A Movie A Day: REPULSION (1965)
I must get these cracks mended.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the next installment of A Movie A Day: Halloween 2010 edition!
[For the entirety of October I will be showcasing one horror film each day. Every film is pulled from my DVD shelf or streamed via Netflix Instant and will be one I haven’t seen. Unlike my A Movie A Day or A Movie A Week columns there won’t necessarily be connectors between each film, but you’ll more than likely see patterns emerge day to day.]
After being underwhelmed by Roman Polanski’s THE TENANT I went into his very famous horror story REPULSION a little weary. I can dig a slow burn. I love Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY, for instance, which is a very, very slow burn of a movie, but I need a payoff if you’re going to make me wait for it.
I didn’t feel The Tenant’s payoff quite earned the deliberate pacing, but I’m happy to report that REPULSION sticks the landing. Boy does it stick the landing.
Being so early on in Polanski’s career there’s a heavy feel of Polanski trying to make his mark as a cinematic artist. There’s a raw, naturalistic feel to this film and a heavy focus on framing. It’s not just a film where every shot gets you to the next one that gets you to the next one and so on, but a film where the young Polanski is an artist and wants every shot to be like a painting. Or a trick.
In short, Polanski isn’t letting the script tell the story, but the camera, which has the beneficial effect of drawing the audience in to this tale of madness.
And what a tale of madness.
Basically we follow the gorgeous Catherine Deneuve as a mousy introvert who is so beautiful that it hides her mental problems. Deneuve’s Carol is seriously troubled, much of it seeming to stem from her inner-conflict about men. She is as repulsed by men as she is attracted to them.
The only small grip on sanity she has is the company of her sister, played by the equally beautiful Yvonne Furneaux, who recently made an AMAD appearance in Hammer’s THE MUMMY. But when Furneaux and her current lover leave for a long vacation, Carol is left at home with nobody but herself and her damaged psyche to keep her company.
There are hints leading up to this section (like the first great stinger, which is a reflection scare as Deneuve catches a glimpse of her nightmare man in a dresser mirror), but it’s not until she’s alone that her mind fully crumbles and she begins seeing some really fucked up things.
Speaking of the Nightmare Man, Carol’s visualization of her sexual fears, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks borrows quite a bit from this movie, especially the character of Bob in Fire Walk With Me. I got the same eerie, skin-crawling creepy feeling when Carol’s Nightmare Man showed up as I do whenever I see Bob in Twin Peaks… It’s unpredictable, he can appear from anywhere and there’s nothing that is impossible for him since he doesn’t have to obey any laws of sanity.
There’s some seriously deranged images in this film and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get me to jump at least a couple of times. The before-mentioned mirror reveal got me, even if it’s kind of a cheap stinger, and so did a moment where an arm shoots out of a wall.
But more than that it’s Polanski’s sound design. He used the ticking of a clock to build tension in a way that was surprisingly effective. Church bells (there’s a church across the street) always seem to trigger a new horrific moment for Deneuve. Polanski plays some horror scenes completely silent, removing screams entirely and only having the ambient noise of the lonely apartment.
Add in Deneuve’s somehow incredibly sympathetic murderess and you get a mixture so surreal that it is scarily effective.
Final Thoughts: Some might be bored through the first act. Believe me, I understand losing interest in a dull movie, but Polanski’s hunger to prove himself as an artist kept me interested and his pay-off makes the slow burn worth it. For fans of Rosemary’s Baby you’ll see its tonal precursor with this flick. Very impressed. And Criterion’s Blu-Ray is immaculate, an amazing transfer!
Currently in print on DVD: YES
Currently available on Netflix Instant: NO
Here are the next week’s worth of AMAD titles:
Monday, October 18th: THE VIDEO DEAD (1987)
Tuesday, October 19th: THE BLACK CAT (1981)
Wednesday, October 20th: THE BLACK CAT (1934)
Thursday, October 21st: THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1963)
Friday, October 22nd: DOLLS (1987)
Saturday, October 23rd: SILENT SCREAM (1980)
Sunday, October 24th: SCREAM OF FEAR (1961)
Tomorrow we move to the opposite end of the thriller spectrum to an ‘80s schlocktacular title about zombies that come out of a TV, I think. The Video Dead is next!
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Previous AMAD 2010’s:
- Raw Meat (1972)
- Ghost Story (1981)
- Two on a Guillotine (1965)
- Tentacles (1977)
- Bad Ronald (1974)
- The Entity (1983)
- Doctor X (1932)
- The Return of Doctor X (1939)
- The Tenant (1976)
- Man in the Attick (1953)
- New Year’s Evil (1980)
- Prophecy (1979)
- The Other (1972)
- The Mummy (1959)
- The Gorgon (1964)
- Mad Love (1935)
Click here for the full 215 movie run of A Movie A Day!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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The first act is a bit of a slog. Polanski says in the DVD commentary that he intended the audience to be almost bored by the time it starts to hit. I was watching it with my wife who leapt to her feet at the first appearance of the nightmare man and couldn't watch the rest. Truly scary!
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:10 a.m. CST
(as hidden_shallows forgot to write something) Haven't seen this yet, so I'm glad you didn't spoil too much in the review Quint. May check this out on tehparadox.
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:12 a.m. CST
He just forgot a title header. Going to stay away from the talkbacks for awhile until I can see this first.
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:28 a.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:33 a.m. CST
of her era. She aged very well too, as anyone who has seen her seduction scene with Susan Sarandon in The Hunger can attest.
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:56 a.m. CST
For her age, Deneuve still is.
Oct. 18, 2010, 3:12 a.m. CST
The last shot of this movie has to be one of the most disturbing thing i ever seen in a movie. The first time i saw this movie, as a teen, it scared the bejesus out of me. And it's not a jump scare, it's just a reveal shot through an elaborate zoom in to a photograph. What a way to end a movie!<br><br>That ending also gives us a clue that the reason Deneuve character is so disturbed is not just psychosexual and her repulsion of men, but that she was always like that.
Oct. 18, 2010, 4:22 a.m. CST
are awesome films...Gotta love some classic Polanski!
Oct. 18, 2010, 4:32 a.m. CST
the mind boggles.
Oct. 18, 2010, 4:55 a.m. CST
On topic,i havent seen Repulsion but i have always heard good things about it.so its time to check.and yes Deneuve is hotness personified.
Oct. 18, 2010, 6:30 a.m. CST
by C A Iversen
I'm proud of you. I think you need to put that on a badge, pin it to your chest and wear it to a party. In fact several, if you feel so dearly about it. I sense you won't. The whole torrid subject, it's debate, the endless analysis and fulsome de-construction have all been done to death and back and then to death and then back again on every talk-back featuring Polanski. It takes everyone nowhere near the actual subject, the actual film above.
Oct. 18, 2010, 7:07 a.m. CST
I agree with Quint about "The Tennant." I saw it at the New Beverly a few years ago and bored me to tears. I few weeks ago I was on a Netflix Polanski kick and decided to give "Repulsion" a shot... and man was it worth it. Great flick and creepy as hell.
Oct. 18, 2010, 7:57 a.m. CST
I have the Blu-Ray as well, and it is a beautiful transfer. Worth the price.
Oct. 18, 2010, 8:18 a.m. CST
But you've got to admit, it ain't "Ssssss" it never will be "Ssssss" and quite frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if Quint even has the balls to screen "Ssssss."
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:40 a.m. CST
I had forgotten that movie. It was the first horror film I saw that really freaked me out. Granted, I was about 6 at the time, visiting teenage cousins who weren't supposed to let me see a scary movie.
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:47 a.m. CST
And, oddly enough. a testament to "No means No"
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:54 a.m. CST
but that sort of thing doesn't matter to those who want the man crucified.<br /><br />They are only interested in her when they want to run photos of her 13 year old self, and go over the sordid details again and again. Apart from that, she can just shut the hell up, as far as they are concerned.
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:10 a.m. CST
The photo of Catherine Deneuve's character as a little girl staring at a man next to her who obviously sexually abused her. Ironic, huh.
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:12 a.m. CST
about the original charges than the continued flight from and contempt of the US justice system. Polanski is a dirtbag. More relevant to this discussion, he's vastly overrated as a director--the more the project is on his shoulders, the worse it is.
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:23 a.m. CST
Before discovering AMAD, I was only checking AICN once a week; Tuesdays when Harry posted his DVD/Blu release article. but these AMADs are like a quick conversation about movies and I love them.
Oct. 18, 2010, 12:56 p.m. CST
I'm crazy about that girl.
Oct. 18, 2010, 1:31 p.m. CST
check the word sarcasm in a dictionary,and then re-read my post to understand why it was sarcastic.
Oct. 18, 2010, 1:44 p.m. CST
Soooo dull. I like Polanski a lot - hell, I even liked The Ninth Gate, but this was a real bore.
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:09 p.m. CST
Knifed to death by white people with alot of time on their hands and nothing to do with themselves but take drugs and freak out and wonder where to go freak out next-and it changes the world and they make movies about it. Well. Then I think its ok to fuck a naked chick that your boss keeps sending you to photograph naked for the world to jerkoff too.
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:14 p.m. CST
I dunno, Meesa Larry King, it's good, no?
Oct. 18, 2010, 2:36 p.m. CST
...I remember nudity in a swimming scene when I saw it in a theater. When I bought the dvd, the nudity is masked by superimposed leaves and shit.
Oct. 18, 2010, 3:01 p.m. CST
Polanski an overrated director? Jesus-Christ-on-a-hot-dog-bun, give me a fucking break. KNIFE IN THE WATER, REPULSION, FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, ROSEMARY'S BABY, CHINATOWN, THE PIANIST and even THE GHOST WRITER all refute that bullshit statement. PS: cookylamoo, thanks for making me spit diet coke all over my computer screen :D
Oct. 18, 2010, 3:58 p.m. CST
If you don't mind being tried by Puritans.
Oct. 18, 2010, 4:06 p.m. CST
Focus, people, focus! For fuck's sake! Fucking wankers!
Oct. 18, 2010, 4:16 p.m. CST
He drugged a 13 year old girl and fucked her up the ass. He's more than deserving of eternal derision and scorn, regardless of how much you enlightened cinephiles want to drop it and move on. If nothing else, its a small price to pay for drugging a 13 year old girl and fucking her up the ass.
Oct. 18, 2010, 4:50 p.m. CST
If you have nothing to say about the movie, shut the fuck up. FUCKING WANKERS!
Oct. 18, 2010, 6:19 p.m. CST
by C A Iversen
Who do you think is doing MORE damage to the woman? The people like myself who realise that dozens of people worked on his movies (not just him) and want to focus on a movie that really is a very distinct entity from his personal actions? Or people like you who repeatedly post graphically sordid phrases like "f-ing her up the ass"? If she ever ventured into a page like this out of curiosity about the actual movies the man made and was thinking it was great therapy to help her identify him a different way, she'd just get confronted with sick posts like your own. Your furthering the legacy of the act. To AsimovLives and others, I apologise. You guys are 100% right. By the way, this'll be the fourth movie during this horror month that I'll be hunting out to buy.
Oct. 19, 2010, 3:06 a.m. CST
Do that, hunt for REPULSION. It's a treat.
Oct. 19, 2010, 2:38 p.m. CST
Especially his early ones, just watched Rosemary's Baby again the other night and saw Repulsion for the first time a few months back. Stunning, although my favorite of his is still the 1971 Macbeth.
Oct. 19, 2010, 3:02 p.m. CST
The man's a fucking brilliant filmmaker. One of the best we have. <br> <p> Unfortunately, he's also a pedophile. Doesn't matter if the victim's an adult now and wants the charges dropped. He raped a child. End of story, he should be in jail.
Oct. 19, 2010, 4:15 p.m. CST
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:58 p.m. CST
by frank cotton
the buttfucking has got to stop
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