Saturday, June 28, 2014

Two very visual films I loved recently


 After seeing Morgiana I wanted more Juraj Herz films in a similar style (a few of his newer films look very different), there aren’t many of his films on English dvd but I found that there was a dvd with no English title on the box but did have English subtitles in the disc: Panna A Netvor (in this disc’s subtitles for the film this is translated as “Virgin And The Beast”, not “Beauty”).

 This is a really beautiful film, the actress is very cute but most of the pleasure is from the amazing scenery. The surreal paintings that start the film, a short scene of the woods of bare falling trees but mostly the amazing home of The Beast which is just a messy ruins of a mansion. The lovely gothic mess becomes like a maze in some places and it made me wonder if this was a real derelict place or if it was meticulously designed for the film. There are quite a few nice features in the house which are definitely designed by the filmmakers.
 Like Morgiana there is pipe organ music but far more of it here, taking up most of the soundtrack; I can never get enough pipe organ in my life.

 My complaints are that the costume is a tad goofy looking (but it isn’t a lion faced beast this time, which is interesting) but the expressive eyes of the beast compensate for that a little. The choices and evolution of the characters’ feelings are not very convincing.
 There is a scene in which the beast while riding a horse chases a baby deer and repeatedly nearly tramples it, the deer keeps falling and it looks like this wouldn’t have happened that way with today’s animal protection helpers (but I have been surprised before by films that were completely approved by the animals’ protectors, I can’t judge what is too harsh on the animals). 
 The soundtrack repeats the main theme far too often.
 I’ve seen clips of other Juraj Herz films with a similar sense of design but I need to find out what they are and if I can get them.
 I’m excited by the idea of there being more hidden gems to find of eastern European fantasy and fairy tale films.


 I’m generally not fond of the idea of nostalgic retro pieces but I’ve found that the majority of my favourite horror films of recent years have been heavily inspired by or are emulating older films. To me Amer and Berberian Sound Studio were just as good as the best Italian horror films. I liked Black Swan too. A Field In England was a less obvious mixture of influences and it converted me to Ben Wheatley after being a bit lukewarm on Kill List.
 I’ve heard there are even Jean Rollin and Jess Franco imitators coming out and I’d be interested to see that too.

 As well as Amer I loved Cattet/Forzani’s short films, including their contribution to ABCs Of Death (the obvious highlight of the whole film). I was surprised to find this dvd in the shops so early, I thought it would be another 5 months or so before I saw it.

  This film has more direct references to previous Italian horror films but thankfully without the sort of winking at the audience that usually includes; lots of parts from old soundtracks too. There is a strong Art Nouveau direction and it takes more from the purely supernatural Argento films like Suspiria and Inferno.

 I liked this even more than Amer, it’s totally packed with great shots and more good imagery than a lot of horror directors manage in their entire careers. From looking at reviews by less satisfied people, I see they felt bored by the endless stream of images without clear plot threads but this incoherent nightmare is what I very often hope for in films but too rarely get. The suspense was spread very wide and some of the sequences are really fantastic. My attention was totally eager.

 I could see the giallo trend getting a bit old in the future and I have trouble envisioning Cattet/Forzani making a whole career of it, but please keep films with this more visual approach coming.

1 comment:

Terri said...

your writing about 'Strange Colour..' etc pretty much mirrors my feelings about these recent films! I am excited about the way these new horror films are going, taking all the arty visual things and sounds i love from 60s/70s films but without any of that clever-clever annoying Tarantino sort of referencing. And I hear the new Peter Strickland film is meant to be very Rollin/Franco inspired so i'm very much looking forward to that!