Friday, February 1, 2019

devil may care.

Been busy finishing up a massive arts project at the moment as well as my annual Frightfest illo's so not had much time to watch anything of note recently.


Except this.


Was searching in the cupboard for a pack of Sharpies I'd recently purchased when this felt out so thought I'd give it a shot.

I never learn.

Devil Story (1985).
Dir: Bernard Launois.
Cast: Véronique Renaud, Marcel Portier, Catherine Day, Nicole Desailly, Pascal Simon and a horse.

Tho' to be honest none of this matters seeing as none of them ever worked again outside the fast food industry.


'Screw that Mummy.... what I want is that goddamn horse!'



They say that you should always start as you mean to go on and the folk in charge here seem to agree seeing as the entire first 10 minutes of the movie seems to be made up of nothing but some poor bloke (Simon in his only film role) clad in a comedy tramp mask from the pound shop, his sister's jodhpurs and an old SS jacket bombing around a kids play park pretending to stab people.

Seriously it's like a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham.

Only without the overbearing stench of fish obviously.

Firstly stabbing a man in a tent before stalking his unfortunate companion - who is busy skipping thru' the woods carrying a pile of wood, a pile of wood which it must be said will scarily give the best performance in the whole film - and then slashing her (admittedly harsh) face in a masterstroke of make-up effects which involves her being attacked with her back to the camera before clumsily turning around to reveal bloody make-up that had already been applied.

By a hook handed child.

Who is also legally blind.

Viewers of a nervous disposition (or with any taste) should turn off now tho' as the killing spree has only just begun as in a scene of bizarro fourth wall breaking bonkers who should turn up but the director himself accompanied by what I assume is his mum out for a leisurely drive in the country.

Unfortunately the fun is cut short when the car runs out of petrol meaning that the esteemed Mr Launois has to walk back to the nearest garage whilst grumpily shouting at his poor mother.

With all this ranting and raving going on he spectacularly fails to see wee Jimmy Baw-heid crouching behind a roadside statue waiting to pounce.

Just as our dumpy director is walking by Jimmy jumps out and starts growling whilst waving his arms about.

With a look of total disinterest Launois calmly asks him the way to the garage.

As you would when confronted by a gurning loon in a Nazi uniform.

You can guess what happens next.

Yup, Jimmy stabs the man before stomping off and shooting Mrs Launois in the face.

And if that's not Brexit in a nutshell I don't know what is.



"Laugh now!"




Anyway, with all those random killings out of the way - filmed it seems because when reviewing a first edit of the movie Launois realized he had less than an hour's worth of usable footage so got his pals together to shoot a whole new opening sequence - it's into the plot good and proper as we're introduced to some vacuous guy and his - even more vacuous - wife who are currently enjoying a nice drive in the country.

As far as I remember - to be honest by this point I was drunk - neither of them have names tho' I've since found out that Mrs Vacuous  (let's call her Brenda) is portrayed by the toothsome Véronique Renaud who was cast solely on the fact that she supplied her own Cammie knickers for the role.

Take from that what you will.

Unfortunately their enjoyment is cut short - unlike ours which never started - when the car suffers a - strangely invisible - puncture so whilst the by now grumpy man tries to fix it Brenda wanders off into the woods, summoned by a black cat with bizarre psychic powers and the ability to make badly animated lightning appear on screen.

No really.

Toothsome....or French as we say around here.



But that's not all it can do for as it mysteriously makes what looks like slivers of  piss streak across the screen the beast attacks Brenda scratching her hands a wee bit and - being a woman - Brenda starts screaming for her hubbie before blaming him for her predicament.

But as he - uncomfortably - hugs her she gazes at her hands again, realising that the scratches were imaginary.

And with this, the poor put upon hubbie decides to call it a day and find a local hotel where hopefully he can get some peace from his mad missis.

Now sooner has day turned to night when they pull up outside an enormous Gothic castle* that, just to show how foreboding it actually is, is blasting Bach's Toccata in d-minor out of the windows.

Hurrying inside the couple are greeted by the owners - a hunting knife obsessed old fat man cradling a shotgun and his pie-obsessed wife who bizarrely seems to have a tray of booze permanently stuck to her hand.

It's like staying at your nan and granddads as a kid.

But without the late night bedroom visits and forced buggery obviously.


Pants.



As the foursome sit and sip wine the old lady begins to tell a spooky  local legend of days gone by and how during/before/after the equinox (take your pick) shit happens.

And as if by magic and to prove a point a horse suddenly gallops passed.

It seems that years ago a local tinker family used to lure passing ships to their doom with false signal fires on shore before stealing their cargo.

But one night when attempting to scupper a passing English ship (carrying a cargo of antiquities from Egypt (see? We used to trade with the world) a huge earthquake squashed the ship flat into the rocks and the family with it.

Yup, sounds legit.

Anyway it appears that three descendants of the family are still alive and reside in the village but because of their past crimes have been afflicted with a terrible curse.

And no, being French doesn't count as a curse.

Yet.

There's an old woman whom everyone thinks is a witch, her daughter that noone has ever seen and her son who is described as being an inbred monster with a massive head.

Can you guess who that is?

"I'm from Dudley!"




Obviously all this talk of terrible deaths and huge heads has an upsetting effect on Brenda who retires to bed only to be kept awake by the constant tip-tapping of hooves from the horse who is still wandering about in the hotel car park leaving her only one option - to head outside in a flimsy nightie and a pair of bright yellow wellies and matching raincoat.

I'll give the film it's due tho' this is quite possibly one of the most erotic things I've ever seen on celluloid.

And that includes your kids birth video.

No sooner has she tiptoed outside tho' when she's roughly pushed aside by the old man who, after years of torment has decided that tonight's the night that he's going to shoot the horse and with a cry of  "I hate that duck!" runs out into the night.

And straight past the horse.

Obviously Brenda decides to go out after him.

Which would probably be OK if not for the fact that it appears she's suddenly shit scared of horses so as soon as she spots our four legged friend she starts to scream before running to her husbands car and driving away.

Leaving her husband stranded alone and asleep in a strange place.

What a lovely lady.

Unfortunately - for her that is, as a viewer I'm just happy something is finally happening tho' it's a pity that the film is so dark you can only guess as to what that is -  the scary horse seems capable of randomly teleporting places and suddenly appears in front of the car forcing our heroine to abandon it and run into the woods in the hope of something - anything - of note happening.

"Chase me now!"



 After interminable shots of the old man swearing whilst taking pot shots at out-takes from the title sequence to Black Beauty intercut with scenes of Brenda stumbling thru' bushes in various states of focus she soon - but not soon enough - bumps into the beast boy and his mum who appear to be pushing an apple cart around whilst tabbing on duty fee fags and discussing his recently dead sibling/her dead daughter.

Which kinda explains why no fucker has seen her of late.

Paying too much attention to the chat and not enough to where she's standing Brenda trips and falls into an open grave where she's soon spotted by the bad boy.

He doesn't kill her tho' as remarkably it turns out that Brenda is the spitting image of his dead sister.

Which isn't too surprising seeing she's also played by Renaud, only this time in a really shit wig.


Entranced by the resemblance he just sits and pokes her with a stick but his mother has other ideas, insisting that Brenda has no right to live if her daughter has died, so orders her son to bury Brenda alive.

Luckily the horse appears and kicks the son in the face giving Brenda ample time to escape and the viewer a chance to go for a piss safe in the knowledge that absolutely fuck all of note is actually going to happen.

Scarily at the very same time the horse is also still taunting the old bloke with the gun.

Ghost horse?

Twins?

Or just shite plotting?

You decide.



"You ain't seen me right?"


Just as the sheer ineptitude of the plotting feels like it's about to crush everything and everyone around it the film takes a bizarre turn as suddenly and without warning a nearby cliff face collapses exposing not only the missing British ship but also a mummy clad in an old body stocking and a gimp mask who totters off toward the graveyard and vomits in the dead sisters (albeit very pretty) mouth and brings her back to life before taking her hand a going for a walk.

And with that the scene is set for a confrontation of epic proportions 'tween a mummy, a spooky horse and an old man with a gun driven mad by the lack of a good nights sleep.

Tho' not between the mummy and mental boy tho' as they're played by the same actor.

Suffice to say that Brenda's night is about to get much worse....

...And one that doesn't involve Cécile Fournier.




Bloody hell that was rough.

Fuck only knows what Bernard Launois was injecting when he decided to make this movie but hopefully it's been totally banned under the UN human rights act by now, tho' it'd be nice to know exactly what he was thinking when he decided to throw away his fairly lucrative bit part career with Eurocine Films to try his hand at directing.

As an 'actor' he'd appeared briefly in 'Pigalle Crossways of Illusions', 'Racket on Pleasure' and the Rosalba Neri shagathon '2 Males for Alexa' but by the Eighties Launois was bitten - tho' more likely mercilessly buggered - by the directing bug, which after a few piss-poor comedies culminated with Devil Story.

Thanks for that Bernard.

Coming across like the painful results of an almost soulless scientific study into the equations of what makes a bad movie, Devil Story is badly shot, underwritten to a point of absurdity and cheaper than your mum with the added bonus of being shot thru' gauze on cracked lenses by a drunk blind man that manages to even  make scenes of a nubile French lass running around in her undies appear underwhelming and unappealing.

Or perhaps that's the point and Launois is in fact a cinematic genius who's actually intentionally fucking with our preconceptions of what constitutes a good film.

"Look over there! That's how many fucks I give!"




Only joshing, it's just shit.































































*In reality the famous Palais Bénédictine - a Gothic/renaissance venue built by Benedictine liqueur's founder, Ted Bénédictine and designed by Camille Albert and very pretty it is too.


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