- X 2019
The Beast in Heat / Devil's Ecstasy
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
Available on DVD !
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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!