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Camille Keaton (best known for "I Spit on Your Grave") stars as Jane, one of four young people who run out of gas and are forced to spend the night at Lord Alexander's mansion. But Alexander and his wife are into some diabolical games -- Jane is hand-picked as a "virgin sacrifice". A ruckus ensues and the second half of the film has the gang of four trying to hide from police when they feel they might be implicated i na murder.
This film, more properly titled "From the Secret Police Archives of a European Capital" is considered by some to be a cult classic. I don't know why. It has some things going for it -- Camille Keaton, who is alluring in a strange way (she shouldn't be attractive but in some scenes has such an innocent face). Some of the deaths are incredible, such as a head split in two (though this is diminished when they flash back eight times). And the makeup is astounding, particularly on Camille later in the film (I won't give this away... wait for it).
But, overall, the film is nothing special. The camera work is awful ("shaky cam" all the time), the editing is very rough, with cuts tat don't line up right. And other than five minutes at Lord Alexander's mansion and the last few minutes, it's a boring plot. Mostly just kids sitting around and we're not really told their relationship to each other (Jane seems to be dating all of them). Oh, and plot holes. Who is the mysterious man at Bill's mother's house? What's the story with the pearls? Even the "twist" revealed later on has some hard-to-believe elements in it. Maybe I need to see it again, but I found most of this to be just a bit bland.
The best and worst of the film is with the gas station attendant. On the plus side, we have a gas station encounter leading to a murderous house. I have often given "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" credit for starting this trend, but this film has a contentious claim to it as well. Someone should explore the history of this more. Why is this also the worst? Because the attendant is said to be "a relative of the devil" or "a ghost" but this is never explained. If the writer of this film lives, I need to track him down and beat him until he gives me answers.
After these complaints, you'll be surprised to see me saying that you should see this film. But, if you like "cult films", Camille Keaton, old Italian movies or the 1970s approach to horror, this is a good title to be aware of. I do think it deserves a second chance from me... Oh ,and don't try to play the smoking game to this one (smoking whenever characters smoke) because you'll lose.
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