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Halloween

Halloween

Compass International Pictures/Falcon International Pictures/Falcon International Productions, USA, 1978
AKA: John Carpenter’s Halloween/The Babysitter Murders
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews, John Michael Graham, Nancy Stephens, Arthur Malet, Mickey Yablans, Brent Le Page, Adam Hollander, Robert Phalen, Tony Moran, Will Sandin, Sandy Johnson, David Kyle, Peter Griffith, Nick Castle, Barry Bernardi, Joseph Cornelius, George O’Hanlon Jr., Darla Rae, Jennifer Rhodes, Gwen Van Dam, Tommy Lee Wallace

It’s Halloween night 1963 in Haddonfield, Illinois. 17 years old Judith Myers is supposed to look after her brother Michael, 6, but she has her boyfriend over and instead they go upstairs to have sex. When the boyfriend leaves Michael grabs a big knife from a kitchen drawer, puts on a clown mask, goes up to his naked sister and stabs her to death.

On october 30, the night before Halloween, there is a storm. Michael Myers escape from the mental institution in Smith’s Grove, where he has been locked up for fifteen years, by attacking a nurse and stealing her car. Dr. Samuel Loomis, who is Michaels psychiatrist, describes him as pure evil. Michael hasen’t said a word for fifteen years, only stared at the wall with empty eyes. Dr. Loomis is convinced Michael is going home to Haddonfield.

Next day, real estate agent Morgan Strode asks his daughter Laurie to drop off the keys to the Myers house under the doormat on her way to school. On her way Laurie runs into Tommy Doyle, whom she is babysitting that evening. He tells her not to go up to the Myers house. Something bad happened there a long time ago and the kids in town think it’s haunted. As she is leaving the keys we see the shape of someone inside the dark house watching her. In class Laurie sees a person in a white mask standing by a car. It appears he is watching her, but when she looks back he is gone.

As Tommy is leaving school he is being taunted by some bullies. They try to scare him by saying the Boogeyman is gonna get him. Tommy haven’t heard of the boogieman so he gets scared and confused. When the bullies take off one of them runs straight into Michael. Michael gets in the car and follows Tommy. Laurie walks home together with her friends Lynda and Annie. Annie is going to babysit Leslie just across the street from where Laurie will be babysitting Tommy. Lynda is seing her boyfriend but sais they might pop by sometime during the evening. Michael keeps stalking them, but Laurie is the only one who see him and the other girls make jokes about it.

Sheriff Brackett, who is also Annes father, is checking out a store break-in. He thinks it was probably some kids, since they only stole knives, ropes and some halloween masks. Dr. Loomis aproach him and tells him about Myers, how dangerous he is, and that he probably is in Haddonfield. Bracket is hesitant at first but agrees to go to the Myers house with Loomis. Somebody has obviously been in the house and they find a partially eaten dog. When they hear that somebody has stolen the tombstone of Judith Myers Dr. Loomis is sure it is Michael.

While babysitting Leslie, Annie gets a phone call from her boyfriend. He wants her to come and pick him up, so she leaves Leslie with Laurie and Tommy. Laurie and the kids are watching The Thing on TV (John Carpenter would direct a remake of this a couple of years later), and Tommy asks about the Boogeyman. Laurie is a little concerned when Annie never returns for Leslie but thinks she’s probably having sex with her boyfriend, and will show up later. Lynda and her boyfriend show up at the house where Annie is supposed to be, and when they find the house empty they decide to borrow the master bedroom. Dr. Loomis is staking out the Myers house and Michael is staking out Laurie and her friends.

Halloween wasn’t the first slasher film, but it became a genre model for later slasher films. I first saw it on the big screen and then it felt very new and original. Today 40 years later it doesn’t stand out in the same way, partly since horror has evolved but partly also since so many later films has reused so much of the ideas that set Halloween apart, that it has become mainstream. It’s still one of my all time favourites though. Bodycount is surprisingly low for a slasher: only 5 (+ one dog).

My verdict: 10 out of 10.

Delinquent Girl Boss: Tokyo Drifters

Delinquent Girl Boss: Tokyo Drifters

Toei Company, Japan, 1970
AKA: Zubekô banchô: Tôkyô nagaremono, Girl Vagrants of Tokyo
Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Writer: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, Norio Miyashita
Cast: Reiko Oshida, Yukie Kagawa, Masumi Tachibana, Tsunehiko Watase, Mieko Tsudoi, Tamami Natsu, Tōru Yuri, Akira Hitomi, Akira Ôizumi, Hachiro Azuma, Sanji Kojima, Kichijirô Ueda, Toshiaki Minami, Chikako Miyagi, Tonpei Hidari, Kôji Nanbara

This is the second Delinquent Girl Boss film about Rika. Last time we saw her, she and her girlfriends were in the back of a prison transport on their way to Akagi Girls School for juvenile delinquents. One of the girls is pregnant and management won’t let her see her boyfriend to discuss the situation, so Rika and the other girls riot and stages a mass escape. They get caught but their pregnant friend manages to get away, and that was the purpose of it anyway.

One year later Rika is released and works at a toyfactory. Just like in Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams she looses her job for not sleeping with her boss. She goes looking for a new job and is robbed by a pick pocket. A handsome street vendor interferes and she gets her money back. Then she runs into a man who offers her a job. He brings her to see his boss, Madame.

Madame is the head of the Gasetora clan. Once a big organisation of streetvendors, but since her son left only herself and the man who brought Rika there remains. Just as in the previous film it turns out Madame has been an inmate at the same facility Rika comes from, and soon Rikas friends start working as street vendors for Madame to. All except one, Senmitsu, who is working in a brothel.

Autumn festival is coming up and for some reason the Yakuza want to run the Gasetora clan out of business and take over their stalls at the festival. They threaten all the suppliers so the Gasetoras have nothing to sell, but Rika and her friends gets merchendise from the toyfactory where she used to work in exchange for not telling on the supervisor who tried to get her in bed. When there is business as usuall the Yakuza trashes their boots and there is a big fight. The handsome street vendor from earlier shows up and turns out to be Madames lost son Bon.

Senmitsu’s boyfriend has asked her to marry him, but he is a Yakuza and his boss wants 1.000.000 yen to let him go. Senmitsu works overtime to get the money but the Yakuza isn’t satisfied. They want her boyfriend to do one last job for them – to murder Madame. He sees no way out, but is tricked by his former friends and is killed to. Rika, Senmitsu and the four other girls from Akagi dresses up in long red coats and red hats and goes to take revenge on the Yakuza.

The last part of the film is a big swordfight between the girls and the Yakuza. Bon has learned about his mothers murder and turns up to help the girls and to kill the head of the Yakuza.

Delinquent Girl Boss: Tokyo Drifters feels more like a remake of the first one than a sequel. Except for the riot and mass escape in the beginning and the showdown with the Yakuza towards the end, the story is thin and a bit slow. It’s not as dark as the first one, but the swordfight at the end is much more violent and bloody than the showdown in the previous film. It’s not bad but not as good as the first one.

My verdict: 4 out of 10.

Tilt

Tilt

Ball & Chain Productions, ReKon Productions, USA, 2017
AKA:
Director: Kasra Farahani
Writer: Kasra Farahani, Jason O’Leary
Cast: Christian Calloway, Elijah Collins, Joseph Cross, Jessy Hodges, Billy Khoury, Kyle Koromaldi, C.S. Lee, Brian Leng, Ron Marasco, Rya Meyers, Shelley Mitchell, Alexia Rasmussen, Jade Sealey, Kelvin Yu, Junes Zahdi, Michael Zakhar, Keir Gilchrist, Logan Miller

Jack Torrance is a writer with writersblock. He pretends to be working but starts to slip into madnes. Sorry wrong film, but not really. Joseph Burns did a documentary about flipper games called Tilt which had some success and ever since, he has been working on his new film. It’s not really going anywhere and in reality he is unemployed and on his way into a depression. His wife Joanna is pregnant but her work as a nurse is what keeps them floating.

Joanna tries to use her connections to get Joseph a job, but he’s not really interested. He doesn’t seem very interested in the expected baby either. When he doesn’t get anywhere with his film, he takes to roam the streets at night showing more and more psychotic signs. Obviously he is heading for disaster.

Tilt basicly is Shining except for the suroundings. Instead of an isolated Hotel we’re in the middle of the city. Joseph Cross even looks a bit like a young Jack Nicholson, but unfortunately Farahani is no Kubrik. Acting is fine and execution of the film is OK. The story is boring and predictable though.

My verdict: 3 out of 10.

The Ninth Configuration

The Ninth Configuration

Ninth Configuration, USA, 1980
AKA: Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane
Director: William Peter Blatty
Writer: William Peter Blatty
Cast: Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Neville Brand, George DiCenzo, Moses Gunn, Robert Loggia, Joe Spinell, Alejandro Rey, Tom Atkins, Steve Sandor, Richard Lynch, Gordon Mark, William Lucking, Stephen Powers, David Healy, William Paul, Tom Shaw, Gordon K. Kee, Bruce Boa, Linda Blatty, Hobby Gilman, Marilyn Raymon, Bobby Bass, Billy Blatty, William Peter Blatty, Tim Rossovich

“Towards the end of the war in Vietnam an unusually high percentage of american servicemen suddenly manifested symptoms of psychosis. Most of them was in combat and had no prior history of mental disturbance. These facts plus the epidemic scope of the problem and the controversial nature of the vietnam war led american authorities to wonder wether many if not most of the men, were faking. To probe the mystery, the government established a network of secret study centres and clinics. The last of these No. 18 was highly experimental in nature set up in an old abandoned castle in Pacific NorthWest in United States.”

Psychiatrist Colonel Kane of the United States Marine Corps arrive at the castle to take command. The place is chaotic with one inmate weirder than another. One of them is trying to stage classic plays by Shakespear but with dogs as actors. Problem is he only has one dog. Another one thinks he’s superman and wears his superman outfit most of the time. Upon arrival Kane is greeted by a doctor who turn out to be an inmate who has stolen the real doctors clothes.

Among the inmates is Billy Cutshaw. He was an astronaut but ruined a spacemission when he suddenly went mad and refused to enter the spaceship. When asked why later in the movie he admits he was scared and panicked. He never say why he got scared, but prior to the mission he was a guest at a party at actress Chris McNeil’s house when Chris’ 12 years old daughter Regan suddenly tells him “You’re gonna die up there” before urinating on the carpet. This of course happened in The Exorcist which preceded this film, but Regans statement was what scared Cutshaw to abort the spacemission.

At one point Cutshaw sais he suspect Kane of being crazy, since psychiatrists often go crazy and have the highest suicide rate of any profession. Kane has recuring nightmares about the war, and himself holding the decapitated head of a young boy in his hands. When asked about the nightmares he claims they belonged to his brother “Killer Kane” who was a violent murderer personally responsible for killing hundreds of people in the war. He is dead now but by telling his brother about the dreams he passed them on to him.

After a discussion about wether Hamlet is mad or in fact saves himself from going mad by pretending to be, Kane tries a new aproach by letting the inmates indulge in their madness instead of trying to repress it. This seem to have a slightly positive effect.

Cutshaw and Kane have several discussions about faith, religion and wether there is a meaning to life or not. At one point he makes Kane promise to if posible give him a sign should he die first. One day Cutshaw escapes and goes to a bar. He gets recognised by a biker gang who harass and assault him. Kane goes after him but he to ends up being assaulted by the bikers. He tries to reason with them but to no good and eventually he snaps.

On the surface The Ninth Configuration might look like crazy people doing crazy stuff while other crazy people tries to cure them, but when You get into the story it’s really a thriller. A lot of the conversations between Kane and the inmates are deep and cover universal questions. Even if it has very little to do with The Exorcist it is obvious it’s sort of a sequel. You can se similar thoughts being the foundation once You scrape of all the icing. Apart from flashbacks to the war and Cutshaw and Kanes run in with the biker gang there isn’t very much violence, but The Ninth Configuration is more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie.

My verdict: 9 out of 10.

The Night Visitor

The Night Visitor

Hemisphere Pictures, Glazier, USA, Sweden, Panama, 1971
AKA: Lunatic, Salem Come to Supper
Director: Laslo Benedek
Writer: Guy Elmes, Samuel Roeca
Cast: Max von Sydow, Trevor Howard, Liv Ullmann, Per Oscarsson, Rupert Davies, Andrew Keir, Jim Kennedy, Arthur Hewlett, Hanne Bork, Gretchen Franklin, Bjørn Watt-Boolsen, Lotte Freddie, Erik Kühnau

Salem is in an asylum for the criminally insane, convicted of the axemurder of a farmhand. He claims he is innocent, that he was framed by his sister and her husband, and that he was misrepresented by his lawyer. At the trial his lawer changed the plea from not guilty to guilty by reason of insanity at the last minute, and thus getting Salem off jail but still locked away.

Two years after the trial things start to get weird at the farm where his two sisters, Emmie and Ester, and his brother in law, Dr. Anton Jenks, still live. There is some tension between the sisters as Anton and Ester wants to sell the family farm, while Emmie refuses. Ester and Anton owns one third and also controls Salems part, but Emmie still owns one third so they can’t really do anything unless they can make her change her mind, or if she would die and leave her part to Ester.

Dr. Jenks get called away to a house nearby where the daughter has been found dead in her bed. He can see she has ben strangled and when he opens his bag there are hypodermic needles and sedatives missing but for some reason they have been exchanged for several of his own ties. He suspect his wife for this and confront her when he gets back home. Their parrot drives him mad by repeating “Hit him Anton” over and over but when he throws the cage to the floor the parrot gets loose.

Anton claims he saw Salem standing in a closet when chasing the parrot. He believes Salem somehow has found a way to sneak out from the asylum at night and then sneak back in again. Maybe to get revenge and hurt the people responsible for putting him there in the first place. Ester doesn’t know what to believe and starts to doubt she can trust her husbands sanity.

Salem is a skilled chess player, and at the asylum he plays with one of the wardens. In The Seventh Seal Max von Sydow portraits a knight who plays chess with Death. The Seventh Seal was of course directed by Ingmar Bergman who is the father of Liv Ullmans daughter Linn. In Troell’s The Emigrants and The New Land von Sydow and Ullman plays husband and wife. To americans von Sydow is probably most known as Father Merrin from The Exorcist. He never played chess with the Devil though.

The Night Visitor is a straight forward told story, even if there is some sort of twist a la Edgar Allan Poe at the end. There is also a lot of Max von Sydow running in the snow in his underwear.

My verdict: 6 out of 10.

The Heretics

The Heretics

Black Fawn Films, Breakthrough Entertainment, Canada, 2017
AKA:
Director: Chad Archibald
Writer: Chad Archibald, Jayme Laforest
Cast: Nina Kiri, Ry Barrett, Jorja Cadence, Will King, Nina Richmond, Austin Duffy, Sid McMillan, Colin Price, Alex Loubert, Julie C. Sheppard, Caleigh Le Grand, Anna Jane Edmonds, Meagan Pringle, Emma Waterfield, Colleen Kelly, Lori Fleming, Julie Docherty, Bailey Mackay, C.F. Benner, Karen Scobie, Jason T. Green, Connor N. Green, Justin Reu, Christopher Giroux, Melanie Turner, Jeffrey Wolf, Sephera Giron, Carol Harrington, Heather Manderiuer, James Roque, Michael Wurtz, Vincent Masson, Bria Rudma, Mickey McMurran, Ty Phoenix, Jay Maxxon, Justin Alexis, Ryan Smart, Jay Stephens, Jamie Kiff, Vincent Moskowec, Sam Hunter, Shardath Maharaj, Blair Scriven, Brendan O’Halloron, Luke Meneok, John Migliore, Deborah Jayne Reilly Smith, Penny Rothwell, Codey Huber, Tim Sheridan, Sharon Tanti, Gina Simone, Shanina Ensing, Jordan Morrison, Lynne McIntee. Louise Nevin, Mike Galinas, Kelly Michael Stewart, Jen Gorman, Rachel Sellan, Jessie Giroux, Joel Edmiston

Five years ago, Gloria, was tied to an altar by a weird cult dressed in robes and wooden masks. They were chanting in a foreign language, before they all produced sacrificial knives. Instead of stabbing Gloria they all slit their own throats and she awoke the next morning drencht in their blood on a pile of dead bodies.

She now lives with her mother and has recuring nightmares about what happened that night. She goes to a support group, where she has met Joan, who is her girlfriend since a year back. Both Gloria and Joan helps out in a soupkitchen run by their lokal church.

One night after spending the evening in Joans bed, Gloria is kidnapped outside her mothers house. A stranger chain her to the floor of a vehicle and takes her to a desolate cabin in the woods where he chain her to the wall. He claims to have been present five years ago but survived the cults mass suicide. There are other survivors and he is trying to save Gloria from them. According to him the cult did something to her five years ago and she has been monitored ever since. Tonight is the night they have to finish what they started, but if he can keep her alive until sunrise, she will be useless to them and they will leave her alone.

Gloria doesn’t know whether to believe the man or not. Is he going to kill her or is he trying to save her, and what if he has to kill her to save her? Meanwhile her mother has called the police, and Joan who thinks the police isn’t looking hard enough has organised her own search party enlisting friends from the church.

In the cabin, Gloria is becoming seriously ill. She begs her captor to take her to a doctor, but he refuses since it’s not safe. They both starts to halucinate. Can he be trusted, will Joan or the cultists find them first, and will Gloria survive the night?

I liked The Heretics. To be honest there isn’t very much happening actionwise, but the story unfolds mostly by characters talking to each other. Half the time Gloria is chained to a cabin wall, but even so it never bored me. There are some twists to the story, and unfortunately some of them were pretty obvious from the start, but over all The Heretics was one of the better horror films I’ve seen lately.

My verdict: 8 out of 10.

Lake Placid 2

Lake Placid 2

Asgaard Branding, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Unified Film Organization (UFO), USA, 2007
AKA:
Director: David Flores
Writer: Todd Hurvitz, Howie Miller
Cast: John Schneider, Sarah Lafleur, Sam McMurray, Chad Michael Collins, Alicia Ziegler, Joe Holt, Ian Reed Kesler, Justin Urich, Cloris Leachman, VJ Kewl, Robert Blush, Jonas Talkington, Terence H. Winkless, Michael McCoy, Andrea Enright, Zhasmina Toskova, Vlado Mihailov, Yana Marinova

I did like the original Lake Placid but didn’t have too high hopes for this sequel. None of the original cast returns (unless You count a black and white photo of Betty White) and it’s made straight for TV. This usually means “not very good, or at least worse than the original”.

Anyway, eight years has passed since they shiped off the giant crocodile and everyone seems to have forgotten all about it. Maybe the authoritys covered it up somehow or maybe people just don’t watch the news anymore. There’s a new sheriff in town. He has a weird haircut and doesn’t belive in any crocodiles in his lake, so when a researcher tells him his partner was killed by something in the lake while they were getting watersamples, his first guess is he had to much to smoke and forgot he was alone on the lake. When shown the arm and the leg that remains of the researcher, his second guess is a mountainlion or a bear. I’m no wild life expert, but I’d guess it’s not very common for either mountainlions or bears to attack people in boats on deep water.

Fish and Wildlife sends Emma to help with the investigation. She and Sheriff Riley has a history of dating which didn’t lead to anything but there is chemistry… Sheriff Riley’s son, Scott, who lives in Boston but is here for the summer finds chemistry to with Kerri. She has a boyfriend but Scott is invited to go to the lake with them and their friends.

Riley, Emma and the researcher, Frank, goes out in a boat, finds Franks friends head, and goes talking to “Crazy Sadie”. Sadie Bickerman is the sister of Delores Bickerman who fed the original crocodile live cattle and as those of us who’s seen the first film, cuddeled little baby crocs. She went missing one day and was never found, and her sister moved into her cottage.

Three bulgarians arrives at a beach. The two girls gets in the water topless splashing water at each other and playing around. The boy turns around changeing into swim trunks and when he turn back their gone. He goes into the water shouting for them and then they’re crocfood all three of them. As far as I know none of them has any connection to anyone else in the story so probably they’re just filling material. Someone probably wanted som T&A in the film and somebody else wanted more victims so they put the bulgarians in there as shreddies to cater for those needs.

Mirroring Hector Cyr’s arrival by helicopter in the first film, Struthers and his handyman/personal slave Ahmad arrive in an airplaine. Struthers is an arrogant egomaniac of a big game hunter hungry for some crocodile hunting. After Ahmad manages to kill the croc everyone relaxes but then their camp is attacked by enother one. Riley finds out his son is camping by the lake and sets out to find him. The y have allready been attacked but he takes the survivors to Crazy Sadie’s place. Crazy Sadie admits that her sister raised three children of the first crocodile and that she has been taking care of them since her sisters disappearance. She promises to take care of the kids while Riley hunts down the rest of the crocodiles, but can she be trusted?

There are lots of terribly bad CGI in Lake Placid 2. The crocs could have been better, but weirdest is Struthers airplane that lands on the water and when the camera zooms out it’s gone again. People to are acting strange. In the beginning Emma allmost faints when she sees the bit off leg of the first victim, and she states “Always had a weak stomach for blood” yet she gladly dives in the water from the boat to retrieve the same victims head. Sheriff Riley shows signs of psychopathy joking and cracking oneliners as people around him get killed by the crocs. Struthers is an asshole but he’s supposed to be one. Riley is supposed to be the hero. How is Struthers while up in his plane able to talk to Riley and Ahmad on the boat, when they neither wear headsets or have handheld radios? Despite all it’s flaws I liked it better than I expected to. It’s bad but it’s not that bad, if You know what I mean.

My verdict: 4 out of 10.

Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams

Delinquent Girl Boss

Toei Company, Japan, 1970
AKA: Zubekô banchô: Yume wa yoru hiraku/Blossoming Night Dreams/Tokyo Bad Girls
Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Writer: Norio Miyashita, Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Cast: Reiko Oshida, Masumi Tachibana, Yukie Kagawa, Keiko Fuji, Hayato Tani, Saburô Bôya, Bokuzen Hidari, Tonpei Hidari, Nobuo Kaneko, Toshiaki Minami, Junko Miyazono, Junko Natsu, Harumi Sone, Kayako Sono, Yasushi Suzuki, Tatsuo Umemiya

Juvenile delinquent Rika is released from prison and has decided to live an ordinary life within the law. She gets a job at a drycleaner, but things don’t work out so well. The owner is trying hard to get into bed with her and his wife hates her and accuses her of stealing. She leaves to look for some other job but runs in to a pack of girls that attack her. She beats them up and meets a guy who claims he can get her a job in the bar where he works. It turns out some of her girlfriends from jail is already working there and the owner too is a former juvenile delinquent and has done time in the same prison.

Mr. Ohba, a local Yakuza leader wants to take over the bar and has offered to buy it on several ocasions. Problem is he won’t take no for an answer, and he is prepared to do whatever nesesary to get it. One of Rikas friends who work at the bar has a little sister who is a drugaddict. She gets her drugs from the same female gang Rika beat up earlier, and to complicate things further they are selling for Mr. Ohba.

For a Pinku Violence this film is pretty tame both on violence and nudity compared to later films. There are however a lot of catfights and there is a veritable massacre at the end when the girls decides to stand up against the Yakuza and they go at each other with swords and knives.

My verdict: 5 out of 10.

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The Ninth Gate

The Ninth Gate

Artisan Entertainment/R.P. Productions/Orly Films/TF1 Films Production/Bac Films/Canal+/Kino Vision/Origen Producciones Cinematograficas S.A./Vía Digital/Canal+ España, France/Spain/USA, 1999
AKA:
Director: Roman Polanski
Writer: Arturo Pérez-Reverte, John Brownjohn, Enrique Urbizu, Roman Polanski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner, Barbara Jefford, Jack Taylor, José López Rodero, Tony Amoni, James Russo, Willy Holt, Allen Garfield, Jacques Dacqmine, Joe Sheridan, Rebecca Pauly, Catherine Benguigui, Maria Ducceschi, Jacques Collard, Dominique Pozzetto, Emanuel Booz, Lino Ribeiro de Sousa, Asil Raïs, Bernard Richier, Marinette Richier, Jane Bradbury, Samuel de Luze, Christopher Goodman, Diane Hawkins, Lee Michelsen, Diane Pernet, Jacquelyn Toman

I don’t remember exactly when I by chance stumbled upon Arturo Pérez-Revertes book El Club Dumas, but I was amazed by it. I couldn’t put it down but had to drop everything else and finish it. I grew up before the Internet, before VHS, width only one (and later two) channels on TV, so books was the only possible escape from reality. Therefore Corso’s world was my world to. I knew all those books by heart and got all the references. I tried to get my 25 years younger girlfriend to read it but she didn’t get it at all. She never read The Three Musketeers or Sherlock Holmes so on her the magic was lost.

When I heard El Club Dumas was being filmed, directed by Roman Polanski who is one of my favourite directors, and starring Johny Depp… What can I say about Johnny Depp? Well, I named my son after one of his characters, so I guess You understand I had great expectations on this film to say the least. Media made a big thing out of Polanski returning to satanism 50 years after Rosemary’s Baby.

Dean Corso is an expert on rare books and how to find them. One of his clients, Boris Balkan, who has the worlds biggest collection of books on Satan has got his hands on the very rare “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of the Shadows” from 1666 by Torchia, who was burned alive by the Holy Inquisition along with all his writings. Only three copies still exist, but Balkan claims two of these are forgerys and he want Corso to find out if his copy is the authentic one or not, and if it’s not he wants him to do whatever he has to, at whatever the cost, to get the one that is for him. In this book is a number of engravings. Torchia was supposed to have gotten these engravings from Satan himself and according to the myth they form a puzzle which if solved reveils how to conjure the Devil. Balkan got the book from a collector who hung himself just a couple of days later. The other two copies is in Portugal and France, and Corso takes the book with him for comparising.

The book is wort somewhere around a million dollars and Corso is getting paranoid. He believes someone is following him, this weird girl with socks that don’t match is turning up where ever he goes, his appartment gets broken into and Liana Telfer, the widow of the person Balkan bought the book from, tries to buy it back from Corso and even suggests he could stage a robbery and keep the money for himself. When he refuses she attacks him. He left the book whith a friend who turns up murdered, but whoever did it didn’t find the book.

In Europe Corso discovers slight differencies between Balkans book and the other two. The girl seems to have followed him as she keeps turning up, and there are several near accidents which could be attempts to kill or scare Corso to part with the book. Corso learns that when Torchia was burnt a secret order was formed to preserv the book from the church. This order still exists even if it has somehow degenerated into a social club for bored millionaires and celebreties staging orgys. He also learns that Liana Telfer is a member.

Both owners of the other two copies turn up dead, their books gone, and Balkans copy is stolen. Corso suspects Liana Telfer is behind it all and goes after her to try to get Balkans book back.

So, when I first got to watch the film I was actually a bit disapointed. It wasn’t the fantastic story Arturo Pérez-Reverte had penned. It was only part of the book, and a lot of the names and charachters was changed and simplified. Also the last part was all changed and didn’t really have very much to do with El Club Dumas at all. Pérez-Reverte has said “Polanski’s film isn’t bad, except maybe the last half hour. Evidently it is not my novel.” and that about sums up my feellings. As long as You don’t compare it to the novel the movie is actually very good. I’ve watched it quite a few times and everytime it seems to grow on me.

My verdict: 10 out of 10.

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