Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Demoniacs (Jean Rollin, 1974)

The sea giveth and the sea taketh away. Is that a famous quote or something? Don't worry, I'm going to commence describing–in excruciatingly precise detail, of course–the deceptively robust contours of Lieva Lone's shapely lower half in a matter of moments. The only reason I ask is because the expression feels strangely familiar. Either way, I think it applies to Jean Rollin's The Demoniacs (a.k.a. Curse of the Living Dead), as the sea plays a vital role in this film. One minute you're enjoying the sound of the waves as they gently crash against the shore, and the next you're fighting to keep your head above the water as chunks of slippery seaweed begin to antagonize your increasingly panic stricken extremities. While the sea can be cruel, humankind can be even crueler. Imagine surviving a horrific shipwreck only to be raped and murdered when you stagger ashore. I'm sorry if you don't want to imagine something so awful, but that's what happens. Now, make no mistake, you're tolerance for watching scenes that involve abject brutality will be tested in the early going. But the oddly beautiful and beautifully odd places this film ends up going will cause you to feel that the barrage of unpleasantness you had to endure at the beginning was worth your while. Really? Yeah, totally. And, no, I'm not just referring to Lieva Lone's tasty stems when I say, "odd and beautiful." Though, it should be noted, they're the film's biggest draw from a perverted point-of-view. Actually, according to one of them dictionary thingies, the word "perverted" usually refers to something that is sexually abnormal. And I think most of you will agree that there's nothing abnormal about appreciating Lieva Lone's legs, or any other part of her organic structure for that matter.
Anyway, my point being, this film has a lot to offer besides seaside rape and scrumptious gams. For starters, it's lyrical and haunting. Which is quite the achievement when you consider the fact that the four lead characters are admitted scoundrels. Wait a minute, don't you mean three? No, no, no, Joëlle Coeur is a scoundrel, too. Don't let her big, blue eye shadow adorned eyes fool you, she's despicable.
The reason I called the four lead characters "admitted scoundrels," as supposed to just plain scoundrels, was because they seem proud of their wickedness.
Since only a handful of people know what a "wrecker" is, we're given a wrecker refresher course at the beginning of the film. Now, some might say this so-called "refresher course" insults the audience's intelligence. I, on other hand, found the brief lesson on wrecking, and, not to mention, the backstories that fleshed out the four main wreckers, to be not only helpful, but informative as well.
Imagine, if you will, a pirate without a ship. Pretty weird, right? Well, what a wrecker does is, they lure ships to their doom by causing them run around in tide affected waters; they do so by lighting a large fire that causes those on board the doomed vessels to believe they're close to a port. And as the hulls of the wooden ships are split open by the jagged rocks of the shoreline, the wreckers simply collect whatever cargo washes ashore.
Four wreckers are doing just that on the night this film opens. Each carrying a lantern in order to see in the dark, a wrecker known simply as Captain (John Rico) leads Bosco (Willy Braque), Paul (Paul Bisciglia), both former sailors and reputed scumbags, and Tina (Joëlle Coeur), who apparently devours men with her ravenous "she-wolf jaws," scour the shore for wayward booty.
Coming across a couple of trunks, one containing a gaudy gold necklace, the wreckers seem pleased by the haul so far. When all of a sudden, they hear someone crying for help in the darkness. Staring into the empty void with the intensity of a thousand suns, the wreckers wait patiently for whoever is in need of assistance to appear. If you thought for a second that the wreckers were going to help those in need, then your faith in humanity is stronger than most.
The sight of Lieva Lone and Patricia Hermenier struggling to make it ashore is the film's first indelible image. And I say "first," because The Demoniacs is full of images that could be construed as "indelible." Anyway, my mind is currently racing, as I can't quite decide what to call Lieva and Patricia's characters. Sure, they're listed in the credits as "Demoniac #1" and "Demoniac #2," but I don't care for those names. I was thinking about calling Lieva "the shapely blonde" and Patricia "the skinny blonde," but I don't care for those, either. What I think I'll do is, just call them by their real names, as I like the idea that Lieva and Patricia's characters don't have names. And why would they? The wreckers are too busy raping and killing them to bother to asking them what their names are.
You heard right, after getting the nod from the Captain, Bosco and Paul run toward Lieva and Patricia (who are wearing long, white nightgowns, and leaning on each other for support) and proceed to rape and kill them in a scene that does not shirk from depicting their cruelty. To make the scene seem even more callous, we're occasionally shown shots of the Captain and Tina trying on clothes in a cavalier fashion as Lieva and Patricia scream for their lives. 
If the object of this scene was for us to despise the wreckers when all was said and done, it totally worked. These four individuals are too loathsome for words. And, yes, Tina, that includes you as well. So don't bother waving those big tits of yours in my general direction. I am unmoved. That's right, put them away. And besides, I'll take Lieva Lone's unpretentious gams over your jiggly mammaries any day of the week.
Didn't you hear me, Tina? I said put your tits away. For some strange reason, Tina, no doubt confused by my lack of interest in her breasts, decides to hop on top of a giant rock and starts to hurl her hairy vagina in every possible direction. Apparently, Tina's hirsute crotch revue wasn't for my benefit. Get this, it was her way signalling to the Captain that she was ready to be penetrated. Just as the Captain was about to mount Tina, Bosco and Paul starting tossing Lieva and Patricia around like a couple of wet ragdolls. It should come as no surprise that Lieva and Patricia probably won't survive this ordeal. Or will they?
First of all, I would definitely hang out at a bar that had the cock-stirring Monica Swinn as one of its resident floozies. As most people know, I can be quite bashful when it comes extolling the virtues of the women I find attractive. But I have to say, Monica Swinn has got it going on in this film. However, given that her character is listed in the credits as "girl in tavern," she doesn't get anything substantial as far as dialogue goes. You just sort see in the background acting like a trollop; albeit, a leggy trollop in a sparkly choker-style necklace.
At any rate, the reason we're at this bar is because it's where the Captain likes to get his drink on. Sitting alone at a table in the corner of the bar (a bar, by the way, that has a morbid decor), sipping from a mug of beer and chomping on a cigar. If the Captain thinks the decor of his favourite bar is morbid now, wait until he sees Lieva's bloodied, lifeless body lying on his table. Bolting from his seat, the Captain, the sleeves of his puffy shirt soaked with sweat,  notices a bloodied Patricia lying in the same lifeless state at a nearby table.
Are they ghosts? Are they zombies? Are they... demoniacs? Whatever they are, they're freaking the Captain out like you wouldn't believe.
If you were to ask me to provide a rough facsimile that encapsulates my aesthetic point-of-view, I would show you some stills from The Demoniacs. Which ones in particular, you ask? Well, for starters, I would go with the shots of Lieva and Patricia posing while covered in blood in the bar, as I love robotic, new romantic-style posing.
After that, I would go with anything that involves Lieva Lone and Patricia Hermenier being lead through the ruins by a leggy clown in red pantyhose.
Wait a minute, leggy trollops, leggy clowns, are you sure...don't forget, leggy demoniacs named Lieva, okay, leggy demoniacs named Lieva, are you sure this film wasn't directed by Jess Franco, a.k.a. the only director who knows how to properly shoot leggy women under duress? No, I'm sure it's a Jean Rollin joint. Besides, I can tell already Jean Rollin has a thing for scenes that feature two women, whether they be vampires or demons, standing side by side in a manner that can best be described as alluringly sinister. I don't know about that. How 'bout, seductively menacing? Either way, they're standing next to one another and they're both creeping me out and turning me on at the same time.
"Pale and covered in blood," are just some of the lyrics of a song Louise (Louise Dhour), the bar's owner/psychic madame (the place is a brothel as well), sings for the Captain, Bosco, and Paul. Disturbed that Louise seems to know exactly what just occurred out on that slimy beach, the wreckers, including Tina, are determined to kill Lieva and Patricia. I know, didn't they already do that? Well, they plan on killing them again. And they better do it fast, because according to Louise, if Lieva and Patricia make it to the ruins, some nasty shit is in store for the wreckers.
When their attempt at stopping Lieva and Patricia from reaching the ruins fails, all the wreckers can do is await their fate. I bet you're dying to know what's so important about these so-called ruins. Well, let's just say, the Devil (Miletic Zivomir) is trapped there, and all that it would take to extricate him from the ruins are one leggy blonde and one skinny blonde.
When Lieva and Patricia arrive at the ruins, they're greeted by a...let me guess, a leggy clown in red pantyhose? Damn, you're good. No, you mentioned her before. Oh. At any rate, the Clown (Mirelle Dargent) gives them a fresh change of clothes (those nightgowns were starting to fall apart) and takes them to see a character listed in the credits as an "Exorcist." Personally, I thought he looked like this guy I see every so often browsing the new age section at Seekers Books.
While that's interesting and all, what kind of clothes did the Clown give them? Yikes! Sorry about that. I can't believe I almost let that slip by. Yeah, the outfits. Well, let's see, Lieva is given a salmon shirt-dress and Patricia is given a purple shirt-dress. Actually, I don't really think they're "dresses" per se. It would seem that they were just not given pants. And, I have to say, thank you, leggy clown in red pantyhose. Thank you for making Lieva and Patricia, who were already sexy to begin with, even sexier.
I'll admit, the reason I was more drawn to Lieva Lone had a lot to do with the shape of her legs. I'm sorry, but Lieva's legs were more my thing. However, I also admired the fact that Lieva Lone does most of the heavy lifting when it came to the many scenes that involved sex, rape, and violence.
Poetic and lyrical, The Demoniacs is a must for fans of arty horror films that manage to provide the sleaze and untoward titillation us normal people crave on a regular basis. Speaking of sleaze and untoward titillation, be sure to check out the outtakes on the Redemption DVD, as they give us extended softcore sex scenes that feature Joëlle Coeur and Isabelle Copejans.


  1. Great write up as usual. I love this flick.

  2. Thanks. This week is Jean Rollin week at the HOSI. Fax it to a friend. ;)

  3. Joelle Coeur scares the living hell out of me in this one; and yet she's still gorgeous. However, I seem to have a thing for women who scare me; Brigitte Lahaie is another example. Anyway, I personally find Ms. Coeur the best thing about this movie.

  4. Upon reaching the clown, the girls in short nightgowns are given SHORTER nightgowns. Who needs pants right?

  5. @Nine-Fingered Menace: Joelle Coeur is an attractive woman.

    @Kev D.: Pants are for suckers.


    They should remake The Demoniacs as a 2 Broke Girls-style sitcom. It's too Burt Convy isn't still alive, as I would totally cast him as their wacky next-door neighbour.

  6. For whatever reason, Rollin incessantly repeats the motif of two women in his film. Constantly arising from the scenery as half-clothed phantoms from the edge of some psychosexual fever dream.

    The atmosphere in his films is gorgeous.

  7. The two women standing together motif is featured in all the Rollin flicks I watched.

  8. What can I say, I prefer brunettes to blondes. I also think that Coeur is the one with the most talent in this film. Demoniacs was one of the first Jean Rollin films I've ever watched, although it escapes my memory whether it or Night of the Hunted was the very first. Overall, with the exception of the lack of vampirism, I think it is a more or less complete collection of Rollin's various themes, preferences and idiosyncrasies as a director.

  9. I was all ready to jump in and say The Demoniacs was my first Jean Rollin flick as well. But then I realized I had seen Bacchaneles Sexuelles, which is a softcore romp that stars - you guessed it - Joelle Coeur.

  10. Great to see you busting out the Rollin. I'm a huge fan.

    I have all 7 Rollin DVD releases from a Dutch company caled Encore Films that released those and then disappeared. That set is among my most prized possessions. The Demoniacs set is 3 discs with a 64 page book. They are nutballz.

    I love the random dude in the tavern who strokes his Dracula doll.

    That's one hot unfunny clown. She's played by Mireille Dargent, who stars in Requiem for a Vampire and also dresses up as a clown for that one also (as well as in Iron Rose). Rollin said that she became a professional clown after dressing up as one for the movie. I don't know why I'm telling you this.

  11. I wouldn't call watching three Rollin flicks "busting out." But it's a start. Baby steps.

    Though, not quite as prized as your Frankie Goes to Hollywood video game. ;)

    So, I guess Miss Dargent is Rollin's go-to actress whenever he needs a hot unfunny clown in one of his movies.

  12. I meant "busting out" as in "bust out a move", the move being grabbing the Rollin dvd and putting it in the player. I can't help it if Canadians cant speak English like normal people. :)

    I wish I still had that game. I think my mom donated it to a church. I'm not kidding.

    Unfunny hot clowns don't grow on trees, you know.

  13. Ah, busting out as in busting out. I get it now.

    No, you still have that game. You keep it in a fancy glass case on the shelf where you keep all your other weird and wonderful collectibles. ;)