Night of the Hunted
La Nuit des Traquees
France – 1979
Director – Jean Rollin
Salvation Films, 1999, DVD
The Zombie Collection 3 DVD set
My experience with Jean Rollin is pretty limited, consisting as far as I knew simply of Zombie Lake which is absolutely one of the awesomest barely watchable crappy nazi-zombie-boob movies ever. Knowing now that Rollin is French it doesn’t surprise me that I hadn’t seen more of his films, I hate French exploitation cinema, it’s terrible. Boring and terrible.
Night of the Hunted is perhaps not quite so terrible, but it is pretty boring. The entire story revolves around one girl, Elysabeth (French porn actress Bridgette Lahaie) who is found late one night wandering the roads in her nightgown. Unable to remember what she is doing, or who she is, the French guy who finds her is kind enough to take her back to his place and get her out of her clothes for a graphic softcore romp on the white shag carpet.
Thus begins what I can only describe as a confusing series of violent rapes couched in existential artsy French garbage. Elysabeth herself is picked up from the kindly roadside rapists apartment by a mysterious official sounding couple who take her back to a strange compound/apartment complex where other confused, forgetful and above all mindlessly passive women reside (at least one more of whom is also a porn star).
Also like the women, several men are suffering (according to the doctor) from some sort of “disorder” with symptoms of amnesia, causing them to act irrational and lose their balance. The women wander around in a catatonic state of passivity, ostensibly in a state of socially unlimbered primitive sexual volatility while the men creep about with (also catatonic) knowing predatory malice. The supposed purpose of their captivity is to study the symptoms of this “illness” which is more or less (I would say more) an opportunity for the doctors to watch all these supposedly fragile and unspoiled women get raped, and subsequent post/concurrent coital violence to unfold. They go so far as to call them incurable once they are sufficiently "soiled" and they are then euthanized and cremated for fucks sake. Basically an opportunity for repeated male dominant sexual violence glossed over with excuses (radiation sickness, amnesia) proffered by the bespectacled and pretentious doctor, (who looks more like a city-park old-lady flasher than a medical professional.)
The implication it would seem is that without social constraint it is biologically normal for women to be passive victims, sortof blithely subservient to male sexual violence and competitive domination (and in the case of the doctor, intellectual domination). The sad thing is that the whole film ends up being just that, and attempts to disguise the moral affront in an idiotic French surrealist-minimalist (and totally bullshit and boring)“artistic” framework.
The problem is that for the most part the women involved are quite attractive and often naked, but the social violence scrapes what semblance of redeeming fun off the bones of exploitation (in the “film” sense of the term) and leaves it a twitching unappealing mass of peeled meat that looks pretty, but leaves a foul taste and makes you feel a little guilty for watching it to the bitter end.
Salvation films, at least on this 3 film set has resorted to a sort of bizarre introductory montage of extreme-costume-goth vampire softcore which makes almost no sense considering the content of the films (at least in this set) that they have released. This is a "zombie" movie set, decidedly the least "goth" undead, and Night of the Hunted could hardly be categorized as containing zombies. Whatever,
The Liner Notes of The Night of the Hunted with an essay on Rollin by Mark Morris, and an image of the ridiculous vampire (wielding a Colt! how, um, gothic?) of the intro.