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La Nuit des Horloges

Night of the Clocks
La Juit Transfigurée

France 2007
produced by
Jacques Orth for Les Films ABC, Avia Films
directed by Jean Rollin
starring Ovidie, Francoise Blanchard, Dominique, Maurice Lemaître, Nathalie Perrey, Jean-Loup Philippe, Jean Depelley, Fabrice Maintoux
written by Jean Rollin, music by Philippe D'Aram

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Apparently, Isabelle (Ovidie) has inherited the mansion of her cousin Michel Gent, a filmmaker she hardly knew. But when she wants to visit his tomb at the cemetary, she instead finds all sorts of phantoms from Gent's body of work, all figments of his imagination that suggest he might still be alive - but maybe not in the conventional form.

At the mansion, the housekeeper gives her a tour of the place that is littered with books and objects that have influenced Michel Gent, mostly from the realm of pulp and surrealism ... and for some reason, there are grandfather's clocks almost everywhere, and some of them even seem inhabited (!). Somehow, Isabelle is drawn into a grandfather's clock, that weirdly enough is the gateway to another part of the mansion, one that is littered with mannequins representing bizarrely mutilated human bodies. The phantoms from Michel Gent's films though continue to haunt Isabelle, and led by the housekeeper, they become increasingly menacing. Eventually though, Isabelle makes it back to her room, where she meets one of Gent's regular actresses, an eccentric old woman, and finally Gent himself, who emerges from (where else?) a grandfather's clock. He invites Isabelle to come with him to the land between life and death, but she outright refuses, instead throws that particular grandfather's clock out of the house. The housekeeper ridicules her, and as if to prove there is nothing wrong with the clock, that it's nothing but a clock, she enters it - and does not disappear - but now Isabelle douses it in petrol and sets it afire (and the housekeeper with it) to put an end to the horror.

 

Above all else, this film by Jean Rollin is an hommage - to himself, his influences, to his body of work, and thus it includes excerpts from all his best filmsr, features many Rollin regulars and elements from his former films (especially of course grandfather clocks doubling as gateways, and labyrinthine mansions and cemetaries to mirror his labyrinthine plots), and even the name of the elusive filmmaker himself, Michel Gent, is an allusion to Rollins full name, Jean Michel Rollin le Gentil (and it also has to be noted that Rollin shot most of his pornographic films as Michel Gentil).

Yet while it might be somehow charming to spot the references to Rollin's body of work as well as his influences, La Nuit des Horloges is not a terribly good film, it seems that just like Isabelle is looking for her filmmaker-cousin, Rollin is looking for a plot. Sure, his films have always been sketchy, storywise, but usually they still seemed to be made from one coherent piece of vision - not so here, where the plot seems to be little more than a travelogue through his better films, with all of the key elements thrown into this one just to please Rollin-fans, yet without much rhyme or reason. And there's another problem with this film: It's awfully talky (at least by Jean Rollin-standards), and dialogue has never been Rollin's strong point (which is why there is so little of it in his films so far).

That all said, La Nuit des Horloges is not a total failure, at least at times Rollin demonstrates he hasn't forgotten how to bring morbid and poetic images to the screen, and goes further in terms of surrealism than ever before, but to be quite honest, if you are not familiar with Rollin's work, which this is an hommage to, you will simply not get the film, and if you are, you will love parts of it but as a whole still be somewhat disappointed.

 

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