Reviews

Room Of Chains, The (1972)

According to my Dad’s friend, “Disco” Bob Schmul, the key component for a “#1 Best Party” is a vagina with a snake hanging out on it. And guess what? This movie is a #1 Best Party!

The Room Of Chains is total garbage. It’s French. But it’s not very “French.” There are no correlations to be drawn with Jean Rollin’s hypnotic elegance or N.G. Mount’s grotesque bliss. Rather, the film taps into Andy Milligan‘s self-loathing, melodramatic veins, sucks ’em dry, then stops by a sexy chateau from Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball to memorialize the occasion. Plus, a snake and a vagina.

Georges has a wife named Florence. But, he also has a lover named Marc. When not running an antique store with his wife, Georges employs the services of a grimacing brute to steal women from their bicycles and chain them in a basement. The brute kinda looks like Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge if Alan Partridge wore pink dishpan gloves and a Beatles wig. He also rubs up against the girls. The basement stairs hide a peephole, and that’s where Georges and Marc lie on their stomachs and peep, then expound on hilariously limp psychology. A woman exposes her breasts to police officers. Twice. Daydream inserts feature a naked church organist while flashbacks explore the joys of a snake-on-a-vag atop a satanic altar. Towards the end, the film decides to shift its focus towards a couple who are totally in love. Then someone says, “Hey, did you hear? She was raped last night!” and everyone else says, “Ha-ha!”

Presented with true-crime flair (“The story you are about to see was taken from the composite files of the French civil police”), Room is plotless exploitation with no tact, be it considerate or off-the-rails. Given its benign attitude, the film could have easily become just another 75 minutes of impassive perversion. Like Schoolgirls In Chains. That would have been fine. I’d have admired the landscapes and possibly fallen sleep. In fact, I did sleep. Just for a second. But a shrieking piano woke me up.

Room Of Chains undermines technical rationality for no reason whatsoever. It’s jury-rigged art. And I like that. I like it when films like this emerge as drunken, artsy chaos. Just people messing around, abusing spaz edits, odd camera placements, freeze frames, and cacophonous musical interludes, while sidestepping the hassle of intellectual significance. In other words, this is successfully creative exploitation. Especially in the hands of a French director who chooses extreme close-ups of talking mouths as a preferred method of communication.

Still, chaos remains chaos without a substantial through-line. Director Gerard Trembasiewicz understood. Because his faux-art fairy tale is capped with a superb score from psychedelic experimentalist Guy Skornik. It’s a bashing, hook-filled tryst between the LSD symphonics of France Gall’s “1968” and the lazy mod of Acanthus’s Shiver Of The Vampires soundtrack. None of it made me cringe. All of it made me smile. Skornik’s compositions are the glue for a thoroughly-dumb-yet-perpetually-cool evening of giant mouths, evasive sex, and one very happy snake.

#1 Best.

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