Thursday, October 22, 2009


A gloomy Gothic-toned tale of love, sex, and death. It's inspired by a poem by Tristan Corbiere, and some critics note that this movie is best approached as a visual poem; certainly like many poems, short stories, or TV series episodes, it's all about atmosphere over narrative, and it is effective here and there, but at feature-film length, it feels quite padded out. At a wedding party, a guest in black (Hugues Quester, acting here under the name Pierre Dupont) recites a short poem (by Corbiere) about death and flirts with a girl in red (Francoise Pascal) who may be a bit death-obsessed. They spend the next day together romping through a 70's Clairol commercial (except with fog and gloom instead of sunshine and tall grass) and take a picnic into a fenced-in graveyard. Down in a crypt, they get naked and do the deed while weird figures, like a clown, are traipsing about between the graves. After night falls, they try to find their way out but when they discover they are locked in, they get a little hysterical and start bickering. She lies down on a grave, acting like she's communing with the dead, and the pair wind up in a old burial pit, making out against a pile of bones. It's all downhill from here for the pair and for the audience. I do appreciate the attempt at producing a single concentrated effect, as Poe believed should be the goal of the short story, but the length here is a problem. Neither lead is particularly effective and the lack of background music hurts. There is a causal reference to it being November 1st, so maybe this is a Halloween/All Soul's Day story. Directed by French cult filmmaker Jean Rollin who is known for both horror and porn; this film has one completely gratuitous nude scene late in the proceedings, but frankly it's too little, too late. Aka LA ROSE DE FER and THE CRYSTAL ROSE. [DVD]

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