Before it actually fascinates. Fascination serves merely to titillate. In fact, the first half of this film is an increasingly frustrating experience. All the dialogue about what is going to happen later intercut with softcore sex scenes. The two female leads are both very attractive and play their parts well, but we start to lose interest when the narrative slows to a crawl.
Luckily, something wonderful happens at the half way point. Almost instantly the sexual aspects of the film are dropped and a sequence of violence changes the whole direction of the film. This sequence is not particularly brutal or grotesque, but rather is done so well and feels earned that the viewer becomes enthralled with the story and changes happening with the major characters. Now new characters are introduced and new themes as well. Where before sex was titillation of both characters and audience, it is now portrayed as a means to wield power by both men and women. Before the plot felt static and repetitive, in the second half the narrative seems to burst with possibilities. At the end, the reveal is not an entire surprise, but the manner in which it is delivered catches the viewer off guard.
This is the first film I have viewed by Jean Rollin. Outside of Eyes without a Face, this may be the only French horror film I have seen. Naturally, I loved the style in almost every aspect of the production. While this film never truly scares, there are quite few unsettling images that made me look away. I look forward to explore more titles from this subgenre.
3/5 Butcher shops. This is probably the bloodiest scene of the film. Butcher shops are always pretty gross, and it didn’t help that this film was set in 1909.