While traveling in Auvergne, two young women, Anna and Françoise, unwillingly venture into the realm of Morgane, the Fairy Queen. Now, to go on living throughout the centuries, Morgane must obtain the souls of the ladies who cross her kingdom. To those who accept her pact she gives eternal youth and beauty. As for the ones that object to it, she lets them rot in the dungeons of the castle. Anna signs the pact but not Françoise, determined to escape the all-female lesbian community of the Fairy's court... Written by
GIRL SLAVES OF MORGANA LE FEY (Bruno Gantillon, 1971) ***
Inspired by the exploits of the famous witch found in Arthurian legends, this film has an appropriately medieval feel to it - not least because of its authentic castle setting and the evocative score by Francois de Roubaix (using the pseudonym Cisco El Rubio!). While it was sold as exploitation on the strength of its copious nudity (the mostly female cast also entailing lesbianism), the script - where characterization is given its due, which is more than can be said for most "Euro-Cult" titles! - is surprisingly literate. In this respect - not to mention having the titular character's dungeon crammed with a bevy of mostly willing slaves! - the film anticipated the "Elizabeth Bathory" segment in Walerian Borowczyk's IMMORAL TALES (1974). Speaking of Bathory, Dominique Delpierre's Morgana here actually reminded me of that character as incarnated by Delphine Seyrig in DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971) - which, incidentally, was also scored by De Roubaix!
The sustained dream-like mood here results in a languorous pace, which is actually typical of low-budget fantasy films made in France during this time: its main purveyors were Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, but Gantillon's effort is ample proof that others (whose career wasn't as prolific and, consequently, faded into obscurity) were, at least, equally adept at this sort of thing; though it often descended into camp - which the title under review here, thankfully, doesn't! - Michel Lemoine's SEVEN WOMEN FOR Satan (1974), incidentally also a Mondo Macabro release, is another one of its kind I enjoyed a good deal.
Besides, the film's production values (primarily - and economically - utilizing natural resources), accentuated by Jean Monsigny's odd framing, impart the film with an effortless classiness not usually found in lowbrow "Euro-Cult" ventures. That said, the lengthy feast/lesbian orgy towards the end stops the film dead in its tracks and the unresolved ending may seem like a cop-out (though I took it as merely another bizarre touch in a movie filled with unconventional detail).
With respect to casting, this too appears to have received some uncommon consideration: the sinister-looking Alfred Baillou is memorable as Morgana's love-struck (yet jealous) dwarf henchman!; Delpierre (who is able to materialize wherever she pleases, as is demonstrated in the final moments of the film) and Regine Motte (as one of her three favored nymphs endowed with psychic powers: in fact, one of the most striking scenes in the film is when they relate to Morgana the movements of the fleeing heroine beyond the castle walls - which is shown in a form of stylized choreography) are the loveliest of the six leading ladies, but also the most able performers.
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