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La Bête

The Beast
The Beast in Heat / Devil's Ecstasy

France 1975
produced by
Anatole Dauman for Argos Films
directed by Walerian Borowczyk
starring Sirpa Lane, Lisbeth Hummel, Elisabeth Kaza, Pierre Benedetti, Guy Tréjan, Roland Armontel, Marcel Dalio, Robert Capia, Pascale Rivault, Hassane Fall, Anna Baldaccini, Thierry Bourdon, Mathieu Rivollier, Julien Hanany, Marie Testanière, Stéphane Testanière, Jean Martinelli
written by Walerian Borowczyk

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Aristocrat Pierre de l'Esperance (Guy Tréjan) desperately wants to marry off his sort of weird (and unbaptized) son Mathurin (Pierre Benedetti) to Lucy Broadhurst (Lisbeth Hummel) so he can get his hands on the Broadhurst fortune, and to that end he has even arranged a wedding. Thing is the wedding has to be performed by his cousin the cardinal (Jean Martinelli), who for some reason or other refuses to even speak to Pierre, so Pierre tries to get Ramonello (Marcel Dalio), the cardinal's wheelchair-bound brother, to help, and doesn't even shy away from killing Ramonello when he learns Ramonello sabotages his plans ...

Meanwhile, Lucy has arrived with her aunt Virginia (Elisabeth Kaza), and against all odds she finds herself drawn to Mathurin, who acts all clumsy around the girl. Then Lucy finds some notes about Mathurin's ancestor Romilda, and she starts fantasizing about Romilda (Sirpa Lane) crossing paths with a beast in the forest and starting having sex with the beast. This fantasy makes Lucy really horny, and repeatedly she visits Mathurin in his room for a little bit of you-know-what, wearing less and less, but each time she finds him sleeping - which in turns arouses her more and makes the dreams more vivid until the line between dream and reality gets blurred - but then the beast in the dream dies, leading to disaster in the real world ...

 

La Bête is an attempt to be many things at once, a satire on the decaying democracy and catholic church as well as a romance story, softcore pornography as well as fairy tale, horror-fantasy as well as social commentary - and while this all sounds like a ready-made recipe for disaster, the film actually pulls off being all of these things at once, simply because it doesn't try too hard. Instead of thinking in genre clichés, Borowczyk focuses on his story, which might be more than a little weird and almost surreal, but it's also extremely well-written, perfectly balancing its many divergent elements. And Borowczyk's direction is as elegant (in a non-glossy way) as it is erotic, while the acting really hits the fine line between satire and grotesque without ever becoming just campy.

Very probably Walerian Borowczyk's best films and one of the best (and most unusual) erotic horror films there are. Definitely recommended!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD