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Spirits of the Dead based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
"Spirits of the Dead" is an anthology of three tales adapted from the works of Edgar Allan Poe, directed by three of the most notable foreign directors of the Sixties. The first, "Metzengerstein" directed by Roger Vadim, concerns a sadistic hedonist Countess Frederica, awkwardly portrayed by then-Mrs. Vadim Jane Fonda as if she were searching for any hint of direction. Frederica torments her staff and guests until she becomes infatuated with her cousin Wilhelm (uncomfortably cast with Fonda's own brother Peter!). Tragedy ensues in the usual Poe fashion, but the minor mood piece is not a good fit for the sensualist Vadim who, instead of finding a cinematic equivalent to what is basically not a narrative driven tale, turns his segment into a ridiculous anti-erotic fashion show with Mrs. Vadim flouncing about in a different Barbarella outfit in, seemingly, every cut. The second segment improves somewhat with Louis Malle's adaptation of "William Wilson" with Alain Delon portraying the title character haunted by a doppelganger. The story unfolds smoothly but rather coldly, and in the end unravels at a tepid pace until it's obvious and telegraphed conclusion. An extended card playing sequence featuring Brigitte Bardot offers little dramatically except to prove she swallows with great distinction. Which leaves the third and by far best sequence, Fellini's "Toby Dammit" based upon the humorous story "Never Bet the Devil Your Head". Brilliantly photographed by Giuseppe Rotunno, in Fellini's vision Toby is tranformed into famous actor who is suffering an apocalyptic burnout. Arriving in Rome to star in a Western retelling the story of Christ, Toby arrives metaphorically already dead, on the edge of Hell. At the airport he sees visions of a sinister young girl (his view of the Devil) playing with a ball, a vision he has obviously seen before. The skies are lit with oranges and reds as if smoking brimstone surrounds the terminal, and Toby as played by the intensely magnetic Terence Stamp is ready for the abyss. Fellini pulls out his usual satirical jabs at television and celebrity but in this context it works brilliantly; this could be seen as the film that Fellini relinquishes, once and for all, any adherence to realistic narrative. In Dammit's world, everything is dreamlike, but it is only Fellini's wit that prevents us from experiencing that dream as an unbearable nightmare. The film features an extended car sequence (emphasizing the pristine artistry of editor Ruggero Mastroianni) that builds and builds with simultaneous unease and comic tension, finally unleashing into the logical (and improved upon) conclusion of Poe's tale. Poe's hilarity becomes Fellini's hysteria in what is ultimately, not only the sole reason to seek out this trilogy, but also one of the finest feats of filmmaking in that decade.