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Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead)

Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead) (1969)


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Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 1



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Movie Info

Released in Europe as Histoires Extraordinaires and Tre Passi Nel Delirio, this is a portmanteau picture, comprised of three supernatural playlets based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. "Metzengerstein," directed by Roger Vadim, stars the director's then-wife Jane Fonda as a medieval woman prone to acts of vengeance. Her brother Peter Fonda is somewhat perversely cast as her cousin, for whom she holds incestuous yearnings. When he gives her the cold shoulder, she spitefully sets fire to his

Feb 4, 1999

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (2) | DVD (12)

Only Fellini (Toby Dammit) really manages to make much of his source.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[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.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It offers pleasures above and beyond its status as a relic of a groovier and exponentially more swinging era.

March 19, 2003 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Definitely worth a look for fans of the involved directors, though such fans probably already own it.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source:

Three devout libertines have a go at Poe, fear and trembling invade their debauchery voluptuously

January 27, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion

None of the three European director's stories catches the macabre flavor of Poe.

January 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Intriguing and mostly successful.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

If the other two stories had also been done by Fellini, the whole offering might have been much better.

August 29, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

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.

April 5, 2006 Full Review Source:

Horrific? Not really. But interesting to watch.

July 2, 2004

See it for Fellini's hilarious "Toby Dammit" sequence. (Elsewhere Jane and Peter Fonda play lovers...)

March 10, 2004
F5 (Wichita, KS)

The Fellini part is brilliant. The rest is not.

October 1, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

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.

May 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

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.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source:

more of an interesting exercise in literary adaptation than a fully satisfying work of art

December 2, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Not what I would have expected... but hey, we are defined by our contradictions, no?

November 26, 2001 Full Review Source:

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.
December 11, 2010

Super Reviewer

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.
May 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

the 3rd segment by Fellini, "Toby Dammit", is amazingly kinetic, and Malle's has some disturbing touches
January 9, 2008

Super Reviewer

european filmmakers paid homage to the great Edgar Allan Poe. Fellini's Toby Dammit, with a great performance by a deranged Terence Stamp, is the best of them all. excellent feminine presence by the two sexy Jane Fonda and Brigitte Bardot.
August 12, 2007

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Toby Dammit (DE)
  • Toby Dammit (UK)
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