#261 Simon of the Desert

Watched: February 23 2019

Director: Luis Buñuel

Starring: Claudio Brook, Silvia Pinal, Enrique Álvarez Félix, Hortensia Santoveña

Year: 1965

Runtime: 43 min

As attentive readers may have noticed, we have now skipped a few numbers. That is because Edgar has recently edited the list and added a few more movies to the earlier years. Hopefully, we’ll get around to watching them and adding them as soon as the Corona crisis is over. However, for now the library is closed and we just have to work with what we have. That also means that we might have to skip a few upcoming movies as well since we can’t get our grabby (and quite possibly infected) hands on them. Not to worry though – we’ll make up for it as soon as we can. For now, were just happy that the Norwegian government are taking precautions and doing their best to keep us all safe.

simon

Source

Disclaimer done, now on to the good stuff! Simon of the Desert is a weird one, which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody considering Buñuel’s earlier works. Basically, Simon (Brook) is super pious. Like, really incredibly pious. And humble. Let’s not forget it. In fact, he’s so pious and humble that he disowns his own mother (Santoveña) because he needs to concentrate on God and being pious and humble.

simon2
“Bar none I am the most humblest. Number one at the top of the humble list.”

Source

Still, you can’t walk around being as humble as Simon without drawing the attention of the devil him/herself (Pinal). Once you set yourself on a literal pedestal as the best person in the world, Satan will want to get in on this action and prove you wrong. But who will win? The fallen angel or the oh so pious man?

simon3
“Don’t judge me. I was going through an identity crisis when this was filmed, wanting to be Jesus and stuff. So embarrassing now…”

Source

This was amazing. We loved the skipping brother Matthew/Matías (Félix), the inner monologue, the mix of time periods, the incredibly unsubtle Satan, and the coffin. Don’t ask. The film looks beautiful and some of the close-ups reminded us a lot of the gorgeous The Passion of Joan of Arc.

simon4
Also, very topically, Simon practised social distancing before it was cool. Well done, Simon! You’re doing your part!

Source

Besides taking one for the team by socially distancing himself from everyone though, Simon’s pursuit of holiness and divinity seems extremely selfish and self-indulgent. He’s not really trying to save the world or anything, just himself. That being said, he does perform miracles which the villagers surrounding him take for granted so maybe he was just fed up with not being appreciated. At least Satan gave him something to focus on – Pinal is very entertaining and a lot more interesting than Simon. But then again, that is always the case, isn’t it?

simon5
Seriously – who would you rather party with?

Source

What we learned: Get thee behind me Satan! And keep your distance – we’re trying not to get infected here.

Next time: The 10th Victim (1965)

#243 The Masque of the Red Death

Watched: October 19 2019

Director: Roger Corman

Starring: Vincent Price, Hazel Court, Jane Asher, David Weston, Patrick Magee (double feature night with Seance – we had a Magevening!), Nigel Green, Skip Martin

Year: 1964

Runtime: 1h 29min

death

Source

An old woman is given a rose by a red-cloaked figure and all hell breaks loose.

masque3
“She loves me, she loves me not…”

Source

Prince Prospero (Price) is a villain and a tyrant. And a satanist. After the Red Death appears in the village providing for his castle, he burns it to the ground with the exception of three villagers. Francesca (Asher), her father Ludovico (Green) and her betrothed Gino (Weston) are taken to the castle to provide entertainment.

masque7
“No, what I’m saying is I’ll never win an axe throwing competition in this corset!”

Source

Prospero throws decadent parties for his rich friends to distract from the plague ravaging the outside world. He enjoys humiliating and mocking his guests, but as they seem to have little in the way of dignity, they tend not to mind.

masque4
“See? I knew that corset wouldn’t hold her back!” “I’d still prefer if she took it off…”

Source

The prince is into some dark shit though, and his new goal quickly becomes to turn the Christian Francesca to his own faith. His wife (?) Juliana (Court) senses competition and decides to go all in with the whole Satan-thing to please her man. But will their close, personal relationship with the Devil save them from the looming threat outside?

masque5
“Oh ordlay, ivethgay usway ouryay essingsblay. Amen-ay!”

Source

Another Poe, Price and Corman collaboration, and we’re living for it. Vincent Price is his usual fabulous self, and we loved the colours, the clothes, the sets and the story.

masque6
“My interior decorator was going through a symbolic phase.”

Source

The start was almost Bergmany with Death hanging around playing cards, and in the end it comes full circle with a bunch of colour-coded Deaths (Illnesses? Plagues?) marching away in a conga line of doom.

masque2
“Day-o! Daylight come and me wan’ go home!”

Source

An excellent Halloween movie and wonderful entertainment all around, The Masque of the Red Death is everything you would expect and more. Love, love, love this.

What we learned: Don’t sell your soul to Satan over a guy. Do it for yourself!

Next time: The Naked Kiss (1964)

#188 Black Sunday

Watched: July 19 2018

Director: Mario Bava

Starring: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici, Enrico Olivieri

Year: 1960

Runtime: 1h 27min

black

Source

In 17th century Moldavia, Princess Asa Vajda (Steele) is sentenced as a witch by her brother and executed after having the “mask of Satan” nailed to her face. But before she dies, she curses her brother and all his descendants.

black2
To be fair, if someone tried to nail this thing to our faces, we’d probably curse them too

Source

Fast forward 200 years and two travelling doctors stumble upon her grave. One of them, Kruvajan (Checchi), is attacked by a bat which he kills over Asa’s tomb smashing the cross guarding it in the process. He then proceeds to remove her mask and spill blood on her.

black3
“Let’s open this tomb with the strangely preserved corpse and drip some blood on it” – a man who has never seen a horror film

Source

Kruvajan and his young companion Andre Gorobec (Richardson) then run into a mysterious young woman who bears a striking resemblance to the dead witch, Katia (Steele again) and Andre is smitten.

black4
It’s hard to resist a woman with two massive dogs

Source

After the meddling with the dead witch’s grave, the surviving members of the Vajda family start to experience strange phenomena, and it becomes clear that Asa and her companion Javuto (Dominici) are back for revenge.

black5
“Grrr rawr, I’m coming to get you, Barbara!”

Source

We’re back in our favourite genre with this horror film, and we have a bit of a thing for Mario Bava (especially Sister the Oldest), so naturally we loved Black Sunday. It’s an unsettling and atmospheric Gothic horror with gorgeous lighting and some very good effects. We loved Asa’s resurrection and Katia’s transformation, Barbara Steele’s eyes (emphasized by intense make-up) and the creepy castle.

black6
Not what most people associate with a “come hither look,” but strangely effective nonetheless

Source

Sure, there are some issues with this movie, such as the slightly iffy dialogue and the fact that everyone keeps treating Katia like an idiot child (even with everything going on and several corpses piled up, the men don’t really believe her when she claims to have seen someone in her room), but we still love it.

black7
In the men’s defence, Katia does tend to act a bit like an idiot child, so they may be justified

Source

Absolutely a must-see if you’re into Italian cult horrors. Which of course is everyone’s favourite genre, so why wouldn’t you watch it?

What we learned: Don’t remove all protective elements and then spill blood on cursed graves. Just don’t.

Next time: Breathless/À bout de souffle (1960)