Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead) (1969)
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Adaptations of three short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Metzengerstein, directed by Roger Vadim, features Jane Fonda as a woman who believes that a horse possesses the spirit of her dead cousin; "William Wilson," directed by Louis Malle, stars Alain Delon as an Army officer who murders his double; and "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" is updated by director Federico Fellini into a tale of a jaded movie star (Terence Stamp) who has a fatal encounter with the devil, who has taken the form of a little girl. … More
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Critic Reviews for Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead)
Only Fellini (Toby Dammit) really manages to make much of his source.
[Toby Dammit] is marvelous: a short movie but a major one. The Vadim is as overdecorated and shrill as a drag ball, but still quite fun, and the Malle, based on one of Poe's best stories, is simply tedious.
It offers pleasures above and beyond its status as a relic of a groovier and exponentially more swinging era.
Definitely worth a look for fans of the involved directors, though such fans probably already own it.
Three devout libertines have a go at Poe, fear and trembling invade their debauchery voluptuously
None of the three European director's stories catches the macabre flavor of Poe.
If the other two stories had also been done by Fellini, the whole offering might have been much better.
Episode 3, however -- this is the one people talk about when they talk about Spirits of the Dead. Federico Fellini's 'Toby Dammit' stars Terence Stamp in a piece that's a Fellini film festival in miniature.
Horrific? Not really. But interesting to watch.
See it for Fellini's hilarious "Toby Dammit" sequence. (Elsewhere Jane and Peter Fonda play lovers...)
The Fellini part is brilliant. The rest is not.
While Spirits of the Dead doesn't do much justice to Poe's source material, fans of bizarre French cinema should have a pretty good time.
As far as psychological horror goes, the films work well, and that they realize Poe's stories were mainly internalized distortions of the world works to their advantage, even as they approach the material in vastly different ways.
more of an interesting exercise in literary adaptation than a fully satisfying work of art
Audience Reviews for Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead)
This movie features three stories directed by three great foreign directors, and the cast features some of the best foreign actors at the time too. I really liked the stories and seeing all the different directing styles is so cool. I highly recommend this movie.More
Poe's macabre tales are re-envisioned by three auteurs: Vadim, Malle, and Fellini. Vadim's 'Metzemgerstein' is reinterpreted in the form of a debauched, depraved, decadent countess -- Jane Fonda. Her nature is aptly described as a 'petty Caligula.' Orgies, bisexuality, and hedonism abound. Her costumes were late 60's outrageousness. Falling in love with her cousin, played by her brother, Peter, just added to the creepiness factor. Eventually, she and her spirited black stallion are literally consumed by flames.
Malle's vision of 'William Wilson' was my personal favorite. Alain Delon is perfectly cast as a sadist, haunted by his conscience, which is manifested as his doppelganger. Malle's jumpy camera perfectly translates the terror and anxiety experienced by Delon after murdering his doppelganger. By eliminating his superego, he has essentially murdered himself.
Fellini's loose adaptation of Poe's story is replete with surrealistic trademarks. This heightens the absurdity of the story. Terrence Stamp is well cast as an amoralist, tormented actor. His joyride to hell is the most shocking scene in the trilogy.
The combination of the tales is quite moralistic: the devil will always get his due.
the 3rd segment by Fellini, "Toby Dammit", is amazingly kinetic, and Malle's has some disturbing touchesMore
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