TORTICOLA CONTRE FRANKENSBERG (1952)
aka Twisted Neck vs Frankensberg
Article 3232 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-25-2010
Posting Date: 6-20-2010
Directed by Paul Paviot
Featuring Michel Piccoli, Roger Blin, Daniel Gelin
What it is: French art film as parody of creaky horror movie in the form of a silent serial
The sinister Dr. Frankensberg plans to experiment on a beautiful woman, but will the monster that loves the girl object?
The first hint I had that this was meant to be comic was during an eerie scene when hooded monks make their way around a Stonehenge-style rock arrangement; one of them obviously trips, breaking the mood completely, and the fact that the scene was left in on purpose clearly stated the intention of the short. Given that it’s in unsubtitled French, I can’t say I understand the film completely, but I was consistently amused, especially in the way it plays with horror style; I’ve never seen a coffee-sweetening scene with as much foreboding as I did here. On top of Frankensberg and Torticola (think of Frankenstein and his monster), we have an assistant with an agenda of his own, an old woman who sharpens scalpels on an old whetstone, a man who thinks he’s a cat, a cat who speaks English, the maiden in distress, and the ever-present procession of chanting monks (if you want a few extra laughs, listen carefully to the melodies they chant). I’d love to see it English; in particular, I’d like to figure out the references to Freud. Though it’s a classier film in every way, I couldn’t help but be reminded of two other horror-themed shorts I’ve seen; MONSTERS CRASH THE PAJAMA PARTY and THE PROFESSOR.