Thursday, May 19, 2022


Jane and Cathy are two young British women on a vacation, bicycling through the picturesque French countryside. At a sidewalk café, they notice a scruffily handsome man who is noticing them. When they leave, he follows them on his motor scooter. In a small village, they notice him again and seem caught between interest and fear. After a rest stop in some woods, a drowsy Cathy wants to stay and nap in the sun, while the more practical Jane wants to get going. In a bit of a huff, Jane bikes on to another small village where a local tells her that the road has a dangerous reputation as a girl had been raped and killed there some time ago. When Cathy doesn't show up, Jane rides back and finds only her camera in the clearing. The mysterious scooter rider, Paul, also shows up and offers to help look for Cathy, but Jane isn't sure she should trust him, even after he claims to be a detective who had, in fact, worked on the past murder along the road. Various villagers are introduced (a restaurant owner, a cop and his deaf father, a British teacher), all seeming a little off-kilter. Just because Paul seems the most suspicious, it seems like he can't be a rapist and killer—or can he?

Advertised as a horror movie, this is more a slow burn thriller though it partakes of the "big city vs. rural village" genre of films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But there is very little here to draw horror fans. Even though it's only 100 minutes, it feels too long, as once it's established that Cathy is gone, the action, such as it is, is repetitious and mostly involves building up red herring situations. The ending is satisfying but it should have arrived in under 90 minutes. Michele Dotrice, sister of Karen who played Jane Banks in MARY POPPINS, is fine as the somewhat sensuous Cathy—there is in her character at least a smidge of the old stereotype of the sexy girl who is asking for trouble. Pamela Franklin (LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE) is very good as Jane. Sandor Elès (COUNTESS DRACULA), pictured, is good at maintaining ambiguity about his character and his motivations right to the end. The bright sunlit locations make an interesting background to the tense proceedings. Certainly watchable if not especially memorable. [Streaming]


dfordoom said...

I remember liking this movie quite a bit but it was a long time ago so I couldn't tell you why I liked it so much!

Telecaster said...

Robert Fuest is an unsung hero of genre film.

I really enjoy this film, though, maybe it could be a little shorter. I think, for 1970, this was a very clever movie. Almost a proto slasher, although it never goes into full horror territory. I like what it doesn’t do as much as what it does do. It stays away from the heavily Hitchcock influenced giallo thrillers that Europe was cranking out by the dozen in the 60’s and 70’s. While it is “stylish” it’s not style over substance here. No huge plot holes. And it doesn’t rely on the exploitation trappings many other European thrillers relied on to sell them film. It’s pretty dark but not over the top and I tend to appreciate that as I get older. It is very low key. But I still prefer The Abominable Dr Phibes!