5.6/10
244
7 user 6 critic

Leonor (1975)

A female vampire rises from her crypt every night in search of children as her victims.

Director:

Juan Luis Buñuel
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Piccoli ... Richard
Liv Ullmann ... Leonor
Ornella Muti ... Catherine
Antonio Ferrandis ... Thomas
José María Prada
Ángel del Pozo ... Chaplain
José Guardiola
George Rigaud ... Catherine's father (as Jorge Rigaud)
José María Caffarel ... Doctor
Piero Vida Piero Vida
Tito García
Francisco Nieto Francisco Nieto ... (as Paco Nieto)
José Moreno
Carmen Maura
Ana Gasber Ana Gasber
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Storyline

Richard is a medieval nobleman. After his first wife dies in an accident and is buried in the family vault, he remarries and has children by his second wife. A mad longing for his first wife Leonor comes over him, and he sells his soul to the devil for a chance to get her back. But when she returns, she is a murderous vampire. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Fantasy | Drama | Horror

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Spain | France | Italy

Language:

French

Release Date:

September 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mistress of the Devil See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (dubbed)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
LEONOR (Juan Luis Bunuel, 1975) **1/2
6 November 2010 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Being an arty example of horror (much more so, in fact, than the same director's poltergeist-themed EXPULSION OF THE DEVIL [1973]), this medieval tale revolving around a Satanic pact that results in resurrection and a spate of vampire killings was considered too atypical for either sensibility and consequently fell through the cracks over the years; then again, such disparaging remarks by popular critics as Leonard Maltin – who labeled it "idiotic", even awarding the film his dreaded (but undeserved) BOMB rating – has not helped the chances for a proper reappraisal much! Indeed, most seemed to be of the same opinion as it prematurely terminated the director's career in mainstream cinema – he would go on to make just one more feature-length film in 1986, an obscure Western entitled THE REBELLION OF THE HANGED – and was restricted to work exclusively in TV thereafter!

Though the film is a Spanish/Italian/French co-production, the copy I acquired was mostly dubbed in English with the occasional lapse into Italian (actually, I had first watched it eons ago on late-night TV in the latter language). The presence of Michel Piccoli and Liv Ullman drew obvious parallels with the works of Bunuel's own more renowned father and Ingmar Bergman respectively; the obsessive love lasting beyond the grave shared by the protagonists and the general sense of godlessness on display was clearly up the Spanish Surrealist's alley, while the character-driven downbeat nature of the whole is akin to the austere Swede's chamber dramas.

Ornella Muti co-stars as Piccoli's young and lovely second wife who, failing to replace his affection for Ullman, the inconsolable husband coldly eliminates and disposes of. The wanderer-cum-devil he meets soon after was similarly featured in this guise in the contemporaneous ALUCARDA (1975), where he was played by Claudio Brook (a Bunuel Snr. regular!); here, he tells Piccoli that he can bring back his former spouse but asks him to let her rest in peace – naturally, our hero thinks only of himself, and Ullman's return has serious repercussions on both their lives and that of the entire community.

The vampirism angle is not rendered explicit and even abruptly handled: no sooner has Leonor re-awakened – the ten-year period is itself seen passing at the bat of an eyelid – that there are a dozen or so kids missing from the village (the inference being that she drains them of blood); in fact, she at first rejects Piccoli's advances but, once she has been nourished, feels quite ready to express passion – this recalls the Sadean credo perhaps best exemplified by the horror classic THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932), when Count Zaroff states something to the effect of "Kill, then love – only then will you have known true ecstasy!". The Inquisition/plague elements which come into play during the latter stages also tie LEONOR to THE MONK (1972), adapted by the elder Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carriere (who also co-wrote this) from Matthew Gregory Lewis's classic novel; incidentally, the protagonists' children here are named after that particular author!

Apart from the afore-mentioned Muti, there are three other notable Italian credits – screenwriter Bernardino Zapponi (who was just coming off Dario Argento's DEEP RED [1975]), as well as cinematographer Luciano Tovoli and composer Ennio Morricone, both of whose contribution is essential to the film's stunning recreation of a distant and harsh past. Still, if the film does not emerge a complete success, it is because of the rather unsympathetic characterization of the central figures (the boorish Piccoli in particular), a general lack of incident (as already mentioned, the introspection and feeling of dread would have doubtless gained from a better exposition detailing Piccoli's solitude and Ullman's depredations) and the fact that, frankly, it seems not to have much idea how to end (after being lured into a trap by the locals, the female bloodsucker escapes and makes it back home, where she kills one of her former husband's children and even seems to attack Piccoli but, now presumably afflicted himself, the two of them take off on horseback, one suspects, to spread the vampire plague even further: as with the two versions of NOSFERATU {1922 and 1979}, this much-abused horror device is equated with an all-pervasive - and very real - disease).


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