Halloween Horror Marathon: The Living Dead Girl

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Each week, Halloween Horror Marathon does some themed posts. We sleep in on Sundays, then watch a zombie flick. We call it Resurrection Sundays. This week, we look at the French “zombie” film The Living Dead Girl.

Rob Zombie associations aside, this French zombie film is worth watching simply to experience how horror can mean different things to different cultures. Jean Rollin’s film has certain things with which I’m readily familiar, like the slow pace of Italian films and the hazy hallucinatory aspects of Spanish cinema, but at its heart, this is really a love story.

A love story with gouts and gouts of blood, and a living dead girl who’s a thirst for it, granted, but a love story nonetheless. It’s one of two excellently-acted horror roles by Marina Pierro, coming fast on the heels of her role in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne the year before. Much like Miss Osbourne in that film, Pierro’s role of Helene sees Pierro going to great lengths to accommodate the object of her love. In both cases, killing and sexual desire find themselves intertwined.

When Catherine tears a woman apart, her cries of agony and last gasps sound very near to the passionate responses of the realtor and her lover earlier in the film. Given the alternate views of gore and skin — and, regularly, blood-soaked nude women — it’s difficult to see where Rollin’s blurry line of desire changes from lust to hunger.

The repeated switching between French and English requires an attentive viewer, unless said viewer is bilingual. It’s worth your undivided attention, however, as this is an absolutely gorgeous film, both visually, and in terms of the strength of how love can triumph in spite of death.

The Living Dead Girl can be had on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Films, which features an interview with the director.