OOM #28 – Repulsion (1965)

After today there are only three more days of this October Overlook Madness, and we will already miss the incredible movies that we managed to see, the good and the bad, the great and the mediocre, the scary and the funny, we miss it all, and it’s always an experience that will follow us, sadly, to the grave, as with each movie we become more and more aware of our mortality, and with every hour spent we feel that we are one step closer to that ultimate demise, the time where we will finally fall for the saddest and maybe horrifying death that we have destined for us. So, hey, happy days, people!

So, today the movie that James Rolfe talked about in his Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness was the sequel ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ (1936), which I already saw, actually, as part of the Horror Month I did about two years ago, where I mixed up the movies of the Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness with those I had to see from my list in ascendent order. I wrote about the film itself here, but it’s in Spanish. In it I basically say the same things that James says about this movie, that it has some gorgeous scenery and an incredible cinematography, as well as how the performers work with the material, the film is perfect for the era of Universal movies, and it ends its first ‘cycle’ of horror movies. I also mention how she is a lesbian vampire, yet the movie while addressing that, it does it showing it in a negative and archaic light, with the presence of a psychologist to ‘make sense’ of her behavior, being the vampiric curse akin to lesbianism, a curse she wants to be freed of.

It’s actually surprising how much of what I say in the review can be mirrored to what James said in his video (which you can see here) I even mention how it seems like a mirror feature to its predecessor, ‘Dracula’ (1931), having its final powerful scene back in Transylvania. Hey, you know what they say about great minds! Anyway, I rated the movie 8 out of 10 at the time, and I had a great time seeing it. So, that leaves us with the question, what do I see today then?

So, being the second day in a row that I’ve seen the film that James talks about, means that I have to advance through the list, and as yesterday’s movie was released in 1964, I have to advance to 1965, where there’s only one horror movie yet to see from my list of films-to-see. The classic and apparently influential Roman Polanski film ‘Repulsion’ (1965), I’ve heard a lot of great things about this movie, so let’s see how this holds up to my scrutiny. Read and see!

What an impressive movie we have here in our hands, a movie directed by no other than Roman Polanski, the master of the inclosed spaces and the claustrophobic environments. Here he pushes the envelope, he brings something at the same time strong and at the same time a bit expected from a situation that is awful, the repression and harassment of a young woman. Some of the scenes in this movie look just incredibly discomforting in these days, specially in the relation our female protagonist has with men, and specially how they react when in presence of her, she is followed, talked to and even her front door gets smashed and broken by a man who “only wants to talk to her”, these scenes maybe didn’t have that much strength then, but they have a strong resonance nowadays, specially in a day like today when there are many institutions and associations trying to end the street harassment of women, and specially the whole shebang about the internet being selfish and woman hating and all.

Now, besides the point of this movie, I must say that even though I disagree with any kind of violence or harassment being done to women, I don’t want that in the future if I ever disagree with a female in any kind of argument, I’m immediately posed in a band of people in which you could find rapists and rape apologists. I won’t take that, thanks. Anyway, back to the movie about Catherine Deneuve slowly losing her mind over the fact that she is attractive to men and she can’t help but hate them, actually, whenever she ends up losing her shit, it’s so comprehensible, it’s the thing I would’ve done if I was in the situation in what she was, and obviously with time we see that she is losing her mind, with the Freudian hallucinations that she enters constantly when she ends up alone in her apartment, but in the end she is just defending her mind and her body from the constant attacks of the male figures.

The presence of the arms coming out of the cracking walls, while making the most impressive imagery of the film, alongside the fact that we’re seeing Deneuve on a film, it is also a weak symbol for what’s going on in the mind of the character. In a way, I understand that she feels that she’s surrounded, she is constantly attacks, but the fact that at times she gets herself grabbed and she doesn’t fight it, we must see that she has an underlining desire of having the excitement and the presence of a man in her life, but one that doesn’t come out of nowhere to harass her, but one that will calmly accept the way she behaves and doesn’t force himself. As a horror movie, it works, it presents a weak character that with time will become stronger, crazier and at the same time more violent, it is as if the presence of the scary and spooky imagery in the walls and her bed augment her desires to be violent and attack back to those who attack her in the first place. As I was watching I realized that I had to watch this movie before I made the short film, there are some scenes that are identical. Hey, you know what they say… great minds…? No?



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