29 April, 2008


John Mansell's excellent UK based discussion board focuses on scores for Italian genre films along with other Euro film music.

Visit John Bender's US based discussion board on the music and maestros of your favorite European genre films of the last 50 years! A lot of lively chat here.

I highly recommend these two discussion sites on European Film Scores and the Maestros who composed them. Both were created and are moderated by world-class experts on European Film Scores, John Bender and John Mansell.

Links will soon be added to the blogroll on the left sidebar.

27 April, 2008


Peformance Art: the horror of alien invasion by the silver skinned beings from the planet Goyas who need women to populate their dying world, "From dust to childbirth in 9 seconds."

Upon awakening the nightmare becomes a reality, but it's all just a film... or is it?

Jess Franco, Robert Foster, Lynn Anderson and Tony Skios pretend to play cards as they plot sexual torture to learn the whereabouts of the plans for the submarine in the film-within-the-film. But it's all just a dream within a nightmare as they await a Close Encounter of the Third Kind in Jess Franco's cyclical film, a blend of THE MYSTERIANS, MARS NEEDS WOMEN and Luis Bunuel's THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY. Are you ready for it...?

This is a film which defies conventional synopsis and criticism but does invite amused speculation. Remember, it's a comedy. But Jess Franco's comedy is always self referential and deeply encoded. What follows below is a structural breakdown of the main elements which could be endlessly recycled:

Prod: Joaquin Dominguez Triton P.C. Madrid
Direccion: Jess Franco

A glittering mirrored ball overlooking the mirrored stage area:

THE SHOW: "Pito 1, Pito 2, Pito 3...begin system production acceleration."

BACKSTAGE: the performers.
Take #1
Take #2

MEET ROSALINDA: the producer's girlfriend

HOTEL MONACO: Flanagan bastardo!

EUROPA PARK: On the riverboat-Jess passes; the nude Argentinians; torture.
"The plans for the submarine, stupid!"


WAKING UP: "They're fucking!"
The Director explains.

ACTION: Group sex.

GROUP MARRIAGE: the foursome in bed together read Spanish comic books.


CAFE DE PARIS: Ice cream!

MORE SEX: Buenas Noches

THE DIRECTOR IN THE MIRROR [Jess Franco zooms in on himself operating the telezoom]

VIDEO: Puta! "Women are lips. Just two pairs of lips."



THE SECRET SOCIETY: Cucfat! The ritual-sacrifice of the Puta

WAKING UP: Lina's Masturbation. "It's all an illusion."

Antonio and Lina pick up Rosalinda.


THE SHOW: Aboard the Spaceship. "Begin production acceleration." Applause.

Deposito Legal: M-10-697-81

(c) 2008, Robert Monell

25 April, 2008


Teruo Ishii made my day in 1968 and is still amazing me forty years later...

This in the morning; 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in the afternoon!

Japanese Hell / Hell

Don't look into the karma-mirror, you might not like what you see...

Thanks to Teruo Ishii (1924-2005) for introducing me to STARMAN/SUPER GIANT, via a feature film compilation of several episodes he directed for the 1950s SHINTOHO series, Saturday morning TV airing, on the same day in 1968 when I went to see the original theatrical showing (in 70mm) of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. A double bill I'll never forget. I still like them both more than ever, but for very different reasons.

I finally caught up with the late Teruo Ishii's penultimate film last night via International Movies on Demand and my mind is still reeling. A dire warning to sinners on what awaits them in the afterlife it begins with Miss Rika being visited by the Bitch of the Inferno who narrates in front of a kind of backward waterfall of electric hues. The young woman, an Aum sect devotee, is taken on a guided tour of Hell, where the rest of the cast will soon end up.

Inspired by the 1960 classic, also titled JIGOKU, this is actually a remake which for once actually justifies itself by transposing the idea and imagery onto our own age's anxieties while remaining very much in the ero-guro tradition of Ishii's 1960s work (cf THE HORROR OF MALFORMED MEN, which you need to see immediately if you already haven't; go out and buy the superior Synapse DVD without hesitation!). But Ishii's HELL isn't based on Rampo. Rivaliing the excesses of Jose Mojica Marin's ESTA NOITE ENCARNAREI NO TEU CADAVER (1966)it was partially inspired by an actual event, the Aum sect's gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

Mixing in other stories and episodes concering the corruption of power brokers, the seduction of the naive, contemporary fears about serial predators, referencing contemporary conspiracy theories as well as Dante's INFERNO, and demonstrating Ishii's obvious compulsion to continue his surrealistic vision through severely minimalist techniques due to budgetary and logistical restrictions. The subway incident, for instance, is staged without a single special effect, without any location shooting or any kind of sets whatsoever, just a few actors seated in front a black curtain foaming at the mouth as the camerawork becomes unhinged in the style of Andy Milligan.

You won't know where this film is going and will be left wondering exactly where it's coming from. Unpredictability and compelling ambiguity are high attributes as far as I'm concerned and this is exploitation of a very high order which makes us question the world we live in.

And watch out for those darting rat-sized insects which can seen to represent Ishii's personal brand of noir humor.

In a way, he ended up where he started, with the delightful, penny pinching SUPER GIANT series, creating a roiling alternate universe out of next to nothing. Bathed in noxious blue light the nude, dancing damned await transport across Styx. Don't be one of them!

Just don't compare this film to the 1960 version and you might enjoy it as much as I did. Enjoy is probably not the proper word, though, for the tongue pulling, limb sawing, skin peeling, decapitation antics on display in full arterial splatter mode.
Actually, some of the blindingly intense colors and eye-assaulting visual streams are also in a similar aesthetic modality as the delirium-on-a-shoestring produced by the best of Jess Franco's direct-to-video work from the late 90s and early 21st Century (cf VAMPIRE JUNCTION, SNAKEWOMAN).

*The 2005 Media Blasters DVD presentation isn't exactly High Definition in terms of sharpness and color, but it does give a sense of the film's original palette.

(c) Robert Monell, 2008

24 April, 2008


Do the Three Fantastic Supermen Films belong in The Eurospy Files? I think they've earned a place here. The costumed superheroes visit Turkey [Without Love] in the mind numbing THREE FANTASTIC SUPERMEN AGAINST THE GODFATHER, which we'll be unspooling here soon.

20 April, 2008

The Lies of Zorro

The 1962 French-Spanish version co-scripted by Jess Franco.

One of the things I like about Zorro is that he gets to make fools of corrupt authority figures. Moral relativity? Here's Tyrone Power chatting up Basil Rathbone in my favorite film version of the popular legend, THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940) Rouben Mamoulian's stylishly mounted period adventure. Franco would present a female Zorro (Lina Romay) in his own LES NONNES EN FOLIE. There will be a review of the related EL LLANERO, Franco's 1963 Venezuelan Western, which is very much worth seeing.

A Jess Franco scripted version featured Frank Latimore (PATTON) and Howard Vernon (GRITOS EN LA NOCHE) in those famous roles. A review of that Joaquin Romero Marchent 1962 version (coproduced by Eurocine!) is now up on my DVD REVIEW FORUM on CINEMADROME. Just click on the link at the top of the left sidebar.

18 April, 2008


Why is she here? She has a prominent role in a 1980's Jess Franco film, although you might not recognize her from the above shot, which is not from the Franco title in question.

Can anyone ID her and the Franco film in which she appears?

Thanks to Nzoog for the image.

15 April, 2008


1980 92 MINUTES Trans-World Entertainment (U.S.) DIRECTED BY "CLIFFORD BROWN" (JESUS FRANCO) WITH: AL CLIVER, URSULA FELLNER (Buchfellner), ROBERT FOSTER (Antonio Mayans), WERNER POCHATH, Gisela Hahn, Victoria Adams, Antonio de Cabo, Claude Boisson, Burt Altman (a zombie).

Franco's most notorious venture into cannibal cinema, while not as extreme as ZOMBIE or CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, registers as a definite gross-out, as well as a ripe example of the director's cynicism.

The plot is lurid and unimaginative: A sexy starlet (Ursula Fellner) is kidnapped by ruthless criminals in a European city and whisked away to a tropical island. On the island, the kidnappers torture and molest the terrified woman until help arrives. This takes the form of hero type Peter Weston (Al Cliver, a.k.a. Pierluigi Santi) and his Vietnam vet sidekick (Antonio Mayans, credited as Robert Foster).

The starlet manages to escape before the heroes arrive. She runs straight into the arms of a local native tribe, who are intent on sacrificing her to their living god. Weston puts an end to the the cannibal's bloody rampage by pushing him off a cliff. He sails into the sunset with the topless starlet.

All of this plays even worse than it sounds. The only effective part is the opening, in which Franco intercuts a cannibal tribe pursuing a victim to paparazzi descending upon Fellner at her hotel. It's all down hill from there. The actors probably improvised the whole movie. Franco doesn't seem to give a damn here about his intended audience or fans. Gone is any gesture toward his personal obsessions and his sometimes imaginative use of low-budget filmmaking techniques.
The order of the day on this interminable Italian-French-Spanish-German co-production seems to have been, "Jump on the cannibal bandwagon, pull 'em into the theatres and rip 'em off." And you have to consider this was a Eurocine coproduction, the company who would also back the even worse CANNIBAL TERROR.

The only character seen practicing cannibalism is a seven-foot tall black man {Burt Altman?] with absurdly bulbuous eyes. He wanders around a questionable jungle setting bare-assed, and eats most of the cast. Whenever the cannibal eats flesh, we see him endlessly chew on what appears to be bits of cold cuts dipped in fake blood or perhaps barbecue sauce for flavor. It's sickening and somewhat laughable at the same time.

Almost every scene is technically inept. The cinemagraphy [credited to the usually stylish Juan Soler Cozar] is the some most dismal ever seen in a Franco production. At least half of the movie seems out-of-focus, under-exposed, or over-exposed. An atmospheric background vocal by Carloto Perla, set to music cues by Franco (credited under his own name), and Daniel White adds a sinister touch. The credits play against a blue background under which sounds of a jungle pursuit, heavy breathing, native drums, water splashing, can be heard. This is actually the opening scene which can be viewed in some editions but was covered by the credit cards here.

This ultra-rare TWE (Trans World Entertainment) video version is presented in full-screen format, but the gore scene close-ups appear in letterboxed format [hard-matted] at varying ratios. Wizard Video reportedly released this version in the U.S., as well, under the title MANDINGO MANHUNTER. Another available version, THE DEVIL HUNTER, is an out-of-print PAL format tape from Great Britain that contains additional gore and nudity.

There is a German DVD which reportedly runs around 100m. This TWE tape runs 92. The other US home video presentation DEVIL HUNTER, a very poor presentation from VIDEOASIA omits the opening credits altogether, a number of extreme gore scenes, some nudity and has a black matte across the bottom of the image which blocks out a considerable amount of visual information. This is on a double bill with Manuel Cano's 1972 VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST [a rip from the old US Video] titled TERROR TALES FROM THE HOOD.

Robert Monell

This review was originally written and published in 1998.

(c) 1998-2008 Robert Monell

12 April, 2008


Cover for the excellent new Severin Films DVD presentation of Alfonso Brescia's LA BESTIA NELLO SPAZIO (1980), which contains a colorful 16X9 transfer of the original Italian print with English subtitles. At 92m this is the longest version ever released on video and the first ever R1 DVD of this legendary pillar of European Trash Cinema.

Arriving on the planet Lorigon, space bitch Sondra (Sirpa Lane) is confronted with the terror of Zocor! But it will be only a taste of the rape-horror she will experience under the Beast (Claudio Undari).

A hardcore version will also be available including "deleted scenes." Check the Severin Films site for a link and further details.

Malisa Longo and friends in Al Bradley's amazing STAR ODYSSEY, which would have been considered Family Entertainment compared to THE BEAST IN SPACE!

Numerous cheap, multi disc sets have appeared featuring various "Al Bradley" Italian Sci-Fi epics from the late 1970s. My favorite Al Bradley directed title is the 1969 non science fiction mondo Nel labirinto del sesso (Psichidion).

More Al Bradley sci-fi available on US DVD, but none of them can touch Severin's new disc of the last, and most notorious, of Al's five late 1970s science fiction features.

REVIEW: The late Alfonso Brescia (1930-2001) seemed to have a talent for directing an unusual number of surprisingly memorable "bad" movies. Starting out in the peplum genre with the lavishly absurd CONQUERER OF ATLANTIS (1965), he moved into Spaghetti Westerns TURN...I'LL KILL YOU (1968), Eurocime KNELL, BLOODY AVENGER and, most amusingly, a series of sublime C grade science fiction films made back to back between 1977 and 1979. Featuring actors such as John Richardson and Antonio Sabato as space men along with Yanti Sommers and the extremely hot Malisa Longo as what would be referred to in a 1960's Antonio Margheriti GAMMA ONE entry (PLANET ON THE PROWL) "space chicks."

But nothing he did before or after can compare to LA BESTIA NELLO SPAZIO (filmed in 1978 and released in 1980).

Captain Larry Madison (Vassili Karis) asks for a "Uranus Milk" as the bar inside the post-psychedelic lounge at the space compound. Eyeing the fetching Sondra (Sirpa Lane) who looks like one of the local hookers in her body glitter and high black boots he seats himself and tells her he just returned from a tough job on a red planet which resembled a "mandrill's ass" [that's what the new English subtitles say!]. It's all downhill, or uphill, from there.

After a romp, which is stylishly (for Al Bradley, that is) bathed in red light, with Sondra, the couple takes off on MK-31 for planet Lorigon to search for a valuable mineral. But the roughish Juan Cardosa (VENANTINO VENANTINI) is also en route to hijack the element for his own enrichment.

Lorigon is a heavily forested entity which is ruled by the facist robot Zocor and the patrician Anaph (Claudio Undari). Camping out in Anaph's pad, which is dressed with demon sculptures and LSD plasmatics, the space guys and girls proceed to enjoy a sex orgy presided over by the increasinly sinister-acting host. Sondra has been having nightmares where she is pursued and raped by a hairy half-man, half-beast and she flees Anaph's castle when she realizes he is the creature who will have her.

The nightmare becomes reality as steeds copulate in the offspace (via grainy b&w inserts*). Anaph suddenly grows hooves, rips off her virginal white garb, and humps endlessly away on her. Escaping, Sondra encounters the "Golden Men," yes the robots from Bradley's earlier WAR OF THE ROBOTS are on hand complete with gold wigs and jump suits. Armed with laser-swords they attempt to zap the MK-31 crew into nothingness before they can make off with the mineral which their master Zocor needs to survive! Whew! No, I'm not making all this up.

It all ends happily, of course, without a shred of hardcore footage (outside of the horny horses) to be found in this UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT. But I think you'll enjoy it in any case.**

What makes this all so much fun is the downmarket aesthetic created by Mimmo Scavia's vividly tacky pastel colored set design and those ridiculous ear-flapped helmets desinged by Elena de Carpis. You've seen it all before in previous Bradley space items but never in a delightfully hued, high quality print, correctly letterboxed at 1.85:1, from very nice original lab negative elements purchased, according to the liners, at a Rome bankruptchy auction. Actually, Bradley seems to favor some rather interesting wide angle composiitons. which were never before apparent in clumsy, blurry fullscreen prints.

Enjoying this film one pauses to consider the tragic early death of the Finnish sex-star Sirpa Lane (credited here as Shirpa Lane). Born Sirpa Salo in 1955, she died of AIDS in 1999 after appearing in nine features films, including the notorious and much-banned LA BETE (THE BEAST), the 1975 Walerian Borowczyk-directed hardcore fantasy which Brescia used as a model for this film. She had a unique intensity and elan in the way she expressed her sexuality. But even if, like myself, you haven't seen that famous title, you'll probably want to experience the special madness of THE BEAST IN SPACE.

The funky, high spirited score by Pluto Kennedy (Marcello Giombini) really gives the action a boost and will be familiar to fans of Joe D'Amato's hardcore zombie holocaust, EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980).

Prolific Eurotrash actor Venantino Venantini (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD; CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE) is featured in a 16m featurette, ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE. He amusingly describes (in heavily accented English) his impressions of Alfonso Brescia, locations in the film (including Roman parking garages), and how the Italian genre filmmakers of that era used their creativity, instead of large budgets, to create memorable films.

*Blog reader Kaya Ozcaracalar reports that this footage may be from LA BETE (see comments).

**Note: there are no hardcore shots in this "unrated director's cut." There is much full frontal female nudity, a lot of groping and humping about, but it's the typical 70's softcore style action. XXX inserts were reportedly shot with Marina Hedman/Frajese (Lotar) which must replace some very odd angles which appear to obscure explicit action in this version.

Both versions will street on April 29, 2008, according to the Severin site.

Click on the link for Severin Films on the sidebar at left for more information.

(c) Robert Monell, 2008

06 April, 2008

JUNGLE OF FEAR (1993 Workprint)

Edgar Allan Poe haunted by the spectre of the golden beetle.

The Austrian born William Berger, before his famous drug bust, in a shot from Mario Bava's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (1970). He would go on to appear in a number of Jess Franco films over the next twenty three years until his death in 1993. He fell ill on the set of JUNGLE OF FEAR and died shortly afterwards in Los Angeles.

Jess Franco has adapted Edgar Allan Poe's THE GOLD BUG more than once, most curiously as a kind of Family Film with kung fu action in a tropical setting with 1983's EN BUSCA DEL DRAGON DORADO, a rather bizarre and interesting Golden Films Internacional obscurity featuring children in the lead roles.

In the early 1990's, after the disastrous reception of Franco's edit of Orson Welles' DON QUIXOTE* project, he filmed another version in Spain with the late William Berger (KEOMA; JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA) in what was probably his last film role before his death in October 1993. In fact, Berger looks quite ill in the 125m workprint which I have seen. He plays the hunchback Dr. Quasimodo, who leads the expidition on the final leg of the search for the domain of the golden beetle.

I now have the JUNGLE OF FEAR video clip circulating on YouTube up on my CINEMADROME board. Of course, the timecoded workprint doesn't have the title JUNGLE OF FEAR on the footage since there are no credits. There is also no effects or music tracks. Only a poor quality, heavily accented English language track, which was presumably a guide track recorded with pick-up on-set microphones, and some minimal sound effects are present on the workprint. Franco has talked of completing the project and shooting additional scenes, but at this stage that's unlikely to happen.

The mountains of the South Asian country are covered with dense rainforest. A cobra (a crude mock-up), scorpions and other jungle creatures infest the jungle floor as Machado (Antonio Mayans) cuts his way through the undergrowth toward a gold mine in the style of Indiana Jones. Suddenly, the giant bettle flies out of the hidden cave and attacks the neck of one of the adventurers, turning gold when satiated with blood. So begins JUNGLE OF FEAR.

Besides Berger and Mayans the only other familiar face is Lina Romay who appears as an editor employed by a video producer who leads an expidition around the world in search of the valued bug, a crystal skull and a fortune in gold. Several other groups, including a team of thugs led by dominatrix, are also on the trail. The remainder of the cast is made of expatriate US actors who were working in Spain at the time and an amusing cameo by Uncle Jess himself who appears as a local guide who introduces himself with "Me famous... like Michael Jackson."

Given the poor video quality and lack of complete soundtracks it's still a fascinating artifact. Franco uses what seems like miles of stock footage to represent various South Asian and Far Eastern locations, which is intercut with the improbable adventures of the protagonists. It's all in the spirit of those 1930s and 40s Hollywood Jungle serials. There is an attempt at some humor but it's more unintentionally funny than the ill-timed jokes in this cut. There are numerous missing reaction shots, blown takes, slates and scenes which are incomplete.

A grade Z attempt to replicate INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. I mean that as a compliment!

Click on the CINEMADROME link at the top of the sidebar at left to view the video clip.

Thanks to Francesco Cesari.

An excerpt from the Poe Story:

by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)
What ho! what ho! this fellow is dancing mad!
He hath been bitten by the Tarantula.
All in the Wrong.

MANY years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. William Legrand. He was of an ancient Huguenot family, and had once been wealthy; but a series of misfortunes had reduced him to want. To avoid the mortification consequent upon his disasters, he left New Orleans, the city of his forefathers, and took up his residence at Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, South Carolina.

This Island is a very singular one. It consists of little else than the sea sand, and is about three miles long. Its breadth at no point exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from the main land by a scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way through a wilderness of reeds and slime, a favorite resort of the marsh-hen. The vegetation, as might be supposed, is scant, or at least dwarfish. No trees of any magnitude are to be seen. Near the western extremity, where Fort Moultrie stands, and where are some miserable frame buildings, tenanted, during summer, by the fugitives from Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto; but the whole island, with the exception of this western point, and a line of hard, white beach on the seacoast, is covered with a dense undergrowth of the sweet myrtle, so much prized by the horticulturists of England. The shrub here often attains the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and forms an almost impenetrable coppice, burthening the air with its fragrance.

In the inmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the eastern or more remote end of the island, Legrand had built himself a small hut, which he occupied when I first, by mere accident, made his acquaintance. This soon ripened into friendship --for there was much in the recluse to excite interest and esteem. I found him well educated, with unusual powers of mind, but infected with misanthropy, and subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasm and melancholy. He had with him many books, but rarely employed them. His chief amusements were gunning and fishing, or sauntering along the beach and through the myrtles, in quest of shells or entomological specimens;-his collection of the latter might have been envied by a Swammerdamm. In these excursions he was usually accompanied by an old negro, called Jupiter, who had been manumitted before the reverses of the family, but who could be induced, neither by threats nor by promises, to abandon what he considered his right of attendance upon the footsteps of his young "Massa Will." It is not improbable that the relatives of Legrand, conceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in intellect, had contrived to instil this obstinacy into Jupiter, with a view to the supervision and guardianship of the wanderer.

The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are seldom very severe, and in the fall of the year it is a rare event indeed when a fire is considered necessary. About the middle of October, 18--, there occurred, however, a day of remarkable chilliness. Just before sunset I scrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut of my friend, whom I had not visited for several weeks --my residence being, at that time, in Charleston, a distance of nine my miles from the Island, while the facilities of passage and re-passage were very far behind those of the present day. Upon reaching the hut I rapped, as was my custom, and getting no reply, sought for the key where I knew it was secreted, unlocked the door and went in. A fine fire was blazing upon the hearth. It was a novelty, and by no means an ungrateful one. I threw off an overcoat, took an arm-chair by the crackling logs, and awaited patiently the arrival of my hosts.

Soon after dark they arrived, and gave me a most cordial welcome. Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, bustled about to prepare some marsh-hens for supper. Legrand was in one of his fits --how else shall I term them? --of enthusiasm. He had found an unknown bivalve, forming a new genus, and, more than this, he had hunted down and secured, with Jupiter's assistance, a scarabaeus which he believed to be totally new, but in respect to which he wished to have my opinion on the morrow.

"And why not to-night?" I asked, rubbing my hands over the blaze, and wishing the whole tribe of scarabaei at the devil.

"Ah, if I had only known you were here!" said Legrand, "but it's so long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay me a visit this very night of all others? As I was coming home I met Lieutenant G--, from the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him the bug; so it will be impossible for you to see it until morning. Stay here to-night, and I will send Jup down for it at sunrise. It is the loveliest thing in creation!"

"What? --sunrise?"

"Nonsense! no! --the bug. It is of a brilliant gold color --about the size of a large hickory-nut --with two jet black spots near one extremity of the back, and another, somewhat longer, at the other. The antennae are --"

"Dey aint no tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin on you," here interrupted Jupiter; "de bug is a goole bug, solid, ebery bit of him, inside and all, sep him wing --neber feel half so hebby a bug in my life."

"Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied Legrand, somewhat more earnestly, it seemed to me, than the case demanded, "is that any reason for your letting the birds burn? The color" --here he turned to me --"is really almost enough to warrant Jupiter's idea. You never saw a more brilliant metallic lustre than the scales emit --but of this you cannot judge till tomorrow. In the mean time I can give you some idea of the shape." Saying this, he seated himself at a small table, on which were a pen and ink, but no paper. He looked for some in a drawer, but found none.

"Never mind," said he at length, "this will answer"; and he drew from his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I took to be very dirty foolscap, and made upon it a rough drawing with the pen. While he did this, I retained my seat by the fire, for I was still chilly. When the design was complete, he handed it to me without rising. As I received it, a loud growl was heard, succeeded by a scratching at the door. Jupiter opened it, and a large Newfoundland, belonging to Legrand, rushed in, leaped upon my shoulders, and loaded me with caresses; for I had shown him much attention during previous visits. When his gambols were over, I looked at the paper, and, to speak the truth, found myself not a little puzzled at what my friend had depicted.

"Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, "this is a strange scarabaeus, I must confess: new to me: never saw anything like it before --unless it was a skull, or a death's-head --which it more nearly resembles than anything else that has come under my observation."

"A death's-head!" echoed Legrand --"Oh --yes --well, it has something of that appearance upon paper, no doubt. The two upper black spots look like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like a mouth --and then the shape of the whole is oval."

"Perhaps so," said I; "but, Legrand, I fear you are no artist. I must wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form any idea of its personal appearance."

"Well, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, "I draw tolerably --should do it at least --have had good masters, and flatter myself that I am not quite a blockhead."

"But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I, "this is a very passable skull --indeed, I may say that it is a very excellent skull, according to the vulgar notions about such specimens of physiology --and your scarabaeus must be the queerest scarabaeus in the world if it resembles it. Why, we may get up a very thrilling bit of superstition upon this hint. I presume you will call the bug scarabaeus caput hominis, or something of that kind --there are many titles in the Natural Histories. But where are the antennae you spoke of?"

"The antennae!" said Legrand, who seemed to be getting unaccountably warm upon the subject; "I am sure you must see the antennae. I made them as distinct as they are in the original insect, and I presume that is sufficient."

"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have --still I don't see them;" and I handed him the paper without additional remark, not wishing to ruffle his temper; but I was much surprised at the turn affairs had taken; his ill humor puzzled me --and, as for the drawing of the beetle, there were positively no antennae visible, and the whole did bear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a death's-head.

He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to crumple it, apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual glance at the design seemed suddenly to rivet his attention. In an instant his face grew violently red --in another as excessively pale. For some minutes he continued to scrutinize the drawing minutely where he sat. At length he arose, took a candle from the table, and proceeded to seat himself upon a sea-chest in the farthest corner of the room. Here again he made an anxious examination of the paper; turning it in all directions. He said nothing, however, and his conduct greatly astonished me; yet I thought it prudent not to exacerbate the growing moodiness of his temper by any comment. Presently he took from his coat pocket a wallet, placed the paper carefully in it, and deposited both in a writing-desk, which he locked. He now grew more composed in his demeanor; but his original air of enthusiasm had quite disappeared. Yet he seemed not so much sulky as abstracted. As the evening wore away he became more and more absorbed in reverie, from which no sallies of mine could arouse him. It had been my to pass the night at the hut, as I had frequently done before, but, seeing my host in this mood, I deemed it proper to take leave. He did not press me to remain, but, as I departed, he shook my hand with even more than his usual cordiality.

It was about a month after this (and during the interval I had seen nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from his man, Jupiter. I had never seen the good old negro look so dispirited, and I feared that some serious disaster had befallen my friend.

"Well, Jup," said I, "what is the matter now? --how is your master?"

"Why, to speak de troof, massa, him not so berry well as mought be."

"Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. What does he complain of?"

Dar! dat's it! --him neber plain of notin --but him berry sick for all dat."

"Very sick, Jupiter! --why didn't you say so at once? Is he confined to bed?"

"No, dat he ain't! --he ain't find nowhar --dat's just whar de shoe pinch --my mind is got to be berry hebby bout poor Massa Will."

"Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are talking about. You say your master is sick. Hasn't he told you what ails him?"

"Why, massa, taint worf while for to git mad bout de matter --Massa Will say noffin at all ain't de matter wid him --but den what make him go about looking dis here way, wid he head down and he soldiers up, and as white as a gose? And den he keep a syphon all de time --"

"Keeps a what, Jupiter?"

"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate --de queerest figgurs I ebber did see. Ise gittin to be skeered, I tell you. Hab for to keep mighty tight eye pon him noovers. Todder day he gib me slip fore de sun up and was gone de whole ob de blessed day. I had a big stick ready cut for to gib him d--d good beating when he did come --but Ise sich a fool dat I hadn't de heart arter all --he look so berry poorly."

"Eh? --what? --ah yes! --upon the whole I think you had better not be too severe with the poor fellow --don't flog him, Jupiter --he can't very well stand it --but can you form no idea of what has occasioned this illness, or rather this change of conduct? Has anything unpleasant happened since I saw you?"

"No, massa, dey ain't bin noffin onpleasant since den --'t was fore den I'm feared --'t was de berry day you was dare."

"How? what do you mean?"

"Why, massa, I mean de bug --dare now."

"The what?"

"De bug --I'm berry sartain dat Massa Will bin bit somewhere bout de head by dat goole-bug."

"And what cause have you, Jupiter, for such a supposition?"

"Claws enoff, massa, and mouff too. I nabber did see sich a d--d bug --he kick and he bite ebery ting what cum near him. Massa Will cotch him fuss, but had for to let him go gin mighty quick, I tell you --den was de time he must ha got de bite. I didn't like de look ob de bug mouff, myself, no how, so I wouldn't take hold ob him wid my finger, but I cotch him wid a piece ob paper dat I found. I rap him up in de paper and stuff piece ob it in he mouff --dat was de way."

"And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the beetle, and that the bite made him sick?"

"I don't tink noffin about it --I nose it. What make him dream bout de goole so much, if tain't cause he bit by de goole-bug? Ise heerd bout dem goole-bugs fore dis."

"But how do you know he dreams about gold?"

04 April, 2008


On CINEMADROME. Click on the link at the top of the sidebar on the left of the blog.

FANTASTIQUE: What is it? It spans the 19th, 20th and lives in the 21st Century. To me it's kind of a mixture of Surrealism, fantasy, science fiction and horror, more of a daydream than a nightmare. A difficult-to-define genre of novels, poems, paintings and cinema, which has always held a special appeal to me. I have started a Forum on which to discuss works which could possibly be in that mode.

Jean Rollin's films would certainly fall into that category as far as I'm concerned. I've initiated the Forum with a post concerning his most recent film, LA NUIT DES HORLOGES, which he presented at the recent L'ETRANGE Festival in Lyon, France, about which we did a previous blog and published the poster. I, for one, can't wait to see LA NUIT... and Rollin remains one of the world's most unique filmmakers.

There will be other Rollin films and other works of literary, graphic, and cinema-fantastique discussed there in the future. Please feel free to post comments about your favorite works in the realm of FANTASTIQUE.

Thanks to Fabien for granting us permission to use images and reprint his review from his blog and thanks to Tubbytoast for the Google translation. It may be awkward but it gives on a general idea of what to expect from this new Rollin film. Links to Fabien's marvelous French language BLACK CAT BONES blog where the original French text and many more images can be found.