Friday, June 16, 2006
Movie Review: LA PAPESSE
LA PAPESSE is an odd, savage and hypnotic French erotic horror film of the 1970s. Its director Mario Mercier is now better known as an expert on the Tarot and shamanism than he is as a film-maker, having only made one other movie, the earlier and elusive EROTIC WITCHCRAFT aka LA GOULVE. Mercier's occult credentials serve him well, as this film effortlessly achieves a strange supernatural aura that a dozen other occult themed horror films from the same decade couldn't come close to achieving. It concerns a man whose initiation into a pagan cult in a mountainous region of rural France comes at the cost of his wife and ultimately, his life. Weird and lyrical, the film never lets you settle into anything approaching a traditional narrative, instead it throttles you with a stream of violent, sexy and surreal set pieces filled with sadism, primitive special effects, hot naked euro-babes and apparently real honest-to-goddess magickal rites. It almost doesn't matter what it all "means" or whether or not there's a coherent story, it's the oddly galvanizing effect of the images burned into your cerebellum that gives the film it's hedonistic power. Only during a few moments of obvious budget limitation does the spell break; a rather unconvincing fatal dog attack comes to mind. And animal lovers will find offense at certain scenes which could never be put in a feature film today. So beware. Beware also if you like your movies simple and straightforward, with pleasures handed to you on a platter or hammered onto your head. LA PAPESSE makes you work, in effect, initiates you into it's particular, peculiar cult. Can you take it?