5.5/10
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1 user 2 critic

Erotic Witchcraft (1972)

La goulve (original title)
Axel, the magician, raises a boy into adulthood. When Axel dies, it's the young man - son of a murderer, and well tutored by a magician - to keep on the tradition of guarding the Daughter of the Golem.

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, (co-director)

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(adaptation), (adaptation)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Hervé Hendrickx ...
Raymond
César Torres ...
Constant
Anne Varèze ...
Nadine
Marie-Ange Saint Clair ...
La Goulve
Maïka Simon ...
Agnès
Bepi Fontana ...
L'ivrogne
Wilfrid Chetteoui ...
Le mage
Félix Cuziberto ...
Le père
Manuel Nave ...
Raymond enfant
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Storyline

Axel, the magician, raises a boy into adulthood. When Axel dies, it's the young man - son of a murderer, and well tutored by a magician - to keep on the tradition of guarding the Daughter of the Golem.

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Release Date:

26 July 1972 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Erotic Witchcraft  »

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(Eastmancolor)
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"Weird, French Crap"
30 August 2006 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

OK so LA GOULVE is an ultra-low budget hypermegaobscure French horror/fantasy/exploitation thriller made in 1971 -- around the same time as the similarly themed GIRL SLAVES OF MORGANA LEFAY, and part of a larger sex & satanism sub-genre affinity that thrived until the late 1970's -- by a French director named Mario Mercier who made a grand total of two movies in his career, both of which are considered minor cult masterpieces in the movie nerd underground. Since most of us never get to make any movies, that's a pretty good track record.

LA GOULVE is a weird film. It is also a French film, with French people speaking French words that I do not understand. So pardon me if I act a bit bemused and admit that if it wasn't for a couple of quick foreign language summaries I could copy paste into Babelfish for a translation (quote: "The film composed often there comes to combine purple monkey dishwasher eroticism and acid, cheap and trip.") I would have absolutely no idea what is going on here. The IMDb's own summary is more helpful: A kindly elderly magician/alchemist takes a young orphan under his wing. The boy is the sole survivor of a family decimated by murder & suicide, is taunted by the other boys, and grows up to be a young man who resembles Nick Cave crossed with that freaky pervert from Thailand who didn't kill JonBenet after all (SURPRISE SURPRISE!!). After the old man passes on to the great fetish shelf in the sky the young dork realizes he is having some kind of gender issue which makes him run in terror from topless, soaking wet French babes with really great headlights who would like to purple monkey dishwasher with him. This is a guy with ISSUES. For reasons that my lack of French comprehension probably missed he decides to invite a comely young relative to stay with him and act as an unwitting supplicant in a bizarre gender bender occult ritual involving snakes, a strange outburst of suction cups on his gender bender alter ego's body, shards of broken mirror, lots of whisps of colored smoke, some blood, and plenty of weird Feramin type electronic music. The point of which is to allow himself to be possessed by the soul of a female Golem (!!) and seek some sort of sexual fulfillment.

Once more for effect: This is a very bizarre movie. A second couple also get involved and the movie's most effective scene is a dream sequence experienced by the male party who at one point finds his lover's severed face lying in a field next to various dissected parts of her anatomy. He then finds he can remove his own face as well. And while I believe he was one of the boys who used to beat up the orphaned warlock for kicks at the beginning of the film I am not sure if this is all just a twisted form of revenge upon him for being a jerk or simply an indication of a small town where everyone knows everybody else. Since the movie is in French and Babelfish about as useful as translating bodies of text as my cat it will remain an enigma until the next time Pete Tombs talks about EROTIC WITCHCRAFT in an interview.

Pete Tombs is of course one of the founders of BOUM Entertainment, Pagan Films and Mondo Macabro, famous for his "Eurotica" series on cult erotic horror/exploitation films, and the only reason I was aware of this film was due to a footnote mention in his "Immoral Tales" book on the same subject. Curiously, upon glancing over the text one realizes that Mr. Tombs himself does not provide much substance on what this film is about, leading me to suspect that he doesn't speak French either. We'll cut Pete some slack: He's a great guy and provided me with some additional information on the film during an email correspondence a couple years back. LA GOULVE was filmed on 16mm by mostly amateurs and upon completion at the premier screening one of the actresses (I think I can guess which one) freaked out at what she saw, complained to authorities, had the film banned under French obscenity laws & the print confiscated. The only known surviving document of what it was is a shaky, color faded SECAM converted dupe of a non-professionally executed full frame transfer bobbing around the underground film nerd community ... which is probably where movies like this belong. We don't care, you see.

Amongst the initiated now, I can say "Yes, I have seen LA GOULVE, but will be damned if I know what it was about". But I can also say that the film does have something going on that is quite interesting. The film is reckless, eager to see what it could do, or rather if it could do what it set out to achieve even if the results looked a bit silly. In that regards I can sort of agree with one online reviewer's comments that it had all the qualities of an Ed Wood film crossed with Jean Rollin on a really bad week. It is demonstratively arty at times, lacking dialog (helpful for non-French viewers, I guess), filled with oblique symbolism, has that utterly surreal dream sequence, a curious agenda about gender + sexuality, and eyebrow raising ritualistic ceremonies involving the bared breasts of pretty French actresses. In other words, there are worse ways one can spend 90 minutes of their time, plus you get a merit badge & a cookie for just being able to say you've seen it.

6/10; Worthy of a restoration if Pete ever gets around to it.


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