Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cattet & Forzani’s Let the Corpses Tan

Instead of Gialos, Belgian filmmakers Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani are now paying homage to Italian Poliziotteschi movies, but there is still plenty of patent leather for them to fetishize over. They must swoon whenever they pass a Coach store. It is still a case of style over substance, but at least they give viewers a little bit of plot-like stuff in Let the Corpses Tan (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

Although it is based on famously untranslated French cult novel, Cattet & Forzani are still more interested in reveling in the images and tropes of Italian genre cinema (as was even more the case in their gialo pastiches, Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears), than telling a story, which is so bourgeoisie. In some ways, this orgy of double-crosses and shoot-outs shares a kinship with the remake of Mario Bava’s Rabid Dogs, but it has a far less cohesive narrative than its predecessor.

Most of the action takes place in the Mediterranean ruins surrounding Luce’s villa, which serves as an artist colony and a crash pad for anti-social anarchists. She has been whiling away the time with her dissipated ex-lover, Max Bernier, a burned out novelist, and Brisorguiel, the slimy lawyer she has been hooking up with. Rhino’s gang is indeed expected, because Luce digs rough outlaw types, but she did not know they had planned to heist gold bullion from an armored car before their arrival (not that she would have cared). Rhino is even sufficiently cool and collected to give a lift to Bernier’s estranged wife, their daughter, and the nanny, after executing the uniformed couriers.

True to criminal form, things get awkward quickly when the gang breaks into two hostile, double-crossing factions, led by Rhino and Brisorguiel. Then two motorcycle cops blunder into the scene. From here on out, the film basically boils down to a series of armed skirmishes. However, the characterization is so thin, it is often impossible to figure out who is shooting at whom.

That is really a shame, because they no-fooling helm some impressively down-and-dirty action sequences. Unfortunately, they insist on punctuating the blazing gun fights with trippy interludes featuring scenes from a scatological passion play, in which Luce plays a fluid-spouting Mary Magdalene-slash-satanic figure. Even if you do not self-identify with Christianity, these nauseating fever dreams are just interminably painful to sit throw. Oh, for the love of Dario Argento and Franco Nero, show us some mercy.

Once again, the real star of Cattet & Forzani’s film is their regular cinematographer Manuel Dacosse, who achieves some amazing visuals with a 16mm camera, the Corsican sun, and who knows how many Red Bulls. The film looks great and it is by far the duo’s most accessible work, but there is still not a lot of there there. Again, style has it all over substance. Recommended primarily for the Belgian filmmakers’ fans, Let the Corpses Tan opens tomorrow (8/31) in New York, at the Quad Cinema.