Friday, July 31, 2020

The Blood Rose

The Blood Rose aka La Rose Écorchée
Claude Mulot

A man named Frederick Lansac (Philippe Lemaire) is a botanist and painter who falls in love with a woman, Anne (Anny Duperey), at a costume party. Their romance hits a roadblock when a jealous partygoer pushes Anne’s face into a fire, scarring her horribly. Frederick fakes her death and Anne remains isolated in his castle. One day Frederick discovers Dr. Römer (Howard Vernon) a disgraced plastic surgeon and concocts a plan to get Anne a new face, even if he must kill for it.

Every movie party I host looks exactly like this.

The Blood Rose lifts the core of its story from Eyes Without a Face (1960) with men employing unethical means to preserve a woman’s beauty and thus her "true" value. The Blood Rose subverts a few tropes of this sub-sub-genre of horror while at the same time cranking up the sexuality and misogyny. Perhaps the most interesting change is that we never get to the actual face stealing. A number of things occur that prevent it from happening, from a deadly plant to murderous dwarves (one of whom is dressed as a caveman for some reason), and Anne’s own unstable mind. The Blood Rose also ups the sleaze considerably. There is plenty of nudity and curvy European ladies lounging around the castle. The film also gives us some ugly violence to contrast it, and a lengthy sexual assault scene involving a victim and the two dwarf henchmen It isn’t explicit per se but goes on for far too long, the camera lingering on the woman’s naked body as she is attacked over and over again. 

The biggest strength of European horror films from this era is often the atmosphere and locations. While The Blood Rose never reaches the poetic heights of Eyes Without a Face, it does offer some wonderful shots of a creepy castle complete with mysterious fog and a vast overgrown greenhouse. In that respect, The Blood Rose is a gothic delight. There is also some weirdness in the shape of a bizarre shop that seems to be made from an organic-looking structure covered in stucco. It has many winding claustrophobic rooms and a red floor that evokes a sense of unease.

"Can I offer you some pants in this trying time?"

The Blood Rose is very casually paced, although things do pick-up speed by the climax, this is a story that asks you to sit and drink in it pleasantries and its horrors. If you are familiar with the structure of these kinds of medical horror tales then the pace might prove just a little bit too slow, but the film throws in a few changes to the typical narrative to keep the overall effect from becoming too much of a slog. 

If you like Euro horror, especially of this vintage, The Blood Rose offers some mild pleasures. There are prettier films, there are more perverted films, and there are more horrific films out there but this one offers enough slight chills and sex to be engaging.

No comments:

Post a Comment