The Exquisite Cadaver (1969)

aka Las crueles, The Cruel Ones
Article 2919 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-5-2009
Posting Date: 8-10-2009
Directed by Vicente Aranda
Featuring Capucine, Andre Argaud, Judy Matheson
Country: Spain

A book publisher receives a package containing a hand. He receives a telegram in which he is told he will receive a forearm. He lies to his wife on the significance of these events. He and his wife take up separate investigations to learn the reason why.

With a title like THE EXQUISITE CADAVER, I was definitely expecting something out of the ordinary. When I saw the director was Vicente Aranda (who directed FATA/MORGANA and THE BLOOD-SPATTERED BRIDE), that feeling increased. The trailer (which appears at the end of my copy of this movie) paints it all as a shock-a-moment horror thriller. Anyone who watches this movie on the strength of that trailer will come away disappointed; though the plot does revolve around the dismemberment of a corpse and the sending of body parts in the mail, it’s only marginally a horror movie. It’s arty rather than bloody (which, given the director, is no surprise), and basically it tells a story of how three women are affected by the man’s affair with a suicidal girl. The three women are the girl herself, the girl’s female friend (and possibly lover), and the man’s wife. I’ve seen it described as a soap opera, and that fits well enough in some ways, though it shows more insight than the usual soap opera. Overall, it works for me, but mileage may vary for you, and you should be aware that it’s slow-moving and quite bloodless.

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