#233 – Evenings of the Dead (Soirées du Morte, Les)

(1976, Fr/It, 118 min) Dir Alain Andere. Cast Sylvia Maria, Niels Arestrup, Maria Rohm, Orson Welles.

For his first film since 1968’s Extase de l’Obscurité Alain Andere teamed up with Sylvia Maria, then white-hot following her performance in Louis Blanc’s absurd, offensive and inexplicably popular Prostituée de l’Amour as the titular ‘Prostitute of Love’. She and Arestrup are a pair of heroin addicts bobbing on the poverty line in Paris – nonpersons, basically, who can be kidnapped by Maria Rohm and her band of henchmen who travel around the city in an old ambulance collecting such types. They are conveyed to a vast country estate presided over by Orson Welles’ Count Puce (mostly confined to a big chair or a litter), the head of a group of parasitic entities from beyond space who drain the life force from their victims. But first, sport – they, along with another half-dozen victims, are released onto the estate and are hunted down one by one. To the keen-eyed this is basically the same film as his last one but with the Marxist subtext amplified and as subtle as a brick. To those who can stomach their metaphors broad and can live with Maria’s inept acting (she appears cross-eyed and stoned throughout) there’s plenty to enjoy with typically stunning photography and some fantastically gruesome death scenes both sides of the class divide.

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