Spirits Of The Dead (Histoires Extraordinaires) (1968)

LOUIS MALLE, ROGER VADIM, FEDERICO FELLINI

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

France/Italy, 1968.  , .  Screenplay by Roger Vadim, , Louis Malle, , , Federico Fellini, , based on the stories Metzengerstein, William Wilson, Never Bet The Devil Your Head by .  Cinematography by , , . Produced by .  Music by , , .  Production Design by , . Costume Design by , Piero Tosi, Ghislain Uhry, .  Film Editing by , , , .  

Three of the world’s most famous and celebrated directors get together to make a film based on Edgar Allan Poe stories, and together they do not accomplish much worth remembering. The first segment, “Metzengerstein”, is directed by Roger Vadim and stars Jane Fonda as a sadistic medieval aristocrat whose fascination, passion and hatred for another nobleman (an incestuously cast Peter Fonda) leads her to burn down his property and kill him in the process. Following his death, a black stallion shows up at her castle and she suspects it is his spirit returned for her companionship. Louis Malle directs the second story, “William Wilson”, about a vain soldier () who meets a man identical to him and longs to kill him for pride. The third tale, directed by Federico Fellini and based on “Toby Dammit”, is the best of the three, with Terence Stamp as a movie star who has just arrived in Rome to play Christ in a Biblical western, and all the while is constantly haunted by visions of the devil as a little girl with a big yellow bouncing ball. “Dammit” has more life than the other two, and Stamp is haunting in the role, but compared with Fellini’s best work it is a shabby little film. Diehard Poe fans will definitely not want to ruin their appreciation of their beloved author by enduring this dull trilogy.

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