Spirits Of The Dead

Written by Joe D on October 31st, 2008

In honor of Halloween here’s a post about an Art/Horror Omnibus film, Spirits Of The Dead(Histoires extraordinaires). I first heard about this film in an interview with Federico Fellini. Fellini complained that when he signed his contract, the producers told him the other two directors would be Orson Welles and Ingmar Bergman and when he found out that it was going to be Roger Vadim and Louis Malle he was depressed. He wished he hadn’t signed the contract. After reading this I became prejudiced against the film, I watched Toby Dammit, Fellini’s chapter but I never saw the other two, until last night. They ran it on TCM. I was impressed the Malle episode Metzengerstein was excellent, Jane and Peter Fonda playing feuding cousins in Medieval times, that fall in love with dire consequences. If you liked Malle’s surreal Black Moon you’ll dig this one. And Vadim’s William Wilson starring Alain Delon was powerful as well. mainly due to Delon’s magnetic presence, although Bridgett Bardot added a wonderful sexiness. These 2 episodes were period pieces. Malle’s was shot at old ruined castles in the countryside and Jane Fonda’s costumes are incredible. She also is an amazing equestrian, a pleasure to watch on horseback. Toby Dammit is a surreal masterpiece, full of artifice, like the cockpit of the plane sequence and the traffic jam created in a studio reminiscent of the opening of 8 & 1/2.
Also the image of the devil as a little girl with a ball, borrowed from Bava’s Operazione paura (Kill Baby Kill) and borrowed again by later filmmakers, is great. My main criticism is Terrence Stamp sticks his tongue out too often. I’m glad I finally saw the other chapters, I was blinded by my respect for Fellini but the Halloween Spirits Of The Dead opened my eyes.

Spirits Of The Dead Trailer