Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Coming of Sin (1978)

Spanish director José Larraz cemented his place in the pantheon of eurohorror/eurosleaze greats with his 1974 British film Vampyres. Which is a great movie, but the word most frequently used to describe Larraz’s career is erratic. His 1978 Spanish production The Coming of Sin (also released as Violation of the Bitch) encapsulates his strengths and weaknesses pretty well.

He sold the idea to a producer as a kind of Spanish Emmanuelle with gypsies and horses but in fact the resemblances to Emmanuelle are almost non-existent. The Coming of Sin is an erotic fever dream psychological thriller.

Lorna, a wealthy female Spanish painter, is asked by a friend to look after her gypsy servant girl for a while while she’s travelling abroad. The girl, Triana, has been troubled by nightmares. Lorna doesn’t worry too much about this until the next morning when she finds Triana taking a pot shot at an intruder with a shotgun. The intruder is a naked young man on a horse who is trampling Lorna’s flower beds. Triana informs Lorna that this is the young man from her dreams.

Lorna sees the man as well, raising the question as to whether he’s really a figure from a nightmare, or whether Lorna and Triana are sharing a dream. They’re definitely sharing a bed. Triana regards the young man (whose name is Chico) with a mixture of fear and desire - she is convinced that if they become lovers someone will die. Lorna regards him with pure desire. She likes the idea of a nice little ménage à trois. She paints her two objects of desire, enjoying the sexual frisson of seeing Triana and Chico naked together. Triana however is still certain that disaster is approaching.

Made on a budget of virtually nothing it has some interesting dream sequences (including the notorious girl-in-a-horse scene) and a fairly effective atmosphere of dangerous sexual passions. There’s enough sexual symbolism to keep a Freudian happy for a very long time. The symbolism is obvious and heavy-handed but then sexual symbolism in dreams is rarely subtle and Larraz has enough style to just about get away with it.

The big problem is the acting. Even by European exploitation movie standards it’s truly terrible, and this is compounded by the atrocious and bizarre English dubbing. And Unfortunately, being a psycho-thriller, this is a rare example of an exploitation movie that actually requires some real acting.

The ending is not exactly going to come as much of a shock.

Not a great movie by any standards but still a reasonable example of that characteristic 70s mix of art and eroticism.

The image quality on Pagan’s Region 2 DVD release is dismal which I suspect is a problem with the source materials rather than anything else. It’s very soft and very grainy and very washed-out. The extended interview with the director almost makes up for this though - Larraz is amusing, playful and revealing.

Worth a look if you enjoy this sort of thing and if you can find a copy.

1 comment:

Hence72 said...

this film looks ace