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First of all I wanted to see "Tracking" aka "Ghost Soldier" by Pierre
B. Reinhard badly for many years. IMDb's synopsis sounded extremely
sleazy: "Four teenage girls are terrorized by the ghost of a sex-mad
American soldier who wants to rape them." Can't be bad. Ghostly rapist
in army fatigues, sexual violence and teenage girls showing their naked
Lisa, Natalie and Stephanie are teenage girls who are staying in a huge mansion of Lisa's parents. Aunt Christina takes care of them. But during the absence of Christina three girls begin to have sexual hallucinations of phantom soldier raping and abusing them. Lisa is raped with a champagne bottle, Natalie is attacked with a razor, etc. Mysterious ghost soldier is everywhere. He writes "Sex Is Life" on the mirror in Natalie's bedroom. He is never satisfied and carefully stalks his youthful and fertile prey. He is the figment of aroused imagination.
"Tracking" offers plenty of sleazy atmosphere, a bit of nudity and very intriguing concept of sexual awakening. The scenes of sexual violence are implied and suggestive, though. The first person perspective of the stalker and his heavy breathing reminded me various American slasher movies. The storyline is hardly coherent and the characters are truly psychotic. They are suffering from paranoia and erotic Folie à deux. The score is quite atmospheric and several scenes are quite unsettling and unnerving. However don't expect outrageously repulsive exploitation sickie - "Ghost Soldier" is a subtle flick with memorably vile central concept. 8 paratroopers out of 10.
My copy has Spanish-dubbed dialog and English subtitles. It runs 77 minutes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
TRACKING, which should have been titled "Stalking" in English, is an
intriguing but ultimately flawed psychological horror film concerning
crazy young girls. Porno director Pierre Reinhard tries but isn't up to
the task of fashioning a coherent narrative.
Opening sequence, following driving footage on the road, is the best as three young women Lisa, Stephanie and Natalie look through the sights of their rifle, from an upstairs window at Lisa's family mansion. Red herring of the trio being thrill killers is introduced but quickly abandoned.
Instead Reinhard, working from a script by Jean-Philippe Berger, develops a storyline of all three girls being crazy, each having hallucinations of being raped. They talk of one's dad and his experiences in the Algerian war, and immediately we see a paratrooper in camouflage gear raping Lisa.
Each girl is abused in turn by this mystery guy, with the most explicit sequence (which Reinhard repeats later in its entirety) being the stalker violently tearing off buxom Natalie's clothes in a shower and threatening her with a razor.
With Lisa's parents away (they phone up from time to time), the girls are in the care of Lisa's aunt Christina. In the opening scene they shoot out one of her car tires with their rifle, and later they blame her (pointlessly) for their predicament with the rapist, tying Christina up in the basement in bondage. Lisa, who reports that she was raped with a champagne bottle, prepares to rape Christina with said bottle herself, but the phantom interrupts. In fact, Reinhard (who made many XXX films with extremely explicit and kinky content in the '70s and '80s), doesn't show any hardcore sex here, teasing the viewer.
The biggest tease is his showing us frequent depictions of the phantom attacking the girls, when it is apparent right from the beginning that they are imagining it all -they even admit amongst themselves that they're crazy and it's not real. But in horror terms, their paranoia is real, and they react to the hallucinations as if they were really happening.
After a four-month interval, Lisa is seeing a shrink, who not too surprisingly turns into the phantom and tries to rape her during a session. At the finale a narrator intones that everything we've seen "is real", Christina has ended up in an insane asylum, and similar case histories occurred elsewhere in Europe and in the U.S. Open ending has the paratrooper stalking a new victim.
Reinhard experiments with the gimmick of extensive first-person camera-work, putting the viewer in the position of the stalker. He does not show the faces of the phantom or the shrink on screen, and all the five protagonists (including Christina and a pesky next-door neighbor) are women. This has the makings of an interesting premise, but the violent scenes are staged and edited randomly, a sloppy approach perhaps leftover from his porn career where no one cares about such matters.
The girls have attractive bodies making for some softcore appeal here. IMDb incorrectly lists 1981 as the film's release date, but the Spanish-dubbed video copy I watched had a 1986 copyright, and indeed, in Lisa's bedroom next to a PRIVATE BENJAMIN poster is a one-sheet for the 1984 movie CODE NAME: WILD GEESE spotlighting Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine and Klaus Kinski.
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