The Night of The Hunted (1980) DVD Review

noth1The Night of The Hunted (French, 1980)

Dir: Jean Rollin

Starring: Brigitte Lahaie, Vincent Garder, Dominique Journet

Out now on UK DVD from Salvation Films – HERE

Website – http://www.salvation-films.com

Plot: The Night of The Hunted (known in it’s native French as “La Nuit Des Traquées”) follows Elizabeth (Brigitte Lahaie), an amnesiac on the run. She’s discovered by Robert(Vincent Garder), a young man who tries to help her but it isn’t long before Elizabeth is recovered by the doctor she was trying to escape and returned to the foreboding Black Tower facility. The facility is full of other patients suffering from the same loss of memory as Elizabeth and have become frightened and dangerous. Elizabeth attempts to escape again before she finds out what gruesome plans the doctor has for her.

The Night of the Hunted, a film by the late Jean Rollin, is a key example of Rollin’s particular style of cinema. Made in the days of exploitation cinema, it’s soaked in blood and sex. Yet it’s also bizarre and dream-like. Rollin had the reputation of making surreal films with other films including The Grapes of Death, The Living Dead Girl, and Fascination. His films are tinged with the erotic and the macabre and The Night of the Hunted is no exception.

noth2The Night of The Hunted is a slow paced movie, it moves along in a stroll from scene to scene often lingering too long. For those with little patience this can be quite grating,but it reflects the mind of the protagonist, Elizabeth. She’s moving but she’s not sure where. The film gains momentum as she manages to work out a plan but gets muddled again as she loses her way again.

Rollin also uses a lot of sex in this movie, to the extent that it does come off as a bit gratuitous, but with the protagonist struggling to remember even the most basic details it works. The moments of extreme sex and violence stand out amongst the slow moments, the easily forgotten moments. The bits that you’ll remember only until the next act of extreme sex and violence.

The Night of the Hunted can be read as either a very deep film or a very shallow film depending on how you interpret it. After 35 years certain elements definitely feel dated. The exploitation elements of sexuality and violence against the mentally ill both come off as pretty insensitive in this day and age.Unlike some other films in the past that have used mental illness in their horror, The Night of the Hunted thankfully doesn’t try to blame the symptoms on an existing disease, but the state of the facility does seem to reflect the idea of mental health facilities, cruel and bleak. It demonises the patients as violent and disposable. The sex can be justified like I previously stated but it also feels like they were just pandering to the audience too.

noth3The Night of the Hunted isn’t a film for everyone, it’s slow pace might bore some and the graphic nature might offend others. The latter is this film’s legacy though, the extreme nature of French horror that has also given us films like Inside, Martyrs and Frontier(s). If you like your horror gruesome,French, and weird, this film is for you.

7/10

The Night of The Hunted has a number of DVD extras including the trailer, extra scenes, stills from the movie and trailers for other releases through Redemption.

The Devil of Kreuzberg (2015) Review

THe Devil of Kreuzberg Movie PosterThe Devil of Kreuzberg (2015)

Director: Alexander Bakshaev

Starring: Naiden Angelov, Justine Assaf, Alexander Bakshaev

Linda (Sandra Bourdonnec ) and Jakob (Ludwig Reuter) spend nearly every moment of their lives together. Romantically entangled, the couple seems to have a relationship that others will never see in an entire lifetime. However, when Jakob begins having dark, violent dreams of Linda, in which she is seductively murdering him, he begins to have his doubts about the longevity of his commitment. How does any sensible boyfriend back out from a potentially homicidal breakup? Jakob makes the first move.

There is a lot going for this short film by Alexander Bakshaev and at first glance all of the elements mashed together can be quite a bit overwhelming. Pacing is slow, but deliberate, with a focus on character development over flair, and, at times, paints some beautiful and weird scenes into an intense tale of love and betrayal. The Devil of Kreuzberg works best when dialogue is removed and the actors are forced to convey relationships via actions instead. Some of the writing is ham-fisted, maybe even a bit forced at times, but pulls together with an offbeat story and some competent acting.

The Devil of Kreuzberg CoupleIf you have read any of my previous reviews, you know that I enjoy sound scores and ambient music in my genre films and The Devil of Kreuzberg did a solid job of wrapping indie music and over indulgent (but oh-so-good) 1970s Euro fare into the experience. The music compliments the emotionally removed acting, though much of what is accomplished feels right at place with the surreal quality of the film. Several dance numbers, a focal point for the emotional intensity and darkness in which the characters wallow, are akin to watching an alluring sideshow act. Think Dario Argento directs an episode of Twin Peaks and you may be close to what was attempted within the director’s vision.

Alexander Bakshaev wears his influences proudly on sleeve with a forty minute wink and a nod to some of the delightfully bizarre Italian genre films of yesterday. Complete with occult and paranormal backdrops, The Devil of Kreuzberg re-imagines a more contemporary spin of the classic Giallo without losing sight of what made (and still makes) those films so fun to watch. Although a more full length romp would have made this salute to Italian cinema maestros more effective, I could not help but smile at one of the few modern films to at least try to emulate what has long been considered one of the most endearing periods of horror cinema.

The Devil of Kreuzberg WorshipI really want to watch this a second time, give it another spin and see how I feel after fully digesting what is occurring throughout the short running time. I was pleased by the willingness to try something different, drawn in by the film’s adoration of some of my favorite influential flicks, and left desiring a longer, more polished director’s cut. However, I salute Alexander Bakshaev for walking the path untraveled and recommend this to any fan of independent film or student of film making. The Devil of Kreuzberg hits all of the right notes like a teenage boy managing to unhook a bra without looking for the first time, accidentally on purpose, and I look forward to the evolution of this nostalgic, Eurotrash meets arthouse style. Well done.

7/10