Three strangers arrive at a chateau inhabited by four women believed to be vampires. But are they vampires or are they under the hypnotic machinations of an old man? Rollin shot the first part of this film as a short subject to be billed with an American vampire film bought by a distributor that just over an hour (it too was designed for double billing). His producers were impressed with what he accomplished with next to nothing and asked him to expand the film to feature length. Thus, the first half hour (part one) is an intriguing short that makes the most of its found locations, make-shift production design, and available lighting (and a very early example of a turntable effect around two arguing actors to heighten the intensity of the scene). The second half (which necessitates resurrecting several of the characters that were killed at the end of the first and introduces the Queen of the Vampires played by Jacqueline Seiger (who was an instructor at Felix Guattari’s anti-psychology clinic at the time). Lacking the structure of the first part, the near-plotless remaining hour allows Rollin to cram in an entire serial’s worth of car chases, mad doctors, vampires, fist fights, and gun fire as well as several more arresting – and iconic in the Rollin oeuvre – images to bring the short to feature length. Part 2 features also Olivier Martin (the protagonist of Rollin’s LE VAMPIRE NUE – forthcoming from Redemption USA) and, despite his large role in the part, an uncredited Jean-Loup Philippe (co-writer and star of Rollin’s LEVRES DE SANG). Continue reading
“Ben and Pardner shared everything…even their wife!”
Marvin and Eastwood star as California prospectors during the Gold Rush of 1849-50. Eastwood is the calm, restrained one; Marvin is noisy and rambunctious. Marvin buys a wife, Seberg, from a local Mormon. Then, to make sure the lonely local miners will leave his new bride alone, he hijacks a wagonload of prostitutes and takes them to the prospectors in the mining town he has founded, No Name City, setting them up for business at a saloon. While Marvin is away, Eastwood and Seberg fall for each other; but when Marvin returns and discovers the affair, Seberg declares that she’d like them both as husbands.
A judge is about to sentence members of a motorcycle gang for murder when he gets blackmailed because of an affair with a teenage babysitter.
An assistant DA (George Carey) is prosecuting a biker for a vicious murder. The lawyer’s home-life meanwhile is a wreck: He has a nagging, frigid wife and a newborn son, and his adult daughter is a lesbian. Things go from bad to worse, however, when he is unable to resist the charms of his seductive underage babysitter (Patricia Wymer). Meanwhile, the girlfriend of the biker befriends the prosecutor’s daughter, hoping to get some photos of her with her lover so she can use them to blackmail the father. She really hits the jackpot though when she stumbles upon the man himself en flagrante with his babysitter mistress. . . Continue reading
A landmark in fantasy cinema, this lyrical ghost story is set in medieval Japan amid a bloody conflict between rival fiefdoms. While the warrior Kichi’s impoverished wife (Jitsuko Yoshimura) and mother (Nobuko Otowa) wait for his return from battle, they maintain a humble existence by luring lost soldiers into the surrounding fields of tall grass and murdering them in order to sell their armor and weapons for food; the bodies are then disposed of in a deep cavern. After learning that her son has been killed in battle, Otowa begins to concoct a scheme to frighten her daughter-in-law into staying at home with her indefinitely. After killing a soldier clad in a hideous demon mask — which hides his grotesque, scarred face — the mother dons the mask and succeeds in frightening Yoshimura away from her new lover’s house. To her own horror, the mother quickly discovers that the mask is now securely stuck to her face, and her attempts to remove it culminate in the greatest horror of all. Fraught with sexual tension, nefarious schemes, and Freudian symbolism, this compelling masterpiece, by turns hypnotically beautiful and shockingly brutal, represents the finest in horror filmmaking, driven by powerful imagery and aided by sumptuous black-and-white photography.
(Cavett Binion on All Movie Guide)
Banned until very recently, Arteche’s clandestine documentary chronicles a group of students’ movements in Mexico in 1968.
On July 22, 1968, two rival groups of male adolescent students fought each other in the Ciudadela neighbourhood of Mexico City; the next day the city government responded by sending policemen to stop the accompanying vandalism and to arrest the perpetrators. These riot police (granaderos) attacked the students so ferociously that protests were lodged. No one could have foreseen that both of these testosterone-driven events were the opening scene of the drama of the 1968 University-State conflict which climaxed in the Tlatelolco massacre.
Natalie Wood was never more beautiful, and the battle of the sexes was never more fun. It’s great to see a love story that doesn’t resort to foul language or adult humor, but simply witty dialog and the vagaries of human nature.
Tony Curtis plays a tabloid reporter trying to get the goods on Helen Gurley Brown (Natalie) and her personal life to find out if she actually knows anything about sex and relationships. To this end, he impersonates an acquaintance (Henry Fonda) who is having problems with his jealous wife (Lauren Bacall) so that he can pose as a patient and seek her advice.
The confusion caused by this impersonation just leads to more problems, naturally. However, this is just a sideshow to the reporter’s attempted seduction of Dr. Brown and the glorious mayhem that ensues. Continue reading
They Shoot Horses Don’t They? is set in the dark years of the l930s, when dance marathons became popular as a way for desperate people to compete for prize money. Sometimes the events would drag on for weeks as contestants pushed themselves far beyond the point of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, the dancers shambling around the floor in a half-dead stupor. People would then pay to sit in the bleachers, watch the event and cheer on their favourites. Taken from hard-boiled pulp writer Horace McCoy’s novel of the same name, Jane Fonda plays a bitter young woman paired up with Michael Sarrazin for the ordeal. Gig Young portrays the unctuous MC of the event, bringing equal parts compassion and sleaze to his role. Many of the film’s images are unforgettable, such as “the derby”, a heel-and-toe race around the dance floor with bouncy, light-hearted music to accompany the miserable spectacle. It’s a powerful, tragic period piece that reminds us of the privations of the Great Depression. In the largest sense, the film has existential overtones that go far beyond the story of enervated dancers staying on their feet for a month or more. This film brought home a string of Academy Award nominations for the cast and director Sydney Pollack and a win for Young. Continue reading