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I May Destroy You
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Not Rollin's best times...You could watch it only if you've seen his masterpieces first..
Bizarre, surreal film even by Rollin's standards; much more interesting than many of his vampire flicks.
Monday, October 7, 2013
(1980) The Night Of The Hunted
(In French with English subtitles)
ADULT HORROR/ SOCIAL COMMENTARY
A woman wearing her sleeping clothes on is seen wandering along the highway. Her expressions are a total blank but a young man comes to pick her up and finds that she has a poor memory who has a knack to forget what ordinary people would remember such as where and who she was. We then find that people were following her car too as they wait for him to go to work. These two people would then come to pick her up as they know more than viewers do.
Not so much a horror film as much as a social commentary film about alienation particularly from the government where theirs a point A and a point B. There are a few scenes of gore but the real horror is the thought about how people of higher authority treat the unfortunate. And perhaps with a higher budget, this film wouldn't be that bad.
3 out of 4 stars
Rollin has a go at urban horror--Futuristic. Gory. Sexy. Surreal!!
A beautiful woman is imprisoned in an unofficial secret asylum housed in a skyscraper with dozens of patients; because they all suffer from short-term amnesia and can only remember events from the last few minutes, no one understands why they are there. This movie has some pacing issues, including softcore sex bits that don't really fit the existential mood, but the patients' strange and tragic fate is intriguing and unique. Did Christopher Nolan see this before writing MEMENTO?
All of Jean Rollin's films that I have seen bring this dream-like atmosphere to the table but this film's atmosphere really stood out. It's essentially a horrific mediation of memory and the utter isolation and loneliness which one would encounter without it. Though the plot isn't particularly necessary, it's about a group of people, who due to accidental radiation exposure, are slowly losing ll of their brain cells. They are quarantined in a building referred to as "the Black Tower". The atmosphere is downbeat but incredibly effective at giving off this quiet sense of dread and mystery--a synth score which reminded me of John Carpenter, also adds to this. I'm sorry, this review is pretty terrible, but I really have a hard time putting Jean Rollin's films into words. This film in particular is so much about feeling and the horror of losing everything about oneself that makes life worth living. The scenes where Elizabeth is free of 'The Black Tower' after being picked "saved" by the man who she later becomes intimate with, are much more free and comforting than the scenes in the 'Black Tower'. While in the tower, I loved the scenes in the common areas where the individuals seemed to find comfort in being near each other, as if psychical contact was the only way they could feel connect with one and other. I fucking loved the ending of this film, the transformative and healing power of love which Rollin seems to suggest is all anyone needs, regardless of memory, intellectual ability, etc. This is the type of film that I feel silly slapping a rating on, but I will anyway.
I saw this as a powerful metaphor for having a loved one with Alzheimer's, I found this very interesting.
A young man is driving in the French countryside at night when he spots a beautiful woman (Brigitte Lahaie), dressed only in a nightgown, standing in the road. She tells the driver her name is Elisabeth but seems confused and frightened. She insists someone is pursuing her but can't say whom. She begs the fellow to take her with him, so he places her in his car and somehow misses seeing a nude redheaded woman just off the road calling out to Elisabeth for help. He carries the girl to his flat in Paris and after questioning her learns that she seems incapable of retaining memories for any length of time. He tells her his name is Robert but she even has trouble remembering that only a few minutes later. She asks him to please not leave her alone because she knows she'll forget him as soon as he isn't there to remind her of what she has experienced. Magnetically drawn to each other, the pair makes love in a tender scene, during which Robert tells Elisabeth to watch his face so she'll always remember this time together. But the next morning after Robert goes to work, Dr. Francis breaks into the flat and convinces Elisabeth to return with him to his high-rise clinic where he is treating dozens of people with her memory deficiency. Once in the clinic she finds the redheaded girl from the night before and learns that they can remember each other's names but little else about their relationship. The two friends attempt another escape and manage to contact Robert but are quickly recaptured. A frantic and lovesick Robert locates the clinic and is told by Dr. Francis that his patients are suffering from a disease that slowly robs them of all their mental functions. The doctor has been trying to treat them but has had no success. He explains that, ultimately, all the afflicted become like the walking dead with no cognitive abilities. But Robert refuses to believe him and is determined to rescue his beloved.
The films of Jean Rollin are unusual in ways that many find off-putting. They usually meander around colorfully surreal or absurd images and morbid situations for long stretches so that it becomes unclear where the (sometimes thin) narrative is going. They always have a dreamlike tone that can drive some viewers mad with the desire to hit the fast forward button. But for those who share Rollin's sensibilities, these films are gorgeous and evocative pieces that seem lifted out of a fascinating other world. The stories are a mixture of quaint old pulp conventions and wild sexual excitement that, at its best, blends into something no one else in cinema really tries. There are points of similarity between Rollin and Jess Franco, but where Franco seems more interested in pumping out as many films as possible, I feel Rollin has a stronger body of work. Rollin always seems to have a central idea around which he's gathering images in the same way a poet will collage words. He layers quiet, moody shots of beautiful, melancholy women walking through gorgeous locations with horrific images of bloody violence in what seems to be an effort to get beyond the shock of the juxtaposition and question the feelings that are provoked. Since the violence is often linked with sexuality there is a reoccurring idea in his films that sex is both the beginning and ending of life. Indeed, in The Night of the Hunted sex is the only thing the poor afflicted souls can experience and remember.
This isn't the sex-equals-death concept of so many American slasher films but a more European view of sex as a transformative and healing act even when it's linked with danger. Rollin's parade of undead creatures are almost always beautiful but tortured. Unhappy in life they are just as unfulfilled in death - but are now robbed of the choices life afforded. Joy is always in the past for Rollin's characters and tears are their only response. In Night of the Hunted the diseased people aren't zombies or vampires but are rendered "dead" all the same. Their tragedy is made all the more touching by its gradual, degenerative nature putting me in mind of the victims of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
The Night of the Hunted (La Nuit Des Traquées) is often cited as one of Rollin's weakest films but I don't feel that way, if anything its one of my favorites as you can see from this very long-winded review. It's famous for its small budget and two-week shooting schedule, but even though its extremely low budget is occasionally evident I think the director stages his story well enough to hide most of its financial shortcomings. The performances are not exceptional by any means but get the job done effectively and the frequent nudity is a plus that distracts me from a few of the more wooden actors. In all honesty, the film could be much worse than it is and I would still champion it simply because of its inspired final shot. The image of two defeated and desolate characters walking away from the camera into the distance becomes the antithesis of riding off into the sunset. It's a haunting and deeply effecting image that stays with me for weeks after every viewing. As cheaply produced as this film is, I enjoy it a great deal more than some of Rollin's more expensive works. I wouldn't start a newcomer to Rollin's movies here since it lacks his usual vampires and phantasms, but it might be a good second feature to try out
The Night Of The Hunted was a bit of a slow move, but ultimatly the payoff was good. It starts out like gandbusters but then it became a descent into madness were all we basically do is follow around characters who try to remember their lives and themselves. It really does become trying on the veiwer after so long. Unlike his vampire films were the surreal atmosphere is just as much a centeral character i had a harder time with it here. But i didnt dislike this. The explanation at the end really sold me. Brigitte Lahaie was really outstanding. You usually cant say that about a Porn actress. But her acting was really good. I can see why Rollin used her so much.