Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974)

I have read of the elusive cult that targets and stalks vulnerable victims while driving them to madness and suicide. They have a preferred method of friending those who’ve come into their domain, gaining the trust of the unfortunate, lonely soul who would likely not see the danger until it is too late. These sect members appear to live normal lives and are closely associated with each other in their own community, so that there’s no trouble at all once they’ve acquired a corpse for "God knows what". Once all is done, there is no memory of the unfortunate, no mourning, and no suspicion, as if the victim had never been born at all. 
Now I fear my own sanity is beginning to grow unsteady… The illusions of painful memories that appear before my eyes as though no time has passed since those tragic events…. The scary faces that follow and stare at me on my nightly walks home from work. I worry that I will soon be wiped clean from existence, in memory and in name. What will become of my body after they’ve taken me?
It all started after tasting the bitter wine that was offered to me from a so called friend, but my grip on reality really started to falter after he had me view Francesco Barilli’s THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK, a masterpiece from the golden era of Italian horror in serious need of praise and discovery. Allow me to divulge a bit more: 
The film's main character, Silvia Hacherman (Mimsy Farmer), lives alone in an archaic apartment complex and is the boss of a research and development facility. What awaits her is a spell of madness that results in resurfaced tormenting childhood memories, haunting visions of her dead mother in a black dress, and a newfound murderous instinct. A nice touch and an eerie hint of the dark mystery between Silvia and her deceased mother occurs early on when a populated cemetery she’s visiting becomes quiet and empty after viewing and laying flowers on her mother’s headstone. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jean Rollin's Fascination (1979)

Some find the experience of tasting blood to be exciting, sexually arousing, and empowering. A condition known as “clinical vampirism” is an obsession for consuming blood due to a belief in its ability to grant life enhancing vitality. Given the awareness of this vampiric tendency in some, it’s not surprising that history is filled with unsolved murders of victims who appear to have been killed under conditions strongly suggestive of vampirism. Jean Rollin’s 1979 opus FASCINATION is an interesting and bewitching take on the idea of craving blood that is coupled with the director’s superior visual style and erotic nature.
Jean Rollin’s FASCINATION is an intriguing tale set in 1905 that begins with mesmerizing visuals that captivate and draw the viewer in, before the story unfolds. At the start, we are treated to the lovely sight of an antique phonograph set on a bridged pathway over a body of water where two women in white (Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Mai) are enjoying a ballroom style dance. Elsewhere on a different day in a bloody butcher house, high society women in fancy dress stand around and participate in the “latest fashion” of drinking ox blood as a therapy for anemia, which I felt to be an interesting take on vampirism, and it also feels like a mockery of sorts for wine tasting clubs. The beautiful but grim sight of these ladies drinking blood from a wine glass standing in a pool of blood is a darkly poetic visual done in a way only Rollin could and is an image that will stick with you forever.