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Mesdames et Messieurs, les Maîtres «Bis» voudraient présenter une Table-ronde qui célèbre un type particulier de cinéma: des films qui sont parfois grands, parfois mauvais, parfois des nanars incroyables. Oui, des films de France. Mais pas des films typiques!

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1000 Misspent Hours and Counting The Iron Rose (1973) This is going to sound like damningly faint praise, but I mean it in all sincerity: The Iron Rose is the best movie I’ve ever seen in which absolutely nothing happens. I don’t recommend it for everyone— shit, I don’t recommend it for myself ten years ago— but if Rollin’s notion of a horror movie that works by atmosphere alone sounds to you like anything other than a fool’s errand, you ought to give it a try.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers (1973) The stained-glass gazebo where Beatrice sets up her impromptu dungeon has room for only one prisoner at a time, though, so while she and Fred are working on Jackie, Monica is able to ply her feminine wiles on Shades unobserved. She conks him on the head with a heavy mantelpiece knickknack while they’re making out, then runs away to the nearest town. There she goes not to the cops, but to the office of Harry (Pierre Julien), the world’s least competent private detective. (I assume that the visibly miniscule budget could not be stretched to cover a precinct station for the world’s least competent police.)
Braineater Devil Story / Il était une fois le diable (1985) There’s this little matter of execution that prevents Devil Story from realizing the promise of that staggeringly potent poster. If “execution” makes you think of some guilty wretch being dragged out and shot at dawn, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s in store for your brain if you should ever encounter Devil Story (and you will! Read on…).
La Chambre ardente / The Burning Court (1962) Through his entire career, Duvivier showed a willingness to consider any project that interested him, whether it was a significant artistic statement or a trivial Hollywood throwaway. He brought the same level of craftsmanship to all of his projects, and his success in commercial films may be one reason why the critics and his successors in the Nouvelle Vague tended to undervalue his work. Yet there is one movie among his late period films that stands out as something of an oddity: La Chambre ardente (1962), a movie that sits somewhere between an art film and a Gothic thriller… not so straightforward as to be easily classified as a detective potboiler, but not quite serious enough — or perhaps not clear enough in what it’s trying to say — to come off as some sort of meaningful statement.
And You Call Yourself A Scientist! Le Viol Du Vampire (1968) The blast of a gun puts down both Thomas and Curable Vampire, who are last seen sprawled upon the damp sand, the low tide lapping about them—and dead; definitely dead.Except that they’re not.Not, at least, according to Les Femmes Vampires, “Part Deux” of our story, which arrives with a whole new cast – a necessity, seeing that Jean Rollin had already killed off most of the original one – and even a separate set of credits. The storyline of this section puts a completely different spin on what we’ve just witnessed, one which makes utter nonsense of the grim psychological drama we thought we were watching.
The Unknown Movies The Outside Man (1972) Engel’s housewife character, by the way, is portrayed to be kind of a scatterbrain, enough that she brings some welcome and genuinely funny comedy relief to the movie. At one point, when she is asked by the police to identify a body (not her first), she blandly says, “That’s all right, I’m getting used to it.”
The Prize of Peril (1983) The contestants of the game show are taken by helicopter a mile away to a location from the studio, and once they reach that location they have four hours to get back to the studio. If they reach the studio in time, they will win a prize of one million dollars. It may sound simple, but there’s a catch. At the same time, five armed hunters pursue the contestant with the intent to kill him.It does sound somewhat like The Running Man, doesn’t it?
Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension Fantomas in the Shadow of the Guillotine (1913) In the fever dream world of Fantômas, both from the books and in director Feuillade’s adaptations, the word ‘disguise’ barely covers it. Fantômas has entire identities that appear to somehow live full lives of their own. In Feuillade’s films alone we see him several times appear in the role of, say, a head banker who apparently spends his day attending to the bank’s business and interacting with his staff. At the same time he is also a doctor, a shady landlord and others. He somehow maintains these identifies even when spending months on end in prison.


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