I’m sure there are book written about this subject and I’m not claiming to be an authority on it but here’s an easy and slightly obvious guide to the new wave of French bizarre and disturbing films.
The term was originally coined by James Quandt to summarise a collection of transgressive films by French directors. Despite this list claiming to be French a couple of these films are Belgique or even Canadian but are just French in language.. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.
So in no particular order at all, here are 10 easy to find and probably most talked about French Extreme Movies, Vol 2 will be a little more obscure.. or at least I hope so.
This movie is probably the most recent that I’ve watched and it’s the only reason why it’s in this top position. It’s a disgusting buckets of gore body shocker that highlights the dangers of chemical waste being released into the nature and breeding mutant creatures. A family who are spending time in a remote cabin fancy a bit of hunting are soon have their weekend turned into a nightmare when they become the prey of a large mutated bore. A delightful step up from Razorback (1984) and Pighunt (2008), this film fixates on the pungent rotting mess that the abandoned pesticide has created, and if the stronger stomachs can sit through this it has a lot of gory and disturbing action scenes to top it off. It’s all kinda their own fault as it is the patriarch of the family who authorised the dumping of the waste in the first place.. 8/10
Released by After Dark Films who are famed for their low budget and often poorly received movies, this stand out film is quite ingenious it’s set like a backwater American film but with a strong European dark bizarreness about it. A few youngsters are fleeing the race riots in Paris and end up at a strange motel that is run by a family with ties from the third reich. Race plays a huge part in this dark story, as the Muslim girl is seen as a potential new incubator for family and it’s an opportune time as the girl herself is pregnant. The other deformed children run around the site like ghoulish freaks. There’s a Lot of blood and lot of gore and bodies are sliced in half and hung on hooks, people are just mere flesh. While the film revolves around motherhood and racial tensions, it speaks volumes for the strength French women and for dangers of keeping your inbred children couped up in the basement 9/10
Famed to being one of the most gruesome and complicated of the new style of film. A young girl escapes a cult bruised and battered she is taken into care, making friends with another orphan she returns to wipe out the cult who abducted her as kid, the cult who’s main objective is to torture women as they are able to reach a state of Nirvana (?) and are able to communicate directly with God, dispatch her and captures her best friend to be the next one to be inducted into the programme, the final half of the movie is just layers and layers of torture both mental and physical, they literally have a schedule and team who’s round the clock duties are to break this girl down into the next Martyr very bloody, and sometimes a little hard to watch but definitely one of my ultimate favourite French Canadian films.. 10/10
A slow burner this time, and a more sentimental(?) deranged killer. A young couple experience a terrible traffic accident, leaving the patriarch dead, his distraught pregnant girlfriend tries to get on with her life but decides to move after a series of disturbing phone calls from a woman demanding repayment from her. On one terrifying Christmas eve while heavily pregnant the stalker decides to up their game with a giant pair of scissors to claim her inside payment. Julien Maury proves that he can deliver a seriously anxious noir horror and co-star Beatrice Dalle is spectacular. 8/10
Probably a film I can identify with, it’s title translates as 7 days of retaliation. A young girl is kidnaped, molested and murdered; the killer is a massive jerk and is almost proud for what he did, so the father, a talented surgeon sets out for revenge. He apprehends the killer on his way to prison, hiding out in his hunting cabin he spends a week torturing the man in unspeakable fashion, at first they are at loggerheads but his anger and depravity increases, he seeks solace in another victim’s parent and slowly unravels. It’s very dark both in atmosphere and nature. But a lot of parents especially those who’ve had children abused or killed have probably dreamt of getting their hands on the culprit. 9/10
A romantic nightmare with buckets of blood. A young girl is stalked by a mysterious psychotic killer while visiting her friend’s family in rural France. The killer remains hot on the trail of the girl as she witnesses him killing her hosts family and then kidnapping her friend, while travelling across country the killing spree finally sparks the interest of the local police but it’s up to the young lonely frightened girl to fight off this blood thirsty pest but all is not as it seems. A stunning movie with an blistering soundtrack that really took my by surprise, the twisted blood soaked ending it violent and the film will always remain a prized possession in my collection. Love never hurt so much… 10/10
The original title translates as It happened near your home(?) Everything about this film touches on a subject that people often find really annoying about cinema, it’s found footage, it’s black and white, it has subtitles and it’s about a psychotic racist maniac.. (for me these are the best attributes of cinema.. ) but it’s truly outstanding! It’s so realistic and the killer is a pro, often killing on a whim to show off his techniques. There are graphic scenes of strangulation chasing down kills to be slaughtered, bludgeoning you name it, he goes through it all as a intriguing fill crew follows him about often getting involved in his drunken binges and cleaning up after the murders. It has a stark and cold ending that really closes off a mad chapter of Beligan cinema. 10/10
One of those highly talked about movies between teen boys, naughty enough to intrigue but really it’s a couple of posies on a kill spree, for the time it was shocking enough to be banned, now it’s a bit tamer but still worth a mention as it held it’s head high a modern video nasty for a while. A couple of girls have enough of being treated as meat and go on a Thelma and Louise kill spree it’s graphic over sexed but the acting is a bit dull. It sparked a lot of good things and has earned my respect but the re watch ability isn’t great, maybe Tommy Wiesau can do a remake? 4/10
I was left wondering what the hell had gone on after watching this for the first time. Vincent Cassell co-stars (twice) in this obscure dark drama a group of kids head into the backwater French countryside to make out and hang out, they find the locals are a bit strange but that’s just scratching the surface of this cult like freakish village who are looking for certain items from the new comers, at first the signs are just slightly odd, but soon they are all running for their lives or at least they are trying to save their body parts from being assimilated into something for the antichrist. 8/10
Vincent Cassell co-stars in this ad libbed jerky camera movie that plays in reverse starting with a violent ending slowing down to a peaceful ending. The director; Gaspar Noé just gave the actors a treatment as a guide and let them lose, some scenes are tripped up with people trying to get Vincent attention and end up calling him by his real name but it’s a very minor blip in comparison with the marvellous film with the longest sexual assault scene that made it onto the big screen, this led to the films popularity and many comments and fans. The techniques are all very strange and make for some wonderful cinema, starting off in club rectum the camera spins wildly and the dizzying effect is off putting but it begins to slow down and it can take a while to realise that everything is running backwards, but it’s intense and sharp. 8/10
Personally I hate when someone writes a top 10 list and then lists about 30 items afterwards but I feel this needs to be added as an honourable mention, not only is a superb film which fits into this category and I feel it should be mentioned now..
Honorable Mention ..
Marc Stevens is a entertainer spending his days travelling around old folks homes with his casio keyboard and shiny cape entertaining the old dears who adore him and throw themselves at him.. while travelling home for Christmas he gets lost, his van breaks down and he seeks a bed and meal at a lonely inn run by a lonely man.. Bartel.. the biggest mistake of his life. He finds out just how bat-schit-crazy the inbreeds in the Ardennes area can be, but alas it’s too late, Bartel wants to make him into his wife and a rival lover is determined to take him by force, meanwhile a local guy is searching for Bella, his dog, that turns out to be a cow.. it’s a very gloomy and irregular film with some scenes which don’t make sense but add some unreal fear into the movie, and this makes it one of my all time favourites, especially for the penguin dance scene in the local bar.. it’s pure genius! 10/10