The final installment of my random Netflix encounters comes from director Jean Rollin. Since we gave the British a try with Killer Moon, I thought it fair to let France ruin an hour or so of my life. It was shot in 1973 and the description included something about a couple going to a cemetery and not being able to get out. In addition, they are being stalked by something / someone. That’s what it said. Sounds decent, right?
With French films, especially early and low-budget, there comes black and white images of tear drops, shadows, and a clown taking a train into the distance while holding a rose. Jean Rollin was apparently known for doing vampire flicks that stood at the threshold of pornography. Yet, he developed acclaim for his style and effort.
This movie was a continuous trade-off of visual expression and straightforward blunt storytelling. The couple in question started off looking rather creepy when they meet at a wedding. They decide to go on a date; a picnic in a cemetery…a very large cemetery. There’s lots of European-glances, a few soft-spoken French lines, and a random dip into an underground tomb for a roll in the hay. Oh, and a sad clown wanders into the graveyard to pay his respects to my nerves.
I dare say, I was getting a bit bored. I appreciate pacing and building tension. This couple was so down-right void of personality, I kept checking the remote to make sure I hadn’t paused the movie. The Girl (that’s her name in the credit), Francoise Pascal, is an actress who seemed to have moderate success even here in the states, landing a role on Young & the Restless, a CBS soap opera. In this movie, she spent the first half of the movie, looking shy and shyly exposing her breasts. Meanwhile, her date (played by Hughes Quester), came off as a socially and mentally unhinged as he lusts after the Girl, looking creepy and creepily exposing his splotchy back hair.
Things feel as they are taking a turn when night time finally falls on the couple. They try to leave but find that the paths have vanished along with the exit. They walk, run, and fight their way across the sea of tombstones. The fights are amusing because they come from nowhere and go nowhere. Also, the biggest one consists of him rolling her around on the ground, tearing her clothing as she screams…Why? Because she’s scared. Yeah, nothing cures fear like trauma from being manhandled by a guy on your first date. France really is the country of amour.
At some point, the movie finally decides they’ve had enough footage of the couple wandering and talking about the dead, they amp up the story by having the Girl go crazy. The Guy runs away from her and falls in an open gravy full of bones. She shows up and falls in with him. They have sex again, because…why not?
He stumbles out (though they spent minutes making it seem as if he couldn’t) and decides he needs to go back to the tomb from round one’s sex-capade for a watch he left behind. As he goes down in there, the Girl closes the doors on top of him and locks him in. After a monologue, she opens it back up and goes down with him…I’m guessing to have sex with him again (I actually, I read that he was supposed to have suffocated from the 30 seconds he was in there). A woman I’ve never seen before arrives and puts a flowerpot on top of the tomb door. The end…and not once did we ever see them being stalked (unless that was meant to be metaphorical).
Honestly, this movie had a very nice setting and I enjoyed the lighting at nightfall. The Girl was pretty and the touches of mystery were appreciated, but when it was all over I felt like I had been watching a pair of faded French panties blowing in the wind for an hour and a half. That…that just doesn’t work for me.