincarnation of Peter Proud 1975) the outre surreptitious Eye of the Devil (1966) is an atmospheric smorgasbord of uncanny & haunting images encircled by the air of clandestine and provocative underlying forcefulness. With ease, the film pulls you into an esoteric world of ancient rites and beliefs and primal fears and urges to prevail against or more aptly in honor of the pagan notion of the rule & reign of the old ways, and the dominant elementals. It’s a bit of a cryptic occult meditation on reverence, immortality, sacrifice, and reaping what you sow.
Niven is urbane and resolute in his stature as Patriarch of the French family who comes home to the ancestral chateau to tend to the vineyards, (the past season’s crop has suffered) and take his rightful place during the rites of the ceremonial harvest. Phillipe must not only observe the deadly family secrets that have survived for centuries but more horrifying than that, it must continue to be passed down to his children.
Eye of the Devil works so well to capture our ideologies by the throat partly because of the convincing performances by the enormously talented cast who inhabit this secret world, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Flora Robson (Beast in the Cellar 1970 ) as Phillipe’s Great Aunt Countess Estell, Donald Pleasence as a malefic cleric Pere Dominic with a shaved head and solemnity, David Hemmings, Sharon Tate, and Emlyn Williams.
Both Sharon Tate and David Hemmings play two beautiful yet sinister figures lurking about. David Hemmings went on to do Michelangelo Antonioni‘s Blow Up (1966) and Sharon Tate whose first movie this was, went on to do Roman Polanski’s originally called Dance with The Vampires, now called The Fearless Vampire Killers, a comedic romp through the classical vampire story, though a little numbing possessed a few hilarious moments.
The film is an adaptation of Philip Lorain’s novel Day of the Arrow.
Once again absolutely stunning visuals frame the picture by cinematographer Erwin Hillier.
Erwin Hilliercombined with director J. Lee Thompson’s directing style is a tense and well-focused gaze creating a closed world of authentic dis-ease. Beautifully photographed with slight suggestions of The Wicker Man. There is an intoxicating ambiance perfectly underscored by the simplistic yet alluring music by composer Gary McFarland. Hillier’s close-ups capture fertile images of evil & arcane sensuality.
David Niven is the Marquis Philippe de Montfaucon who is the owner of a historic Vineyard. When a dry season hits the harvest he is summoned to the castle Bellenac. Deborah Kerr plays his wife-Catherine de Montfaucon who is told to remain in Paris with the children, but she follows him anyway. And for her trouble, she is assailed in the woods by very ominous figures in hoods which make for a very potent scene… which does not cease even up to the end’s shocking climactic conclusion.
The opening frames are quick cuts that utilize the sound of a speeding train, cut away frames between reveal shots of a sharp arrow, we hear the train sirens, a lavish cocktail party in high society, an old world-looking bearded man on the train, the arrow is raised- it pierces the heart of a white dove, the woods are filled with hazy black hooded figures, eerie and ominous they stand by the trees. A cross of branches is set on fire. Close up on Sharon Tate then close up on Hemmings then the screen goes black and the credits roll…..
It’s a post-modern and riveting way to open a film with an esoteric narrative …the film’s title is set against the speeding to train its windows like eyes themselves staring back at us.
When Phillippe the Marquis arrives in Bellenac the villagers all seem to revere him, lifted their hats to him, head downward, humbled and proud. He meets up with the cleric Pere Dominic (Donald Pleasence) the mood and furnishings give one the idea of an Orthodox Christian sect.
Some thought he would not return to Bellenac the butler knew he would return… Phillippe asks how about your father?
“I’ve never doubted the path you have chosen” Phillippe-“What makes you think I’ve chosen it?”
Pere Dominic-“You came back didn’t you.”
The priest places an elaborate amulet on the table. Phillippe picks up the amulet Dominic tells him “I think you have chosen it Phillippe, my son.”
Family friend Jean-Claude Ibert (Edward Mulhare) sits by the fireplace in Paris talking about Phillippe’s trip back to Bellenac. Catherine tells him the first time she was there after their wedding she says it was the most frightening place almost as though they were back in the Middle Ages. Jean-Claude tells her that Phillippe had always been obsessed with the place as if he was trying to solve its diabolical secret.
Once at the castle, Philippe seems distant as if he is following a mysterious compulsion guided by the pervading force of a cult that recognizes ancient pagan rituals, and perhaps sacrificing his own life in order to save the vineyard. Catherine can do nothing to change her somnolent husband’s mind to leave and come back with her and the children to Paris.
Both Sharon Tate as the luminous Odile de Caray and David Hemmings as the impish Christian de Caray play two beautiful yet otherworldly and sinister figures lurking about with bows and arrows. Turns toads into doves, and is fixated on the children.
Odile mesmerizes both Jacques and Antoinette. She asks if they believe in magic, then she demonstrates her powers by changing a frog on a lily pad into a dove. Could she be using the art of hypnosis to create an illusion?
Catherine does not want her brother Christian to kill any more doves on the property and isn’t happy to see her influence over her children. It begins to rain. But Odile tells her that they are not life-giving clouds and that they will pass quickly. Catherine asks why she is at Bellenac. Odile tells her that she and her brother come there often… Then Christian appears and shoots an arrow into a tree right next to Catherine. The siblings wander through the landscape like other-worldly minions.
Phillippe begins to pull away consciously from his wife and children, he tells her to take them and leave. She pleads with him to come home with her and that she can help him. In a sense, it’s all begun and even if she tries to make a fuss afterward, no one will either believe her or come forward to help her.
She says he must be mad, that he’s dying for nothing, walk away from this stupid evil.
“I’m dying for what I believe.”
“No one can help me, not even you. You don’t understand you could never understand”
He is preparing for a glorious pilgrimage of the soul. He is beyond being reached. He is prepared for the festival of ‘The Thirteen Days” or rather The Thirteen Dancers…
Alain de Montfaucon (Emlyn Williams) tells Catherine that he expects to be a living God and that Pere Dominic is more than part of it… He is all of it. He is a Pagan. And Bellenac is… A Fortress of Heresy…
IMDb fun fact:
Originally Kim Novak was cast in the role of Catherine de Montfaucon. Filming began in the fall of 1965 in France. Near every scene had been filmed when Kim Novak fell from a horse and wasn’t able to complete her scenes. Deborah Kerr was hired to take over and every scene that featured Miss Novak had to be re-shot with her replacement.
HAVE A SO-REAL SUNDAY NITE- FROM YOUR EVERLOVIN’ MONSTERGIRL!
“TEACH HER TO TAKE CARE OF ME LIKE YOU DO” — Luis talking to his mother ‘Madame Fourneau‘
Before there were shows like Criminal Minds, CSI or Dexter where I learned about dis-articulation, the graphic motif used in the human marionette themed Season 8 episode 10 of Criminal Minds ‘The Lesson’ directed by Matthew Gray Gubler (Meow!) not only for me, the most adorable, desirable nice guy, and brilliant quirky actor but outstanding director as well. Just watch Mosely Lane or the afore mentioned episode starring the equally brilliant….Brad Dourif as Adam Rain the Marionette Master who creates living puppets to re-enact a childhood trauma. I never heard of ‘Enucleation’- or removing the eyes with a highly sharpened melon baller until Criminal Minds.
This is all the stuff that gives me… yes me!!!!, MonsterGirlthe heebies, the pip, and the whim whams and perpetually horrific nightmares for days, months even. BUT!
Before there was such contemporary graphic violence pouring forth from the television screen, or feature scare films deemed ‘torture porn’... that it could almost wear your psyche down to its raw unsheathed fibers… there was a beautiful elegant, and mind-bending kind of psychological horror.
With The House That Screamed, the fear and anguish mixed with the exquisitely restrained performances by the ensemble of actors is more powerful than movies like Wolf Creek and Hostel which merely brings you excruciatingly close to realism and as violent as a trip to the slaughterhouse.
There ARE certain films that remain a haunting experience… but in a way that serves as an emotional release not a shock to your sympathetic nervous system.
One film, in particular, will always be one of my favorite classical horror films of all time. The House that Screamed (1969) directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador starring IMHO one of the finest actresses Lilli Palmer is rife with so many social taboos yet still maintains its elegance. Filled with images of Sado-Masochism -the archetypal Devouring Motherhood, the effects of repression, and young nubile beauties’ whose libidos are firing off sparks all over the boarding school. The untenable gap between adults and children, a brutal secret society of Sapphic sadists, an Oedipal complex brought to an eventual disturbing climax fit for modern screening.
Lilli Palmer’s (Body and Soul 1947, Mädchen in Uniform (1958), and The Boys from Brazil 1978) are about Madame Fourneau, the headmistress of an all-female school for ‘troubled’ or ‘unwanted girls’.
Lilli Palmer as teacher Maria Rohmer in Mädchen in Uniform, had a heady lesbian theme running through its narrative which here is reprised in a Spanish horror film that reaches back to Grand Guignol.
The rigid and stale institutionalized environment of The House that Screamedmolds ‘good girls’. This repressive sexual confinement, it bursts wide open into a sensationalist breeding ground for the lesbian as predator trope. The repressed older woman is taken in by the beautiful innocence of a wild girl who defies her rules, pushing back against Palmer’s obvious infatuation, she makes Palmer’s character suffer as a voyeur as she awakens out of the nubile young adolescent into her sexual primacy as a seductive maiden. Palmer’s pain is exquisite.
Her son Luis is played by the eternally cherubic looking if not eerily handsome John Moulder-Brown.(known for his stint in a few 70s psycho-sexual thrillers like Deep End 1970 & Forbidden Love Game 1975 directed by another underrated Spanish director Eloy de la Iglesia.
The House that Screamed is epiphanic of the thing that dreams and beautiful nightmares are made of… not these latest hellish journeys through graphic violations of the mind, body and soul, obliterating, annihilating any patch of humanity left to detect, without a purpose, a meaning nor cathartic release…
This film is an elegant horrifying waltz, textural, voyeuristic Spanish thriller, and timeless late 60s horror film… an absolute masterwork of art. From the acting, cinematography, Neo-Gothic art & set direction, the incredible use of lighting, music, and sound design (each frame exists with its own individual cue that marks the scenes with a spine-chilling ambiance, a chorus of whimperings & glossolalia) and the fabulous period wardrobe designed by Víctor María Cortezo.
The film begins with Teresa (Cristina Galbó What Have You Done To Solange? 1972) being dropped off at a remote, finishing school for said “problem” girls run by the severely domineering Madame Fourneau (Lilli Palmer), whose impish son, Luis (John Moulder-Brown) is held captive himself, by his mother’s doting maternal iron hand. (Moulder’s outre boyish expression is creepy in and of itself.) Yet it bares out the ironic theme of pure evil laying in wait behind the mask of purity. Luis is left to scour the perimeters of the school, voyeuristically gazing through small peepholes observing and befriending certain girls, like a rat who scurries behind the walls, he manages to arrange clandestine rendezvous with certain of the nymphs he chooses, while watching them during their weekly shower ritual–nightgown on–nudity is NOT an option unless you beg the wrath from the headmistress! (It throws her into a hypnotic-homophobic/homoerotic fugue).
There are several disappearances assumed to be a case of the girls being runaways as they are known for their sexual liaisons with delivery men, but there is something much more sinister lurking at ‘Le Residencia’- The Finishing School the alternate title to The House that Screamed 1969.
The narrative, the film’s oxygen is apprehensive. As tautly wound as one of Teresa’s mother’s (the prostitute) corsets. Driven by the beauty of a frightening impressionist painting, the cinematography, (Godofredo Pacheco & Manuel Berenguer ) and the applied use of color, conjuring the film’s atmosphere like a Gothic masterpiece of terror. Colors are also very emblematic of the works of Mario Bava having given his films a lush surreal dream-like quality to them, making work like Black Sabbath 1963 a memorable walk through a lush nightmare. The House That Screamed evokes a world of repression, decay, and an unseen menacing eye that is brushed with vibrant liquid-like colors.
The rigid yet pulsing tempo of the pace that is leading us to the horrifying conclusion, the haunting exquisiteness of the score by Waldo de los Ríos, its beautiful simplicity which leaves me humming for days… the visual perspective that allows us to participate in the claustrophobic, repressive quality of tristesse about the school. The eroticism is so very self-contained. It’s this type of eroticism that I find more compelling than any literal sexual exploitation and B nudie flick unless the point is ‘exploitation’ (which I’m a complete fan of )and beauty is not the operative function. The psycho-sexual elements and the horror story are not overstated, they are trembling below the surface waiting to hyperventilate from all the tension. This is one gorgeous horror film that never gets old for me.
Guillermo Del Toro who is probably the only auteur I think could attempt a re-make having used a similar eye with Pan’s Labyrinth 2006 and The Devil’s Backbone 2001 which had that sensibility that allows the horror to appear beautiful. As of late, I’ve become a fan of Eloy de la Iglesia and his style of storytelling. I’ve given these kinds of films the more powerful title of “Fable horror” The stunning and quiet sensuality brings you just to the edge but does not indulge your fight or flight response.
If you haven’t seen The House That Screamed and are curious about a film that led the 60s out with an elegant scream, and if you’re a fan of Lilli Palmer then take a stab at this one. Oops sorry for the ironic cliche there. I think you’ll be able to watch it without one hand over your face and no threat of night terrors either… If you want nightmares, just watch Criminal Minds while eating a large bowl of pasta at 10 pm then go straight to bed… I promise it’ll be far worse than anything you’ll experience from Serrador’s incredibleThe House That Screamed!
It’s been Sunday Nite Surreal… Have a light-hearted Sunday Nite from your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl
Now let me say right here and now, that I do not advocate fat-phobic themes and story lines. I avoided watching this film for that very reason.
“She’s 250 Pounds of Maniacal Fury” -tagline
But on one particular insomnia-ridden night, I felt the urge to try and embrace a 70s horror trope for the sake of being well-versed in my classic horror knowledge. I have to say that I was truly impressed by the simplistic and claustrophobic view with which I experienced Priscilla Alden’s performance. An unstable woman is released from an institution after she is deemed ready to face society again. The film is directed fluidly by Nick ‘Philips’ Millard
The opening titles have such a purely creepy simplicity to them, it makes me think of Saul Bass doing a film school project. It sets up the moodiness and isolation that is pervasive throughout the film.
And what I took away from this very elementary vision of madness was this… This gem of a horror film is NOT about fear of fat girls, or conflating obesity with mental illness. What I got from the story was that Ethel Janowski is just a mentally ill woman, whose food represented her comfort, her freedom, and her identity. And when the interfering people in her life, like her uptight Grandma Janowski (Jane Lambert) or slutty cocaine-sniffing parasite of a sister stand between Ethel and her happiness or freedom… Watch out!!!! I won’t even say that Ethel is a likable anti-hero, she’s belligerent, self-absorbed, anti-Semitic, and homicidal!
That’s about it. The idea is that people should be allowed to do what they want even if it’s perceived to be unhealthy for them. Let them eat 6 boxes of Nilla wafers and a gallon of milk. Don’t lock the kitchen cupboard or empty out the refrigerator, don’t be the delivery boy who insists that $4.50 isn’t gonna cover it, treat them like imbecile children or a nosy neighbor.
I never saw Ethel as crazy because she was overweight. It’s everyone else in the film who identifies her illness as being connected with her being ‘fat. I see her as just another off-balanced damaged soul on that old rickety Ferris Wheel of Life., who gets triggered by the people around her to go even crazier when she feels threatened or out of control.
The mood is fabulous, I think of Don’t Look in The Basement the very stark and realistic tone of the plain environment, that still holds a sense of strange & lurking weirdness. Thanks to the cinematography by Karil Ostman and the sound by Ronald Gertz that works so well to conform to the queasy atmosphere and Ethel’s derangement.
or (US dubbed release “The Apartment on the 13th Floor”-again misleading as all the murders take place in Marcos’ little historic house that keyholes the backdrop of modernity and the high-rise apartments of the nouveau riche.
Just a word of warning there is a very disturbing scene in the beginning that takes place in the slaughterhouse. Those of you as sensitive to animal cruelty or killings like myself would advise you to skip the first awful minute and get into the wonderful jazz score by Fernando G. Morcillothat leads you out of the Charnel house and into the openness of the city.
First to clarify one thing about The Cannibal Man… the film has nothing to do with cannibalism, and it is unfortunate that such a moody psychological film should be anchored with a label that would give the wrong impression of the story. I am a fan of Spanish horror films, and I am actually adding this one to my list of favorites, having navigated around the title and sitting with the film on its own terms. A film about an alienated man, who is surrounded by a landscape of modernity taking over the quaint and a pervading sense of loneliness and futility. Marcos is a tragic figure in a very bloody play.
Vincente Parrais perfect as the virile yet detached Marcos… a fascinating character. the archetypal outsider who stumbles into a whirlpool of trouble in a single moment of fate that makes him spiral into a fog of Sisyphusian madness, filled with diss-associative savagery that lifts the film out of ordinary gore into art-house butchery.
Marcos works for the local slaughterhouse. One night while on a date looking for a taxi with his girlfriend, they find a very nasty and violent cabby who kicks them out of his cab when he gets offended by the couple kissing in the back seat. Marcos argues with him and refuses to pay for the ride. The driver actually physically punches Marcos and then assaults Paula (Emma Cohen) In a fit of rage and legitimate self-defense Marcos picks up a large rock and kills Goyo Lebrero the taxista.
Marco manifests a strange neutrality around the situation. Back at Marco’s house, Paula insists on going to the police and telling them what happened. Marco begs her to understand that the police won’t believe it was an accident. “Don’t you see Paula, if I go to the police they will never listen to someone as poor as I am…”
Marcos says that her parents will be furious that she’s been seeing him and he just can’t afford to get into trouble. But… she refuses to listen to him. She breaks it off with him, telling him that she won’t be made a fool of, and marriage shouldn’t be based on lies. You can see Marco begin to uncoil at that moment. “So I can go to the police… or I can go to hell right!”
Marco kisses her as his hands crush the life from her throat, we see her struggle, a close-up of her green eyes, and Marcos with a somnambulist sense of self-preservation, a killing machine that must operate to keep himself one step away from the horrible incident with the cab driver and the insanity that has been let out of his head.
What makes the film so eerie and realistic is this nightmarish cycle, this spiraling out-of-control pace where Marco must continue to remove all obstacles that threaten his sense of autonomy as an outlier in the world. Even from the beginning, we get the sense that he is not as interested in marrying Paula as she is in marrying him.
Once his brother comes to the house, his brother’s fiancée looking for him, and her inquisitive father shows up, oh and the nice local waitress Rosa (Vicky Lagos) who has had her eyes on Marcos, he must continue to kill each one in order to protect his secret.
He begins posing the bodies in his sparse bedroom, using as much room freshener as he can, before the smell of death becomes too obvious. Yet on the outside, he acts as if nothing has happened, or that there are several rotting bodies in his bedroom. He then takes them to the slaughterhouse piece by piece in his duffel bag.
The ordinary look of Marcos’ simplistic home, the bachelor setting, his wall of tools, no frills, no style or I should say money for such privileges is perhaps necessary for the very trappings of an underclass worker in the early 1970s. There is an overt sense to the film about classist friction …
Of particular interest is the relationship that develops between Marcos and the handsome bourgeois Néstor (Eusebio Poncela)who lives on the 13th floor of the high rise behind Marcos’s humble little cottage. Néstor’s interactions with Marcos allow him to be free of the fear and frenzy he is submerged in. There is an element of homosexual attraction for both men. It’s a poignant chemistry and adds a layer of realism in the midst of the bloody fugue of Marcos’ environment and identity. At one point Marco speaks of his bad memories… Néstor suggests that he should perhaps “bury them’ already. It leaves us wondering if the tranquil authoritative and voyeuristic fellow knows what the mysterious Marcos has been doing but is a silent admirer out of love.
Néstor perhaps speaks the most telling idea of the story when he tells Marco who warns him about the dangerous wild dogs that roam the area while walking his Boxer who is in heat… “There’s no danger, a well-fed dog is always stronger than the hungry ones”
This has been your everlovin’ MonsterGirl sayin’ in any case, never run out of air freshener!
Directed by Robert Allen Schnitzerand written by Anthony Mahon, Schnitzer, and Louis Pastore? Okay… While I’ve never seen anything else by Schnitzer, this moody, surreal, haunting, and often frenetically disturbing reverie has remained with me all these years. Some people think it’s a weak film, not even a horror movie. I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, but I think it’s a genre gem!
What’s really strange about this hidden terror film is cinematographer/director Victor Milt ( Run Stinky Run, Sex Wish) has done some weird really obscure stuff after working on The Premonition and director-writer Schnitzer hasn’t done anything I can talk about here either. So how did this remarkably creepy film become what it is??? I wish I knew the answer, but there have been memorable films created by one-time feature film directors like Herk Harvey who usually did shorts or documentaries that envision the gorgeous dreamlike Carnival of Souls 1962. At least writer-actor Richard Blackburn did Eating Raoul in 1982 after his unbelievable Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural 1973. (Coming to the Last Drive In soon!)
Great character actorJeff Coreyplays the investigating Police Det. Lt. Mark Denver. There’s even a gypsy woman, played by Wilmuth Cooper.
Jeff Corey plays the investigating Police Det. Lt. Mark Denver.
I saw The Premonition when it first arrived in theaters in 1976. It frightened the bejesus out of me then, with its nightmarish segments in particular Jude’s (Richard Lynch) and Andrea’s (Ellen Barber) uncontrollable fits of rage. Their joint psychosis was a very powerful elixir as part of the carnival set piece. Their relationship alone could have made for an interesting story of madness, obsession, and self-destruction.
This film was my introduction to the interesting actor that is,Richard Lynch. The film has stayed with me. I’ve read other people’s reviews who think the script is ridiculous, muddled and the pacing is choppy. Still, it has a haunting quality to it, especially Lynch and Ellen Barber’s performances. The music by Henry Mollicone is fantastical for the vibe of the film and fascinates me, now I have to see his musical performance in the fascinating documentary The Face on the Barroom Floor 2013.
The lens has a ghostly haze over it. with a low drab subdued tonality. The music brings you in like a soft wailing of an otherworldly siren. An eerie Glossolalia, the fluid vocalizing of the tormented Andrea. Reminding me of the amazing Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance.
The institutional green bus pulls over and Andrea grips herself looking toward something. The clear pale blue sky hovering over Andrea feels chilly. She is beautiful yet strange, walking slowly toward the carnival grounds. A flutter of birds let out into the air, the vocalizing continues and Ferris Wheel comes into focus with another stomach-turning carnival ride. These daydreaming machines add color to the midway landscape. It is desolate here.
It somewhat creates a colorful version of Carnival of Souls the haunting set pieces of desolation, and otherness that play on our deepest thoughts. The impressions effervesce in fairgrounds and we construct fantasies.
Dulcimer and glistening piano bring forth Jude, a cigarette hanging out of his oddly angular face and lion-like blonde mane, he’s almost sexy ugly. The film is still lensed in cold aqua greens and pale blue. He steps out of his trailer, we see he’s wearing white ballet slippers like a mime. The piano rolls magnificently. Henry Mollicone is a virtuoso. With electronic music by Pril Smiley.
Jude steps out onto the pavement, wearing suspenders he begins a series of theatrical movements. Moving dramatically with his scarf.
Jude expresses with his body more fervently as if he hears the grand piano playing. He reaches up to the blue sky so vivid so crystalline blue. As Jude, it is a lonely dance for a sad solitary clown. As he bends downward he sees Andrea standing there. It is a portent, life is about to be turned truly upside down.
The story is a simple and unreserved one, gripping and nightmarish for all the players and us who witness a small girl being hunted psychically by her dangerously unstable biological mother who is traveling with a carnival.
Jude begins to put on his heavy white grease paint. Andrea goes to the board and touches the photo of Janie…
She turns to him… ” I thought you’d forgotten about me Jude” ” I told you I’d call you as soon as I found something didn’t I?” “Jude what if it’s not her, what if it’s like all the other times… what if we come out with nothing what then?” Then we wait and we keep on waiting until we find her”
When Andrea shows up at Janie’s school, the music becomes a flutter of wings with flute as the children run free from their inside captivity. Andrea fingers the metal holes in the fence moving slowly, waiting for her little girl to appear. Finally, Janie is standing before her she calls to her, then Janie runs to her adoptive mother Sherrie who is waiting in the car.
Back in Jude’s trailer-Jude says, “We were lucky it couldn’t of taken years to find her” “It did take years… five stinkin’ years in that rotten pit” Jude answers, “Oh it wasn’t all that bad, I mean we wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
Jude tells Andrea that he has found a house. A small house in the woods, a nice place to settle down with the kid.
Andrea glows and a weird smile emerges at first “Settling down!”Then clenching her teeth as she drags the comb through wet raven tresses. “What are you talking about settling down for… what are you talking about. Sometimes I just don’t understand you Jude. Settling down for what…?this comes first! “
But Jude explains that they can hide out in that house til things blow over. She walks away towel drying her hair.
He remains on the topic “Nobody’s lived there for years. they’ll never find us”
Jude lays on the bed smoking a cigarette while Andrea in a red bathrobe, plays a beautiful piece of music on the piano.
The scene switches to Miles talking to Dr Kingsly his associate about parapsychology as she instructs a small class.
At the same time, the film is juxtaposing images of Andrea having a primordial psychic meltdown. Not even a maternal scream, just a core anaphylactic roar from deep within.
Sherrie begins to see visions of a volatile confrontation between Jude and Andrea. On the spectral plane, it comes across in distorted yowls and negative film images. It’s quite a frightening effect. I remember being terrified by these scenes in the darkness of the theater. Like little shock treatments to a burgeoning MonsterGirl mind…
For people who think there isn’t enough explanation to the narrative Sherrie’s friend hints at the idea when spending the night telling Sherrie that she had heard of two minors who had been trapped for several days, they began sharing the same hallucinations. In this way, her question about Sherry’s disturbing visions somehow being linked to Janie’s bad dreams is true.
A psychic storm is brewing from the rage and unrequited desires of both Jude and Andrea. Janie and Sherrie naturally begin to form a single wavelength that tunes into this frequency. At least this is the premise of the film. The one link is Janie the child… and who will be the conquering mother?
While Miles is not working late with the attractive Professor Kingsly, he’s eating cotton candy and riding the merry-go-round with her.. hhm… at the carnival-definitely research related… as she suddenly looks down at Mile’s wedding band her happy expression fades away.
Meanwhile, Andrea and Jude pull up in that fabulous green pickup. The crickets and chorus frogs are singing their night song. Jude shuts the motor off. In her red dress, nails, and oz slippers like the Witch of the West Andrea creeps or slithers into the house to take Janie.
The use of electronic sounds is excellent.
Andrea’s casting darkness, shadowing the wall is reminiscent of Nosferatu. Andrea is almost as icy as a dead thing herself… wanting to lure the child back, it looks and feels vampiric. Yet this is Janie’s biological mother, which creates some ambivalence for me as she deserves to have at least guided contact with her daughter, otherwise, why let her out of the mental hospital?
It creates the effect of psychic static the use of sound used whenever the camera focuses on Andrea’s movements.
And the framing of Andrea looking back into the den while Sherri sleeps utilizes the striped walls as they also become as distorted as a fun house room. Very disorienting.
The last remnant of shadow left from Andrea creeping up the steps is eerie as Sherri sleeps as if under a spell. Once again… a notion of Nosferatu. Andrea even has a dark complexion that could even be considered Eastern European gypsy, like Bela Lugosi.
The use of electronic static, noise represents Andrea’s state of mind at the moment. The use of low lighting and color is well-placed and creates a surreal atmosphere of worlds colliding.
The electronic noises that represent Andrea’s madness and presence are like a metallic insect. As if she hisses and slithers into Janie’s room. Everything is backlit. Andrea’s color is hot reds, and Janie’s is a cool blue.
Sherrie wakes up to the sound of the rocking chair in Janie’s room.
Nobody can tell me that this film isn’t an eerie, haunting little story, that stays with you… If it doesn’t deliver on the kinds of gruesome gory chills you’d expect from a 70s horror story then you’re watching the wrong film. But this film is highly underrated and often shot down by critics who feel it falls short. Oh well… The rest of us who know its strength will continue to advocate for it…Back to the film….-MonsterGirl ♥
Andrea runs down the stairs taking one of Janie’s dolls after fighting with Sherrie who is clinging to Janie on the bed. Andrea screams up to Sherrie… “She is Mine… she will always be mine-!!!!!!” Her voice isstrained, powerful, almost magnetic.
Back at Jude’s little house in the woods, Andrea is holding Janie’s doll as if it were her.
“You are such a pretty baby,”Andrea says to the doll. Jude staring out the bleak window of the little house looks on with a worried stare. He rips the head off the doll as it squeaks Andrea screams and cries. Jude has become more unhinged himself. It has been brewing in him since the beginning. But it is not working out the way he had envisioned. He can’t control Andrea, and she obviously doesn’t care for him the same way. Two mentally ill people fighting over their own neurosis.
Andrea destroys Jude’s manhood as if she took a knife and thrust it in.
Jude loses it… we hear screams.
At the same time…Sherrie gets cold in the bathroom, and the mirror freezes over. She cannot see herself. It’s a supernatural event that begins to connect the events surrounding the players involved.
Jeff Corey the investigating cop shows up at Janie’s biological father’s house to ask some questions about Andrea.
I’ve noticed the narrative uses a lot of frames where people are either looking out windows or doors or standing in the doorframe looking in. It’s that tout to parapsychologies’ introspective plane of existence…the within powers that surround all of us on a personal level. The character look inward, we’re watching them look inward and we wind up looking inward with them…
Danielle Briseboismakes her debut playing Janie Bennett the wee one who is being visited by her psychic/psychotic mother through horrifying visions like a vampiric wraith filtering through the ether reaching outward to contact her little girl who was given away to foster parents while she was in the mental ward. But Janie is terrified and wants to remain with her foster parents Prof. Miles and Sherri Bennett played bySharon Farrell(Larry Cohen’sIt’s Alive 1974) and Edward Bell. Farrell is always good at playing adorable cheap, neurotic, and a little over the edge. Brisebois was still really cute at this stage before she became Archie Bunker’s annoying niece until she grew up into a sexy rock singer.
I have to admit that seeing this film in the theater when I was an impressionable teenager really freaked me out a bit. The images were quite startling, and in retrospect, anything Carnival-related is wonderfully creepy and wonderfully eerie, as it attains its own self-contained world. The vision of the crazy Andrea Fletcher is quite stunning as well, so as far as the pacing being muddled or uninteresting, I suppose those people who hated this film were looking for more 70s bloody, axes, psycho-sexual mind games, animals attacking or devil children. This story is a bit of a childlike nightmare amidst, Folie à deux insanity, loss, possession, motherhood, and longing. The narrative slips between a mordant sense of all these themes, as it expands beyond the literal world and works on our unconscious participation in moral ideals of motherhood, rights, and the boundaries that separate us all by a psychic thread.
Andrea (Ellen Barberwho plays Mickey Roarke’s secretary in Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) comes to Janie’s school to try and grab her, but Janie’s new mommy Sherri has a premonition and manages to arrive just in time to save Janie. Andrea lives with her wildly menacing boyfriend, a clown named Jude. Yikes, as if Lynch wasn’t frightening on a good day, wearing white face paint and painted on tears… it still gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Andrea is obsessed with getting Janie back, and Jude will do anything for his nutty girlfriend. The pair manage to kidnap Janie leaving the Bennetts in a panic who then seek out the help of a parapsychologist Dr. Jeena Kingsly (Chitra Neogy) a colleague of Miles. They hope that she can decipher Sherrie’s terrifying visions, as she also has a psychic link to Janie she must try and track her down before the unstable Andrea loses it completely and harms her daughter.
The story makes it hard for us to sympathize with Andrea as a protagonist longing to be reunited with her daughter because she herself is such a threatening figure. She’s been recently released from an institution and is still emotionally volatile. She met Jude while she was hospitalized. Jude keeps a watchful eye out for Janie, working for the carnival he’s in the position to see a lot of children pass through. One day he spots Andrea’s daughter with Sherri.
He tells Andrea that he’s seen Janie which is the catalyst for a wave of psychic visions that beset Sherri. Dr. Kingsly tries to guide Sherri to use her powers of ESP to find Janie and connect with her to track her down and bring her back.
Filmed in Mississippi the look has a haunting rustic and starkly Gothic feel to it. There’s an untouchable sense of a dreamy, trance-like aura that surrounds the frames. It disconnects us from all things being easily explained, but dreams are like that and the atmosphere of the eerie and urgent narrative compensates for the lack of cohesive and sensible plot design.
In the 70s not all things were explained coherently. Sometimes the figures floated upon landscapes that were nightmarish and made no sense. As in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death 1971, and yet it was this ambiguity that created the mystique, the mystery, and the mood.
What makes a story a thing that is haunting are visions not clearly defined, nor affirmations said aloud. The outstanding theme that jolts you into a sense of agony is the pull between two mothers, one who is emotionally destructive yearning for her child, and the other, desperately trying to protect the child she believes is hers now.
Caught in between is Janie who can only feel the thrust of possession surrounding her, the vivid nightmares and fears of innocence and unknown. Also tangled in the web of possession is Jude who is merely being used as a means to procure Janie for Andrea. His frustration turns outward like the rage of a tornado. Lynch’s face reveals his turbulence well. Andrea taunts him until he is so wounded that he keeps the child even when he doesn’t have to. If I say more I will give away part of the story…
There are some truly shocking moments-The painting crying blood when Dr. Kingsly tells Sherri just to let it flow when trying to teach her to hone in on her psychic insights. -Andrea wearing a ruby red evening gown soaked in blood appears in Janie’s bedroom with a rocking chair (turtle lovers look away) it is extremely eerie and somber. Her hands seem like talons, once again The Monstrous Feminine arrives on cue.
There are a few visions or apparitions of Andrea drenched in blood and the recurring forming of ice on those iconographic mirrors. Mirrors, the pathway to see ourselves is clouded by ice in order to obscure Sherri’s view into the psychic world.
The climax is a mesmerizing sequence, one that will either have you laughing and dismissing this film completely as others have done, or it will stay with you as it has with me, a beautiful little nightmare.
This is your EverLovin’ Joey sayin’ I have a premonition you’ll be back to The Last Drive In!
Please forgive the quality of some of my screen capturs. Alas… I do not have a good copy of the film.
If a movie lingers… if it stays with you for hours… days, then it has done something right. I think this film is perhaps as uniquely disturbing as it is underrated & thoughtfully done. Though there are details and subject matter that most will consider too perverse, it’s still a potent yet slightly murky thriller. Perhaps provocative in a way that might turn many away as being a revolting little psychodrama. One with an eerie, queasy mood amidst the ornate set design and restrained performances.
The 70s were so good for giving us these kinds of surreal, sinisterly captivating, and unsettling themes. The House That Screamed, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Silent Night, Bloody Night, Lemora, Blood and Lace, What’s The Matter With Helen, so many, too many to mention. Films rife with taboos, power struggles, narratives questioning psychosis, ritual murders, and deviance.
Directed by William Fraker (cinematographer on Rosemary’s Baby ’68, Bullitt ’68 uncredited on Incubus ’66 for Roger Corman, The Day of The Dolphin ’73, Looking for Mr Goodbar ’77)
A Reflection of Fear was hacked to pieces in order to receive a PG rating for Columbia Pictures. Fraker made his feature debut as cinematographer on one of my favorite psychological thrillers – Curtis Harrington’s cat and mouse thriller GAMES 1967 with Simone Signoret. He was the camera operator for my beloved fantasy 60s series The Outer Limits TV series 1963-1965. No wonder why this film’s atmosphere is a hazy dreamy landscape that transcends the outward appearance of reality.
László Kovács (Easy Rider ’69, That Cold Day in the Park ’69) enhances the look and feel of the film as Director of Photography. AReflection of Fear is based on a novel by Stanton Forbes called Go To Thy Deathbed with a screenplay by Lewis John Carlino (Seconds 1966, The Mechanic 1972, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea 1976).
Blogger David Furtado from his fabulous Wand’rin’ Star cites in a post From Sondra Locke’s autobiography The Good, The Bad and The Very Ugly- A Hollywood Journey –
“Then came a film which was a landmark, professionally and personally: A Reflection of Fear, directed by promising filmmaker William A. Fraker, who had been nominated for several Oscars as a director of photography, and who had directed Monte Walsh with Lee Marvin and Jeanne Moreau, one of the last great and underestimated westerns. Sondra Locke plays the mysterious and unbalanced ‘Marguerite’, a girl of sixteen.
As ‘Marguerite’ in A Reflection of Fear (released in 1973).
Once again, Gordon and her plotted a scheme to get Fraker interested, since they both thought the role was almost perfect for her. Gordon Anderson even played the “voice” of ‘Aaron’, Marguerite’s alter-ego. Unfortunately, the film was butchered by Columbia since it dealt with themes deemed too strong for the general public. Locke found the attitude ridiculous, even more so because, at that time, “audiences were enthralled with the young girl in The Exorcist, spewing vomit and masturbating with crucifixes”. Nonetheless, she became longtime friends with the director and his future wife Denise, who was very supportive when Locke had serious health problems.”
This is the underrated cult film starSandra Locke’sfirst film… She was perfectly unorthodox as the odd Agatha Jackson alongside Colleen Camp in DEATH GAME 1977 where they hold actor Seymour Cassel hostage as they play mind games with him. As Marguerite, she is perfectly chilling in her debut.
Sandra Locke is the captivating young sylph, Marguerite,Robert Shawportrays her estranged father Michael. Mary Ure (Shaw’s real-life wife at the time) is her mother Katherine. Swedish actress Signe Hasso lurks as Marguerite’s sinister grandmother Julia, a harpy-like matron who seems to be the locus of the askew matriarchy that treats Marguerite like a sickly princess caught in a closed universe. It plays like a dark fairy tale where initially she appears to be at the mercy of wicked women.
Mary Ure is absolutely gorgeous, seductive yet refined, Signe Hasso is a marvelous actress whom I’ve admired for a while now, she’s elegant and quite regal though imposing as the character called for. Both Ure & Hasso exude an unsavory perfume.
Quirky and affable Sally Kellerman plays Michael’s fiancé, Anne, who worked with Fraker on The Bellero Shieldwith Martin Landau airing on Feb. 10th, 1964. One of my favorite Outer Limits episodes with the Bifrost alien. Fraker also worked on the set with Signe Hasso on Outer Limits’ Production and Decay of Strange Particlesyet another superb entry in the short-lived yet transcendently brilliant series.
Gordon Anderson (also the voice of Ratboy 1986) is the voice of the imperceptible Aaron, doll or boy I won’t tell…
Fred Myrow (Soylent Green 1973, Scarecrow 1973, Phantasm 1979 is responsible for the haunting musical score that is dizzying with lilting harps and mandolin, low muted French horn, music box shimmer, and eerie wavelengths of noise. Joel Schiller is the art director (Rosemary’s Baby, The Muppet Movie) and Phil Abramson (Bullitt ’68, Close Encounters of the Third Kind ’77 and Raging Bull ’80) does the creepy and suffocating set design which is perfect for the sense of repression, dread, and decay.
A Reflection of Fear has been referred to as a proto-slasher. There is the use of a caped hooded ‘masher’ Perhaps this film set off a slew of slashers to come, but several reviews have cited a correlation between this film and Hitchcock’s Psycho ’60. Quite frankly I do not see this at all.
If I were to disclose anything because I love a good hint- I could say the closest the film’s storyline comes to is actually an episode of Journey to the Unknown “Miss Belle” 1968 with George Maharis and Barbara Jefford, but that’s all I’m sayin’… if you know the one I mean, I’ve just given you a golden crumb to nibble on.
And if I were to argue this point or to relate any similarities to another film or early 70s tv series, I might give the ending away. Perhaps it’s the bright child with a mother complex instead of taxidermy she likes Horticulture. Anyhoo, as an obscure 70s psycho-sexual thriller, it has its very own universe to spin around in so making connections for me is well… inconsequential…
The multi-layered narrative surrounds a disturbed and alienated sixteen-year-old girl named Marguerite (Sondra Locke), who exists in a private world of dolls that she talks to and who in voice-over talks back in the quietude and opulent isolation with her affluent mother (Mary Ure) and grandmother (Signe Hasso) at an exclusive Inn somewhere in Canada. Marguerite is not only held captive by her mother and grandmother but to my impression is seemingly a willing recluse who yearns for the love of the father she’s only known by the various books he sends her on art, flowers, etc.
Grandma Julia-“I hardly think he’s coming again for you my dear she’s his daughter after all”Mother Katherine-“We’ve been so careful Mother” Julia-“A glimpse would perhaps satisfy him for another fifteen years” Katharine-“A glimpse would hardly satisfy Michael of Marguerite” Julia- “Would you stir his curiosity? And… Marguerite seeing Michael might tempt her to certain idolatry of the man.”
Something is not right within the family dynamic but when Marguerite’s father Michael finally arrives this particular languid summer to ask his wife for a divorce so he can marry Anne (Sally Kellerman) The vitriol comes out as Grandmare (Signe Hasso) turns the knife in as Michael exclaims, and Mary Ure refuses to set him free unless he agrees to never see Marguerite ever again.
Once Michael sees his wisp of a daughter he’s never known in the flesh a peculiar gaze is set forth. He finds her enchanting. He actually says so several times. Yet he is concerned about the way his wife and mother-in-law are holding the child prisoner. As he considers rescuing the child, the dynamic starts to invade Anne’s future life with Michael, and the brutal murders begin to ensue.
One of the central mysteries is whether Marguerite is being driven mad by her mother and grandmother, is delusional, or if there truly is an Aaron – either way the concept is provocative as it is malefic. Always lensed in darkness it adds to the creepiness of the matter at hand. “You keep me cooped up in here like one of the dead dolls in your trunk“-whispers Aaron
The local police come to investigate. Mitchell Ryan plays the cop who suspects the father, Michael of the murders. The lovers Michael and Anne are to remain close to the crime scene, so they move into the estate as sort of an unspoken house arrest.
Sondra Locke manages to catch my gaze with curiosity at her queer sort of whimsical prettiness, more odd than sensual. here as childlike, gaunt, and pale as schoolhouse chalk which works for the character of Marguerite. She carries on creepy Socratic dialogues with her decrepit dolls.
Marguerite’s presence is both disturbing and sympathetic as she plays at being a fay prisoner, kept isolated by her grandmare and mother while exhibiting extraordinary intelligence and primal burgeoning sexuality.
Marguerite lives in a fantasy world, she’s brilliant, owns microscopes, a pond filled with amoebas, has full knowledge of horticulture, stamen and pistils and all that, has rooms filled with a myriad of creepy dolls in tatters and decay, a specie of cannibal fish which she finds quite natural in the natural order of things.
Something that girlfriend Ann (Sally Kellerman ) will invoke when trying to describe how Marguerite is trying to ‘devour’ her father. Consume him, which he allows, as part of the odd liturgy of perverse underpinnings of the narrative. Incest, sexual repression, sexual mutilation, castration anxiety, oedipal lust, castrating females-Misandry (women hating men) “don’t ever let a man touch you, it’ll mean death.” Her mother tells Marguerite in a voice-over flashback.
Her main confidant is a doll… or is he… named Aaron a very belligerent spirit either way, who is quite possessive of Marguerite and seems to be destructive, antagonistic, and malevolent. Neither the mother nor grandmother believe he is anything more than a doll. Or perhaps they know more than they are willing to disclose to father Michael when he comes to visit after 15 years. He wants to marry the lovely Anne, but Marguerite’s mother refuses to give him a divorce as a way of punishing him. Using it as a weapon to keep him from seeing his daughter again.
During his visit, the odd relationship is shown, depicting father and daughter in sexualized frameworks. It’s painful to watch as Michael doesn’t discourage Marguerite’s advances, not even in front of Anne.
‘Aaron’ begins to become more violent as the father and his lover Anne intrude on the opulent, isolated nether world these women seem to inhabit. Fraker who was the director of photography on D.H Lawrence’s story The Fox1967 directed by Mark Rydell is really good at capturing the visual sense of place surrounding alienation and the immortal triangle. A world that is quiet, when all at once an intruder turns everything into chaos.
The film is rather brutal and grotesque even within the kaleidoscopic colors and hazy shadows that both Frakerand Kovács manifest to murk and lurk and obscure what we see. This heightens the horror of the thing rather than impinges on it. The incandescent lighting and subduing of colors of the photography by László Kovács using filters and gels create a hazy shadowy landscape that’s as enigmatic as the story. By now you know that my second nickname should be Shadowgirl…
The murders are savage, phallus-driven mutilations and speak of sexual repression and hatred toward women.
Marguerite is referred to as ‘enchanting’ more than once. Her skin is translucent and her Alice in Wonderland exterior purposefully dress her up to look as if she’s falling through the rabbit hole at any minute might be a way to draw attention to the underlying turmoil of growing sexual awakening. Once her mother and grandmother are out of the way, she begins to wear more adult clothing. She also injects bottles of what is supposed to be insulin, but the labels have been removed from the bottles. Curiouser and curiouser.
At one point she asks her father to give her the injection so that it won’t hurt as much. In retrospect, I think this is a pretty clear allusion to Marguerite’s desire to have her father penetrate her.
Sandra Locke’s performance is quite chilling, with her childlike, almost socio-pathic lack of affect, it comes across as an eerie sexualized pubescent blond droid, rather than a child who has been secreted away by the older women in her life, in a clandestine garden paradise with malefic forces afoot.
Her voice is part of the characterization of a frail, wispy spirit with no earthly substance, dressed in little girl finery spouting factoids about sea life and flowers but bearing no resemblance to a real child of this world. Initially, her dolls have more breadth to them. But Marguerite begins to awaken by the presence of her father.
Marguerite’s mother and grandmother are cold and uncommunicative. There’s no sign of nurturing although her mother calls her ‘chéri‘.
The two women obviously hate men and have done a good job of keeping little Marguerite from coming in contact with anyone of the male species. Even the male fish get eaten by the stronger female of the species.
Sally Kellerman is the one character that buoys us to the normal ‘outside’ practical world. As she sees all the subversive deeds and perversions that are rampant around the old estate but still refuses to walk away from the man she loves. She is the one stable witness to the madness as it unfolds.
William Fraker and screenwriters Edward Hume and Lewis John Carlino (who also wrote the screenplay for The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea in ’76 interesting enough this too dealt with disturbed children with higher intelligence), allow the repulsive sexualized relationship between father and daughter to flourish til we’re completely uncomfortable as Anne.
I must warn anyone who might be interested in seeing this film that there is a very edgy scene where Marguerite, whose room is next to her father and Anne, masturbates while the couple is making love. Marguerite calls out ‘father’while she climaxes so that the couple can hear her cries. Anne finds this entire experience vile, though by now she shouldn’t be surprised by the odd child’s behavior and finally almost leaves Michael yet still remains in this sick environment.
The film is apparently heavily cut due to censorship in order to secure a ‘PG’ rating for its original U.S. theatrical release in the early 70s. I’d love to see the unedited version someday.
The shocking twist ending was a bit muddled in terms of visual revelation, but finding out that the film was badly modified due to censorship might explain some of the jagged continuity. I don’t mind the obfuscation of various key scenes as they add to the sense of mystery and concealment. But the reveal at the end did not come to full fruition as it could have.
Sadly, Mary Ure died suddenly in her sleep in 1975 after an accidental overdose of pills and booze. The imposing and ever larger-than-life actor Robert Shaw suffered a massive heart attack in 1978 and so joined her in death.
This film is not for everyone, especially those that find psycho-sexual thrillers objectionable because their pathology is usually based on some kind of subversive wiring in the brain or dysfunctional or arrested development of the family structure. But if you’re like me, who just can’t devour enough obscure 70s dark and delectable lunacy then try and catch this one night… bring your favorite doll.
This has been a reflection of -Your ever lovin’ MonsterGirl