Thursday, July 9, 2009

Screen & Audio Captures of the Day - La Residencia

I actually bought an $8.99 Elvira-themed double DVD (rel. 2007) so that I could watch La Residencia (1969, aka The House That Screamed [crappy Int'l title., -ed.]), a film that has been on my must-see list for many years. Fortunately, a "Play Movie Only" option is offered on the DVD, so one can see the movie minus the Mistress' drop-ins of groaner, fake-bosom shtick.

I knew this would be a cut above the Euro-sleaze I often watch, as seven years after La Residencia, director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador also made the artfully rendered creepy-kids drama Who Can Kill a Child?, so it wasn't too surprising when La Residencia turned out to be a smart, viciously odd, well-made hunk of lurid cinema.

At a 19th-century "finishing" school for wayward girls, set in the French countryside, it quickly becomes apparent that any appearance of propriety is deceptive: the headmistress is a tyrannical sadist; the headmistress' teenage son is a peeping tom; and the girls themselves are drawing lots to see who gets a weekly visit in the barn with the local woodsman.

Despite such a lack of innocence, there's a definite "proper-film" Hammer vibe to La Residencia (with a good rinse through scandalous, Suspiria-like vibes.) There's an icky "shock" ending, too—ultimately not so shocking perhaps—but with La Residencia, it's getting there that amounts to more than half the fun.

>>>Download choice audio: La Residencia - The Killing of Theresa

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