La Morte Vivante (1982)
- Also known as
- The Living Dead Girl
- Jacques Ralf, Jean Rollin
- Jean Rollin
- Marina Pierro, Françoise Blanchard, Mike Marshall, Carina Barone, Fanny Magieri, Patricia Besnard-Rousseau, Sam Selsk
- Philippe D'Arm
In this Rollin classic, Catherine (Françoise Blanchard) is raised from the dead by a toxic spill, and returns to her old home, where, protected by her childhood “blood sister”, Hélène (Marina Pierro), she goes on a killing spree.
The film, as you’d expect from Rollin, has lots of nudity and (generally silly) gore, but most of all it’s a sort of love story; Catherine and Hélène are coded as lovers (unusually for Euro-sleaze of the era, it’s never made explicit) who slowly come to realise the tragedy of what Catherine is. There’s a lot of beauty in La morte vivante, both as a narrative and as cinema, but there’s also a lot of the classic faults of exploitation: the gore is cheap and pointless — what could have been an interesting contrast feels like a waste of film — and there are quite a few mind-numbingly boring scenes, especially the ones featuring an American couple where entire sequences of scenes go on much longer than they need to. In fact, the American couple are the films greatest flaw: the actors are bad, their dialogue is bad, and their interactions are annoying. Most of their scenes could safely have been left on the cutting room floor.
This could have been Rollin’s masterpiece, his Vampyros Lesbos, if he’d only dropped the gore, lost most of the dialogue, and focused solely on the tragic and eerily beautiful relationship between Catherine and Hélène. As it is, I still very much liked the film, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re an exploitation fan and thus used to overlooking the schlocky parts and focusing on the interesting ones.