Wednesday, September 18, 2013

History Of French Horror Films Collection.

I downloaded a torrent of about a hundred French horror films.
As I watch them I will update and revise with reviews.

Class Trip (1998)
My first impression of this film based on the date of release and the title alone was that this was going to be a horror/comedy along the lines of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988). I could not have been more wrong. Instead, Class Trip (1998) is an interesting exploration of boyhood/adolescence set against the backdrop of a class trip for a group of thirty or so pre-adolescent boys and girls that seem around eleven or twelve years old. The avatar for the audience is Nicholas the son of an over-wrought traveling salesman and an estranged mother. Nicholas is over-protected and his neuroses predispose him to an introspective nature, prone to daydreams. This introspection and daydreaming allow the director to indulge in several flights of magical reality that are genuinely reflective of the daydreaming that I used to indulge in as a boy. The adventures in imaginative reality might not be as appealing to female viewers since the principal character is a young boy, but I think that the film would still be enjoyable for them due to the involving wrap-around story and a competent exploration of the interior psychology of adolescents for adults that may have forgotten what it was like to be a kid.

With A Friend Like Harry (2000)
When I read the title of this one, originally included in the torrent as "Harry He's Here To Help", I thought it was going to be a madcap comedy along the lines of the "Carry On" series of situational British comedies. I was dead wrong. Instead With A Friend Like Harry (2000) is an interesting exploration of one man's obsession with the life of another man carried over from a coincidental acquaintance in primary school. The plot is pretty much as simple as that, but the caliber of acting presented in the interplay between Sergi López as the titular Harry, and Laurent Lucas (who I was first made aware of as the romantic lead in Marina De Van's In My Skin) as Michel, carries what could otherwise have been a readily forgettable exploration of a commonly explored theme of the envy of one person over the life of another. The cinematography of Matthieu Poirot-Delpech and direction of Dominik Moll also helped to make the film an engrossing experience. All scenes were composed with at least a workmanlike competence in composition and visual balance, and a few David Lynchian explorations of magical reality add interesting grace notes and accentuate the surreality of the situational premise which is the thematic lynchpin of the piece. Definitely worth the time and effort inherent seeking out a copy to watch, this one's a keeper that I look forward to watching again someday after I've worked my through the other hundred or so films in the torrent.

Six-Pack (2000)
The French film Six-Pack (2000), directed by Alain Berberian is so completely formulaic and predictable that I can totally understand what's happening with no sub or dub and my limited understanding of French. A serial killer is on the loose and the usual veteran cop / rookie cop team have to track down the killer before he kills again. It's so formulaic it's almost parody and I kind of wish it was a comedy. The scene where the veteran cop meets with an "expert" who explains the motives of serial killers. A scene where a bunch of important looking police types exchange terse words while reviewing photographic evidence of the crimes via slideshow. Looking forward to deleting it off of my hard drive when it's done and I can only recommend it if you're either looking for an example of how to make an unexceptional formulaic serial killer "thriller" or an example of how to avoid making an unexceptional formulaic serial killer "thriller".

Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001)
I remember renting this film from Blockbuster video back in college and not liking it. I was hoping for a werewolf film and if you watch this hoping for a werewolf film like I did you're likely to be pretty disappointed. Instead this is a French period piece with multiple genre disorder that doesn't know what it wants to be. For the most part it is a film of the intrigues of French royalty and their Machiavellian counter-plotting and double-crossing so if that's what you're looking for in a film there's plenty of it to be seen here. There is a bit of horror of the action-horror variety delivered by the monster but the monster itself is disappointing. [SPOILER: It's a "liger" in a steam-punk rhinoceros armor kind of like He-Man's pet tiger by way of steam-punk.] There is also a bit of martial arts action shoe-horned in by way of the "native-american" sidekick who, if not written, was definitely played as the kind of mute noble-savage character that has been embarrassing actual native-americans since people thought it was a good idea to portray them that way in film. Overall I'm glad that it was included in the torrent and that I watched it again so that I'll never make the same mistake again.

Brocéliande (2003)
Broceliande (2003) is not a very good film. Mid-level production, shot competently, but the story is Buffy the Vampire Slayer by way of Tomb Raider, with a Scream twist. It's not difficult to watch, just no fun.
Decent creature design for the monster, but you have to wait an hour of the hour-and-a-half length to even see it and it all culminates in essentially a really non-visually dynamic fight scene from Mortal Kombat the movie. The lead actresses are nice to look at in a French sort of way, but if you want to watch something to see pretty French ladies there's a lot of other options out there. Recommended exclusively for completists with a hard-on for French horror and even then not them unless you want to be an "I told you so." know-it-all like me.

Aquarium (2004)
Aquarium (2004) is a low-budget predictable derivative talky simplified mix of Saw and Sartre's No Exit.
It's not a bad example of how you can make a movie with six people and a room, but it's not going to win any awards for originality from me. If you want to see a small cast in conflict, re-watch The Cube (1997). If you can't get enough of Saw and want a foreign rehash of it watch Spiderhole (2010) instead. But don't waste your time watching Aquarium (2004) like I did.

They Came Back (2004)
They Came Back (2004) is noteworthy if, for nothing else, as the most boring zombie film ever. Although the returners in this film aren't the staggering flesh-craving gore-spattered zombies that film fans have been used to since George Romero's gave birth to the "ghoul" in Night of the Living Dead (1968). Instead they have more in common with the earlier type of voodoo zombie as in I Walked with a Zombie (1943). Mostly mute and wooden and prone to staring, the returners spend most of the time looking blankly off into the middle distance. There are a few films that deal with the return from the dead of loved ones with a relatively benign beginning, later building up to some sort of unhappy ending as the films builds through the second and third acts. The build up in this film is that the returners are boring and not good at their jobs and for some unknown reason all telepathically share a plan to leave on night and set up their own society in some vague underground tunnel system and the whole film builds up to the returners slowly walking towards their intended destination en masse while the military fires at them with what are essentially coma-gas bombs to put the bothersome zombies back to sleep forever. I understand how the film-makers might have been trying to say something about love and loss and life and death and the human condition, but instead it's just a competently produced bore-fest of epic proportions. One particular problem I have is that the film never addresses why everyone who returns came back unmarked and clean like they had just gotten lost on their way back from a semi-formal event at a country club. Do the French not perform autopsies or embalm their dead? Because unless the French just leave their dead to their final rest on stone slabs there should definitely have been a bit of dirt and odor from the mouldering grave about the walking undead. The best thing I can say about this film and my only recommendation is that if you're having trouble sleeping the pace of this film should help you get a restful night's sleep, because I never remember being able to get through this film in one sitting.


  1. This is the list, minus a few films I already deleted:
    [1896] George Melies - First Wizard Of Cinema (1896-1913)
    [1919] J' Accuse
    [1928] Fall Of The House Of Usher
    [1929] Un Chien Andalou
    [1938] J' Accuse
    [1943] La Main du Diable
    [1946] La Belle et la Bête
    [1955] Les Diaboliques
    [1956] Hunchback Of Notre Dame
    [1957] Les Louves
    [1959] The Doctor's Horrible Experiment
    [1960] Blood And Roses
    [1960] Eyes Without A Face
    [1960] Mill Of The Stone Women
    [1964] The Hands Of Orlac
    [1965] Pierrot Le Feu
    [1968] Histoires Extroardinaires
    [1970] The Blood Rose
    [1970] The Butcher
    [1971] Daughters Of Darkness
    [1971] Doctor Orloff Against The Invisible Man
    [1971] Don't Deliver Us From Evil
    [1971] Girl Slaves Of Morgana Le Fay
    [1973] Expulsion Of The Devil
    [1973] Traitement De Choc
    [1975] Flesh Of The Orchid
    [1975] Leonor
    [1975] The Beast
    [1976] Seven Women For Satan
    [1976] The Tenant
    [1980] Night Of Death
    [1983] La Belle Captive
    [1983] Ogroff The Mad Mutilator
    [1983] One Deadly Summer
    [1984] Frankenstein 90
    [1985] Devil Story
    [1987] Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls
    [1988] Rabid Grannies
    [1988] The Vanishing
    [1989] Noce Blanche
    [1990] Baby Blood
    [1991] Ma Vie Est Un Enfer
    [1998] Class Trip
    [1998] Serial Lover
    [1998] Sombre
    [1999] Romance
    [2000] Baise-Moi
    [2000] Crimson Rivers
    [2000] Deep In The Woods
    [2000] Harry He's Here To Help
    [2001] Belphagor
    [2001] Brotherhood Of The Wolf
    [2001] Dark Portals
    [2001] Intimacy
    [2001] Requiem
    [2001] Trouble Every Day
    [2001] Un Jeu D'Enfants
    [2002] Aquarium
    [2002] Bloody Mallory
    [2002] Broceliande
    [2002] Secret Things
    [2003] Haute Tension (High Tension) [Uncut]
    [2003] He loves me. He loves me not
    [2003] Malefique
    [2003] Swimming Pool
    [2003] They Came Back
    [2004] Anatomy Of Hell
    [2004] Calvaire
    [2004] Crimson Rivers 2 - Angels of the Apocalypse
    [2004] I Am The Ripper
    [2004] St. Ange
    [2005] Cache
    [2005] Empire Of The Wolves
    [2005] Lemming
    [2006] Gradiva
    [2006] Resonnances
    [2006] Satan
    [2006] Tell No One
    [2006] The Exterminating Angels
    [2006] The Witching Hour
    [2006] Them
    [2007] Eden Log
    [2007] Fears Of The Dark
    [2007] Frontiers
    [2007] Hellphone
    [2008] À l'aventure
    [2008] Martyrs
    [2008] The Broken
    [2008] Vinyan
    [2009] Amer
    [2009] Humains
    [2009] Mutants
    [2009] The Horde
    [2009] Vertige
    [2010] Lady Blood
    [2011] Livide

  2. The French have got a lot of nerve producing all these films. That being said, please review DELTA FORCE 2: THE COLOMBIAN CONNECTION.

  3. Oh, & scrolling through that list I realized the French have a thing with women having sex with dogs/animals in general. What a bunch of sickos.

  4. There's literally nothing in that list of titles even vaguely indicative of a affinity for "women having sex with dogs and animals". Congratulations Corey Gomes, you're a fucking idiot.