Spirits of the Dead (1968)

Spirits of the Dead (1968)

Three eerie, decadent tales inspired by EA Poe stories.

Available on Blu-ray, a multi-region import sold by Amazon. It has both an English dub track and an original language track, some of which is English. Rather good image in the bright scenes.

Metzengerstein, directed by Roger Vadim.

In a fantasy dress-up piece, wicked and scantily clad Countess Jane Fonda lives a life of cruel debauched orgies. (She needs to meet Prince Prospero from The Masque of the Red Death (1964)). When her gentle cousin (real life brother Peter Fonda) refuses to play her games, she has his stables burned. He dies in the fire, but a magnificent black horse emerges from the flames.

Avenging fury or not, she falls under its spell. She likes this horse. We're given to understand she really likes this horse. Vengeance from beyond the grave can't end well, and in the end she welcomes the fire.

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William Wilson, directed by Louis Malle.

Sadistic rogue Alain Delon has been plagued by a mysterious double all his life. Destroy the other, destroy the self?

There is some early giallo gruesomeness with scalpels here, and erotic bondage. The implication is that the main character is impotent, but he gets off by flogging Brigitte Bardot when she loses at cards.

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Toby Dammit, directed by Federico Fellini.

This is the showpiece of the set, a delirious nighttime Roman adventure, both comic and disturbing. Very Fellini. What an eye that guy has.

Drunken film star Terence Stamp descends into Rome for a new movie and an awards ceremony. "Where's my Ferrari?" I say "descends" because he is obviously in Hell. He seems to know it, in a bemused and tormented way.

Stamp is just excellent as a temporary celebrity at the end of his rope. He has such a distinguished skull-like face. The film delivers a tremendous sense of speed and doom as he races through the murky streets of nighttime Rome.

A story: Michael Caine wrote that he and Stamp shared an apartment when they were starving actors. Stamp became famous first (for Billy Budd) and a flood of beautiful young women suddenly wanted to know him. As a loyal roommate, Caine's job was something like an air traffic controller, easing the previous date out the back door while the next one came in the front.

"Toby Dammit" is a character from Poe's comic tale "Never Bet the Devil Your Head". Very little relation to the film.

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