Les Demoniaques (1973) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) (and Tuna)
|This is Jean Rollin's Pirate
Two young innocents wash up as shipwreck survivors, and they are raped and killed by some particularly inept pirates while the captain's girlfriend watches and masturbates. So you can see right away it's gonna be a classy movie.
|Of course, dying in a Jean Rollin plot
doesn't really have the impact it might in real life. The
innocents simply make a deal with the devil in order to
come back and get revenge on their rapists.
Turns out you don't deal immediately with the devil. He has an advance scout, a woman who wears clown make-up. Well she cuts a deal, and all the devil wants in return for restoring their flesh is to have some hot monkey love with the little muffins in their rebuilt bodies, before sending them back into the world. His Supreme Unholiness, the Prince of Darkness, looks like Antonio Banderas in tights, which is consistent with what I always imagined, especially since seeing The 13th Warrior.
|It could actually be a pretty good
horror/gore movie except for a few things.
Tuna likes Rollin's films rather more than I do. Rollin's films are filled with great plusses and minuses, and I often feel too overwhelmed by the minuses to enjoy the overall experience. Tuna has a different sense of balance between the elements, especially loves some of Rollin's visuals, and noted the following plusses in this film:
The career of Jean Rollin is one of the most interesting in the history of cinema.
A truly odd man with a preference for counter-cultural presentation, he combined his own obsessions into a sometimes effective, sometimes dreadful, but always unique style of filmmaking. He, in fact, invented an entire genre, and the French call it the Rollinade - a cheap, Gothic horror romance, usually with lesbians and gore, expressionistic acting styles, and artistic aspirations in the visuals and dialogue.
In a way, you can think of him as kind of the French Ed Wood.
But there is a key difference between Rollin and Wood. Whereas Wood grew up in a grade-b culture, as far from the intellectual underground as he was from the mainstream, Rollin was well grounded in the history of literature, art, politics, and the cinema. When he was given a few francs and artistic freedom (the abominable Zombie Lake wasn't his project - he was a hired hand, and never saw the script until he was on his way to the set!), he could turn out some brilliant, if strange, stuff. He combined his Gothic romanticism, for example, with 60's new-wave surrealism. A strange combination, to be sure.
And he had some talent.
Take his reindeer-thing. Now the idea may be incredibly dumb, but the execution is excellent, given a budget of zero. The image of the reindeer horns casting a shadow into the unpaved cobblestone street creates a poetic sense of loneliness and has an eerie presence worthy of an empty Russian street in a Tarkovsky film. In fact, Rollin actually does manage to make a reindeer-man seem sort of scary, even if his shirt-sleeves are too short.
When the French Film Board reviews a movie, they are simply supposed to assign an age classification. In the case of "The Demoniacs", they not only did that, but also gratuitously tacked on "and of a complete stupidity" to the rating. Rollin was incensed, because the board consisted not just of bureaucrats, but also filmmakers, many of whom were his friends and acquaintances. He started a letter campaign to the trade papers to defend his artistic freedom against the oppressions of the moral majority. Of course, he was an eccentric, so any attempt to defend himself simply exposed more and more of his eccentricity, and drove him deeper and deeper into a ghetto of underground sex and gore filmmakers.
His only way to break out of his stereotype was to try to make a more artistic movie without vampires and sex, so he filmed "The Crystal Rose" and arranged for a premiere to showcase his new aesthetic. As you might expect, it was a disaster. When the lights came up, Rollin and his film were roundly booed, and the audience began to pelt him with handy objects. "Cinematographie" noted that it was the worst reaction ever given to a director, in their experience, and it was all the worse because the audience consisted solely of his fans and friends! Rollin never had a mainstream following, and with this flick he had lost his only audience - the crowd that liked his artistic and sexual horror interpretations. The audience laughed out loud throughout the premiere, although the film supposed to be anything but comedic. That pretty much destroyed his career for about a decade, during which he made porn films under various pseudonyms, and hired out for other people's projects, like the aforementioned Zombie Lake.
back, though, in the eighties, and as a novelist as well,
with the same crazed obsessions. (I don't think any of
his books are available in English).
He's still around now, working on various projects. As an example, he put together additional footage and a final cut for Emmanuelle 6, and turned a disaster into a respectable film.
Although he entered the business way back in the fifties, he was a boy at the time, and he's only 61 now, so he may have a few more surprises left in him.
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