Director: Various
Stars: Various
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 94 minutes

Euro-horror cult director Jean Rollin dives into science fiction with an ultra-low-budget picture that resembles nothing less than Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor by way of David Cronenberg. Though it starts out in classic horror fantasy fashion, with a beautiful young woman (Rollin regular Brigitte Lahaie) in a flimsy nightgown rushing breathlessly though a dark forest, the imagery quickly changes tone when she is returned to the mysterious, antiseptic skyscraper asylum known as "Black Tower." Blank-eyed inmates with dissipated memories wander through the featureless white hallways and empty rooms, helpfully making up stories for one another to stand in for their lost pasts. Like in most of Rollin's films, the story is more fascinating before the exposition and explanations, when the ambiguous conspiracies and the stark landscapes create an unsettling, alienated world out of time and place. The wooden acting is transformed into an asset, a dazed cast of shuffling living zombies somewhere between shock and stupor slowly losing their minds. In true Rollin fashion, he takes time out for gratuitous sex scenes and nudity and weaves a disconnected series of gory murders into a story that never really makes sense in the first place, but the ethereal, poetic imagery creates an enigmatic psychodrama more concerned with mood and texture than narrative. The new Redemption release restores two scenes cut by the producers for its theatrical release. The DVD features the theatrical trailer and a gallery of production stills. --Sean Axmaker

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