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Repulsion Review


Essential
Today's lesson: Don't leave the crazy lady alone with a straight razor.

Roman Polanski's Repulsion has been rightly hailed as a chilling examination of a woman going mad. With unnerving intensity, it places us in the shoes of Catherine Deneuve's fragile beautician, whose unexplained trauma and sexual repression induce bizarre, frightening hallucinations that ultimately drive her to murder. But just as powerful is its notion of an outside world incapable of aiding her. Polanski's penchant for exploring helplessness and indifference has seen more overt expression in other films, but here it forms a haunting counterpoint to the central drama, a statement both on insanity and the banal monstrosities which enable it.

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Cul-De-Sac Review


Very Good
Roman Polanski's character study is strange, creepy, and often compelling. The freaky foursome in the film are a pair of criminals on the run and a husband and wife in whose home they uninvitedly take up residence. The criminals (including Lionel Stander, the butler from Hart to Hart) turn the husband (Donald Pleasence) into a snivelling fool, while the wife (Françoise Dorléac) is alternately a vamp and a freaked-out basket case. How they interact -- and how this all ends up -- is devilishly interesting, though it's ultimately not terribly believable.

The Fearless Vampire Killers Review


Very Good
Even when he's at his most serious (The Pianist), his most stately (Tess), his most gruesome (Macbeth), Roman Polanski is a director with a keen, sardonic black wit. The "real" world, for Polanski, is one in which you might find human teeth embedded in the walls, where the neighbors might happen to be Satanists, where Donald Pleasance appears in drag. It's scary, but for Polanski (who lived through unimaginable horrors himself), it's blackly funny, too. And if the material is ostensibly quite heavy, as it is in The Pianist, so much the better. Weren't Nazis a kind of monster after all? How absurd was their rise to power? And how absurd the situations in which his protagonist found himself obliged to live?

Still, there are few declared comedies in Polanski's filmography. The best of these, 1967's The Fearless Vampire Killers (known outside the U.S. as Dance of the Vampires, and the basis of a recent, successful, European stage musical), is newly available on DVD.

Continue reading: The Fearless Vampire Killers Review

Gene Gutowski

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