Tuesday, December 8, 2009

La tête froide (1970)

... aka: Cold Head, The
... aka: Deuxième partie

Directed by:
Patrick Hella

Shots of a car speeding down the road are intercut with kinky sex flashes (a woman with a whip rides a guy, for instance). Then the car crashes into a tree, the male driver (Christian Chaix) is decapitated and the bloody, injured female ("Marie Laurence" / Marie-Paule Mailleux) scoops up his head and returns to her home. There, she cleans herself and the head off, prepares dinner for herself and the head, buys the head a Ken Doll to keep it company, puts the head on a mannequin's body and then has a series of strange hallucinations, which include having sex with her bloodied lover, dancing in a room by herself with a spotlight, etc. Things culminate in her having sex with the head and then throwing it into the trash bin.

Although this seems to have been somewhat inspired by Repulsion (1965), right down to the sound of a clock ticking during one scene, it's also somewhat interesting as a boundary-pushing precursor to such later films as Lamberto Bava's Frozen Terror (1980), which also featured a couple getting involved in a car crash and the woman bringing the severed head home to make love to, as well as Re-Animator (1985), which turns out to not be the first movie with a disembodied head, uh, going down on a woman. There's no dialogue, technically-speaking it's pretty rough around the edges and it runs just 13-minutes (a scene with fellow underground Belgian filmmaker Roland Lethem, future Jess Franco movie regular Jean-Pierre Bouyxou and others was removed).

After making many short experimental films, Hella made a few documentaries and would go on to become a prolific casting director for such films as Duplicity (2005) and In Bruges (2008). Leading lady Mailleux appeared in several other shorts (including some for the same director), landed a small supporting role in José Ramón Larraz's Cannes-nominated psychological horror film SYMPTOMS (1974) and then disappeared promptly afterward (IMDb states that she died in 1999 while living in India).

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