When Steve from Anti-Film School asked me if I wanted to contribute a list of my five favourite movie monsters the first thought that came to mind was Toho. I did a month-long feature on the Japanese production company Toho and covered a few of the studios monster flicks. It would be pretty simple to compile a list of five of my favourite Toho monsters. Godzilla was the first horror film I ever loved. If it is easy it isn’t worth doing, right? Who the hell said that anyway? I thought I should challenge myself and at the same time come up with five titles that were lesser known. What variety of monster seems to get less love? By Georgette; I’ve got it! Female monsters! I am bringing the “girl” in Goregirl to the table for my favourite movie monster list; Cinq Monstres Féminins (Five Female Monsters).
Cinq Monstres Féminins
Delphine Seyrig as COUNTESS BATHORY in Harry Kümel’s 1971 film DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS.
A newly married couple’s lives are forever changed after meeting a countess while staying at a beautiful old hotel.
…THE SEDUCTIVE MONSTER…
I could have easily filled this list with five female vampires. There are countless brilliant performances in the sub-genre by women. The sexy, smart, seductive female vampire. Both men and women fall under her spell and oh, what a way to go! One of the absolute sexiest, smartest and most seductive of them all is the immensely talented Delphine Seyrig’s Countess Bathory. The infamous Countess Elizabeth Báthory who allegedly tortured and killed hundreds of women and bathed in their blood to maintain her youth. The Countess arrives with her assistant as the sun is setting at the nearly abandoned hotel; only the newlyweds to keep her company. She quickly acquaints herself with the couple and sweet sadism soon follows. Daughters Of Darkness is a sexy, stylish and psychological trip where violence and eroticism reign. The beautiful locations adds an old world charm to the contemporary setting as does its Countess. Countess Bathory seems to have come from another time, another century perhaps. As sophisticated as she is nasty; a chic, sexual, hungry beast. Delphine Seyrig is outstanding as the sophisticated, powerful and brutal creature. One of the most elegant movie monsters of all time; Seyrig is a class act.
Aurora Bautista as MARTA and Esperanza Roy as VERONICA in Eugenio Martín’s 1973 film A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL.
Marta and Veronica run an inn in a tiny Spanish village where sexy, young female guests check in but don’t check out.
…THE RELIGIOUS MONSTER…
Marta and Veronica are two sisters with repressive attitudes guided by religious principles who believe they are doing god’s work. At least that is what Marta, the more dominant of the two believes. Marta takes the accidental death of a female tourist tanning topless on their rooftop as a sign that they are to punish women of loose morals. Veronica is the subservient sister and goes along with Marta regardless of her comfort level. Veronica is having an affair with a young man who works for them and is twenty years her junior. She refuses to get completely undressed during these trysts for <em>moral reasons</em>. Marta has no such outlet for her sexual frustrations and was once engaged to be married until her fiancée ran off with a younger woman. Marta is a severe woman who is not easy to like. Is she a monster though? Blinded by her jealousy and hatred for other women she uses religion as an excuse to murder. Despite Veronica also being blinded by her religion (and an accomplice to her sister’s crimes) it is clear she is not comfortable with Marta’s decisions. The sisters are a fascinating pair and their escapades are complimented by all manner of religious imagery and expression. In one of my favourite scenes, Marta is spying on some young men swimming and runs guilty through thorny bushes arriving home lashed, bleeding and breathless; frantically she washes and scrubs the sin from her flesh. Aurora Bautista and Esperanza Roy who plays Marta and Veronica do one hell of a job! Although these are two huge personalities they are played with a great deal of restraint. A Candle for the Devil is stylishly filmed with gorgeous scenery but it is all about the sisters who use their religion as an excuse to murder nubile young beauties who are unfortunate enough to end up as guests in their inn.
Meredyth Herold as DAUGHTER and Michele Valley as MOTHER in Nikos Nikolaidis’ 1990 film SINGAPORE SLING.
A private eye is searching for a woman named Laura, and follows the trail to the home of an incestuous, sadomasochistic mother and daughter team.
…THE SEXUALLY DEPRAVED MONSTER…
If ever a film deserved the tag of polarizing it is Nikos Nikolaidis’ 1990 film Singapore Sling. There is more unsavory sex acts in this thing than you can shake a stick at. The comedy and the black and white photography do take some of the edge off, but I doubt this film is going to be palatable for most people. The women are killers, but they are far more interested in exploring the lines between pain and pleasure. Prepare yourself for shock therapy, water torture, golden showers, vomit orgasms and excessive amounts of masturbation. Mother looks like a silent movie star and has a flare for dramatics. She speaks her dialog in French and translates herself in English. Despite Daughter‘s actions she comes off as slightly naive and is in a constant state of pre-orgasm. Singapore Sling is partially narrated and Mother and Daughter often speak directly to the camera. Mother and Daughter are pleasure monsters. They will do anything in the name of sating themselves regardless of the results. They torture each other and the male guests who end up in their home. Mother and Daughter are definitely the most sexually depraved monsters on this list. Mother played by Michele Valley and Daughter played by Meredyth Herold both give bold and fascinating performances. They are monsters of a different variety; a delightful mix of degenerate and class. You’ll be glad the film is black and white (it is a really great looking film also) as there is stuff on display here that you would not want to see in color.
Béatrice Dalle as LA FEMME in Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s 2007 film INSIDE.
A woman about to give birth is terrorized in her home by a mysterious psychotic woman.
…THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS MONSTER…
Béatrice Dalle is the mysterious psychotic woman. Her intentions are simple; to take by force the baby inside of her victims stomach. La Femme as she is noted in the credits, is just straight up nuts. She kills a lot of people and barely breaks a sweat over it. Sarah the woman due to give birth unsurprisingly receives some visitors and La Femme barely seems phased by it. Oh well, more people to kill. She doesn’t care who she kills and she doesn’t care how many. She doesn’t really even go to any trouble to be careful about the whole business. She is tough, relentless, brutal and extremely sober for a woman who is completely and utterly psychotic. Béatrice Dalle is a talented and appealing actress who is a fascination to watch. Dalle’s performance is easily one of the most driven and brutal portraits of a psycho I’ve seen in a film from the past 20 years. Watching a very pregnant woman being terrorized is nasty business but the audacity of showing the action from the fetus point of view wins it a whole lot of extra respect. This however is Dalle’s movies, she owns it like she owns that adorable little fetus in Sarah’s belly.
Nobuko Otowa as YONE and Kiwako Taichi as SHIGE in Kaneto Shindô’s 1968 film KURONEKO.
Yone and her daughter-in-law Shige are gang raped, murdered and their home set ablaze by a group of samurai. The women return from the dead as vengeful spirits whose sole purpose is to kill and drink the blood of every last samurai.
…THE VENGEANCE MONSTER…
Kuroneko takes place during wartime and its opening scene illustrates the brutality of the period. The way the samurai swarm the women’s home was like wild animals stalking their prey. Once inside they raid the home of food and then each one takes their turn raping the women. The horrific scene is a strong argument for the women’s revenge but negotiating with the spirit world comes with a high price. The women are the focus of every shot. Their light ethereal appearance made everything around them appear darker. Kuroneko’s dream-like visuals are enhanced by beautiful and subtle touches like Yone’s slow rhythmic dance and Shige’s cat-like attacks. Kiwako Taichi is bewitching as Shige. Bound by her pact, Shige is a seductive and vicious spirit but the woman she once was lingers inside. Nobuko Otowa is superb as Yone. Yone is a strong, serious spirit who methodically goes about her rituals. Her unusual eye makeup gave her an appropriately menacing appearance. Yone seems to have considerably less connection to who she was and is more the vicious for it. Revenge is rarely sweet. Kaneto Shindô directed another film focusing on a pair of women during wartime called Onibaba which I highly recommend you check out if you enjoy Kuroneko; the two are great companion pieces.
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