The good and the bad-A French horror special

Lèvres de sang

Aka Lips of Blood(1975)

Directed by:Jean Rollin

Cast: Jean-Loup PhilippeAnnie BelleNatalie Perrey

Pure excellence by Jean Rollin.It’s no secret that the writer is a huge fan of the French Auteur,especially of his most characteristic period (Fascination,the nude Vampire,the iron Rose,night of the hunted,Grapes of Death,the Living dead Girl).Lips of blood is part of Rollin’s classic period and bears all the characteristics that made the work of Rollin so distinctive.

But what is so characteristic when we are talking about Rollin?

For starters, his take on horror cinema was totally original. He utilized arthouse cinema cinematography values and plot trappings and while his lush visual compositions are met with general appeal one cannot generally claim the same about his storylines. Truth be told his screenplays were of an acquired taste and not for everyone. Rarely is over the top gore to be found in a Rollin film, even though there are some gory exceptions in his filmography  f.e: Grapes of death & living dead girl.

Lips of blood  is no exception to the French director’s general rule and serves perfectly the Rollin paradigm of what a horror movie really is. Beauty, despair, loneliness, sensuality are combined perfectly in a seemingly pedestrian vampiric story.

Frederick sees a photograph of a ruined seaside castle, which triggers a strange childhood memory. He then goes on a strange quest, aided by four female vampires, to find the castle and the beautiful woman who lives there. A woman that he fell in love with when he was a little boy. His mother refuses to be of any assistance to his quest to find the aforementioned ruins or the woman and tries to protect him from the tragic past of his family.

Seemingly straightforward but very dreamlike and evocative “Lips of blood” plays along the lines of “iron rose” or “night of the hunted” and tells the tale of a love that seems to be doomed. The end might seem “off the cuff”  but it really serves the needs of the narration and it is a very logical conclusion to this beautiful film.

As magnificent as “Fascination” this one comes with the highest of recommendations.

…on the other hand if you want to go bonkers there is another movie for you…

The award goes to:

Il était une fois le diable – Devil Story(1985)

 

Directed by: Bernard Launois

Cast: Véronique RenaudMarcel PortierCatherine Day

The story of this one is a mess. The plot is set on the picturesque French countryside and involves a deformed , SS uniform sporting,  man (also referred to as the monster)who does nothing but dispatching random passers-by for no particular reason.A newly-wed couple wanders aimlessly in the aforementioned countryside, a flat tire occurs, the couple is in need of a shelter and resorts to a local hotel, which is ran by an elderly couple. The couple keeps on telling the tale of how doomed the region is , they imply that a wild black horse might actually be the devil who has cast his curse on this otherwise peaceful area and finally a shipwreck subplot is also involved.

To make things even crazier the newly-wed bride bears an uncanny similarity to the deceased sister of the deformed monster .

This one plays like Polselli meets Franco while both being on drugs. Add a touch of utterly trashy Eurocine production values and an incomprehensible storyline  thrown in the mix and what you’ll get is of course bloody brilliant for all the wrong reasons. Everything and I mean everything is just randomly thrown together in the mix and if someone thinks that the Eurocine period of Jess Franco was bad cinema ,just wait until you encounter this one.

The closest parallel that I can draw is maybe with “Zombie lake” or “revenge of the living dead girls” but still the words seem to fail to properly describe how chaotic “Devil Story” actually is.

It’s a very entertaining mess of cheap effects, nonsensical violence , inane screenplay and bad film making that should be cherished by all bad cinema freaks.

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