Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Histoires Extraordinaires....

AKA "Spirits of the Dead" AKA "Better enjoyed if stoned." "Histoires Extraordinaires" is another AIP "omnibus" film from 1968 when everything was really groovy and Jane Fonda didn't wear pants. Directors Roger Vadim (crazy,) Louis Malle (how did he get mixed up in this fuckery?) and Federico Fellini (more crazy) put their stamp on three tales by Edgar Allan Poe. Vadim does "Metzengerstein" and films it like a medieval prequel to "Barbarella." Jane Fonda stars as Countess Federica, a debauched heiress who lives only for pleasure and cruelty (so far so good.) She gets the hots for her Cousin (played by Brother Peter Fonda... eww!) and when he rebuffs her she sets fire to his stables, accidentally killing him in the process. She then gets unnaturally close to a horse and continues to go around pant less. Now, I have not read "Metzengerstein," (it is sitting next to the computer, I am getting to it, I swear,) but I can bet good money that this was not the vision Poe had in mind. But what the hell do I know. Maybe that story is about a chick who walks around without pants on and has orgies and takes baths with other women. Who knows. Don't let that description make you think this part of the film is any good. Its not.

The next sequence, by Malle, is "William Wilson," which, of all three segments, sticks pretty closely to the original story. "William Wilson" is one of my favorite Poe tales, and this sequence is my favorite from the film (although critics at the time seem to think it was boring. It has nudity, come on!) Alain Delon stars as Wilson, another debauched youth who is being haunted by a do-good er doppelganger (I love made up words.) Bridget Bardot co-stars as a women he tries to swindle.
The final sequence, by Fellini, is entitled "Toby Dammit" and it is VERY loosely based on "Never Bet the Devil Your Head." This short flick is so trippy I just watched it with my jaw hanging open. Terence Stamp stars as a 1960s Lindsey Lohan type but with talent. He agrees to star in a film about the life of Jesus Christ, re imagined as a Western. Half-mad and alcoholic, Dammit starts seeing visions of a young girl dressed in white bouncing a ball. The young girl, it turns out, is the Devil come to claim Dammit. In between is a lot of Fellini-esque nonsense, which is both hysterical and ridiculous. This part was my least favorite, but critics at the time LOVED it. It was even released on its own and called a "lost" Fellini masterpiece.
I am taking a break from "omnibus" films for a while. I just got "Dexter" Season Three and that will be occupying all of my valuable time. Keeping fingers crossed for expected "Inglorious Basterds" awesomeness this weekend.


Shoshanah Marohn said...

When we first got rid of the TV, I used to read the TV show reviews in ISTHMUS and feel fulfilled, like I didn't have to worry because I wasn't missing anything.

Now I read your blog, because you know that if I really had a TV these days, I wouldn't be watching actual TV shows but horrible old so-bad-it's-good crap like this! Keep up the good work! We're depending on you! no pressure, no pressure, of course.

Jen said...

I am happy to watch this crap so you don't have too! I promise to keep bringing you fresh crap as long as I can (that doesn't sound right.)