There’s a moment in this curious film when the characters from Jean Rollin’s earlier films seem to visit the shoot. The two lovers are in a graveyard and, as night approaches, a clown* appears to lay a wreath whilst a tall vampiric nobleman enters into a tomb… both nods to Rollin’s previous film Requiem for a Vampire and other genre staples.
|A special guest clown...|
Is the restraint deliberate or was the director playing as safe as he could to guarantee distribution?
That said, there’s plenty of the lovely Françoise Pascal on view late in the film to satisfy connoisseurs of seventies sex-kittens if not sexploitation… it’s all in the best possible taste.
|Françoise Pascal on the beach...|
The story starts at a wedding where Pascal’s ballet dancer meets a young poet played by Hugues Quester. The wedding party is filmed naturalistically well by Rollin – you can almost believe that he hi-jacked a real one.
|The wedding party... Boy meets Girl|
|A walk in the park...|
They look for the way out but gradually come to realise that they’re lost and trapped inside. The tensions between the two starts to grow – the boy gets a little violent and the girl starts to be overcome by the presence of the dead.
|Hugues Quester in a spin.|
The Girl comes across a grave with the metal rose we saw at the beginning drifts into her beach-bound reverie: this was not someone looking back in happiness but ready to surrender to the darker side of her nature.
I won’t give anything more away as this is one to watch, especially if you like your horror gothic rather than graphic.
Both the leads are superb with Hugues Quester the rational poet who refuses to be overcome with superstition. Françoise Pascal – who many in the UK might remember from the sit-com, Mind Your Language, is a revelation here and holds much of the film’s horrific intent internally. Her acting is subtle and never over-worked… no screaming or hysterics, just the gentle calm of the truly spell-bound.
Rollin directs with aplomb, choosing some cost-effectively eerie settings and making the most of the landscape and the light. All is underpinned by a suitably jarring and very Floydian experimental score from Pierre Raph (les Français adore le Pink Floyd!).
Dusty verdict: Well worth grabbing on DVD – available here – if you fancy the kind of horror that accumulates rather than overwhelms. Pascal’s excellence makes up for some pacing issues in the latter half.
*That is indeed Mireille Dargent who also dressed as a clown in Requiem… Rollin’s way of saying you’re not getting what you’re expecting? Well, just a little…
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