Stylish, sun-soaked Italian-inspired thriller is an anti-genre film
Let the Corpses Tan, the most recent – as of this writing – style overload immersion into Eurotrash fetish excess from husband and wife filmmaker team Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet is, aesthetically, more of the same sort of stuff they’ve been supplying fans for almost a decade. If you’ve seen their breakthrough film Amer and its follow-up The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, you know what we mean. Taking the motifs and moments and rhythms and iconography from European genre films of the 1970s and literally remixing them with new narratives and subtext, Cattet and Forzani are at this point untouchable. It’s not fair to lump them in with other filmmakers who mine and mimic the same period – people like Quentin Tarantino or Rob Zombie – because this duo are artists doing something different, something far more abstract, more elemental and organic and avant garde. Their films are admirably dedicated to being so focused on valuing style over story that they often become a challenge to stick with, especially for the average viewer simply seeking a bit of escapism. But like their first films, if you do stick with Let the Corpses Tan, you probably won’t ever forget it.
While Cattet And Forzani have previously exclusively nodded to the giallo tropes of the Italian genre picture, Let the Corpses Tan is a wild riff on the poliziotteschi, the Mediterranean police thriller and the traditional, sun-baked Spaghetti Western with more than a dash of Alejandro Jodorowsky weirdness. The push to place the action outside of the urgent and claustrophobic interior worlds of the giallo pays off as this is probably the most delirious and earthy film of the trio.The film, based on the 1971 French pulp novel, sees a writer and artist (Marc Barbe) living in a beautifully-ruined home in Corsica with his craggy-face girlfriend (Elina Lownesjohn). Soon, a tribe of gangsters shows up to wreck their boozy zen, along with a pair of bikers and later, the writer’s wife, nanny and young son. Tensions mount and soon, everyone is shooting each other. And scene.
But it’s not the plot one should focus on when absorbing this madcap orgy of gunshots, paint explosions, surrealism (I especially love the Bondian gold girl at the header of the picture), Jess Franco-worthy hyper zooms and sweat and blood and fluids. No, the only hope you’ll have of truly embracing the film is to take it as a moving comic book, with each panel an explosion of fetishized, switchblade-edited violence and exaggerated cool. Of course, this is ultimately a comic book with a soundtrack and, like Cattet and Forzani’s other movies, the music is a melange of music, much of it from other films and at least one track composed by the secret handshake of the Italian genre movie, Ennio Morricone.
Is Let the Corpses Tan a good movie? That’s a stupid question. It defies such facile classifications and almost defies proper critical response. It’s informed by genre, and yet it’s anti-genre. It’s a Cattet and Forzani film, a perverse, kinetic shot of celluloid psychosis that doesn’t give a damn what your expectations are or what popular tastes demand. It just exists to kick you in the teeth. We suggest you let it do just that…