Leonor (Mistress of the Devil, 1975)

US Scorpion Releasing Blu-ray edition

Reversible sleeve

Text below written 2019-01-14


Wow! I've heard of this obscure film and put it on my desperately wanted list - a 1970's Spain genre movie (yes, i want them all, that Iberian
atmosphere just gets me), directed by the son of my favourite director Luis Buñuel, an art horror, with some really heavy actors as Michel
Piccoli and Liv Ullman and the outstanding beauty Ornella Muti, cinematography by the master photographer Luciano Tovoli and with a
soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. I wanted it a lot but it could only be found on grey market releases in questionable picture quality.

.... And then, US Scorpion Releasing presents this brand new HD master of the long International cut (99 minutes) and of the shorter US cut
(85 minutes) and i loved it. Sure, it's a film more suited for the cineaste artmovie crowd than the regular horror fans, so beware, but it's very
atmospherical and it slowly builds to it's climax. A poetic gothic horror and artmovie drama co-produced by Piccoli.
Beware of the blu-ray sleeve though, as there's no such monster in the movie. An artmovie gem it is, and unjustly and strangely forgotten

It's medieval times (14th century maybe) and the beloved wife of the knight and master of a castle, Richard (Piccoli) dies after having a fall
from her horse. Leonor (Liv Ullman) is buried in a dilapidated tomb close to the castle. It's unclear exactly where this film is supposed to take
place (or, maybe i missed that?) but there are talk about the plague hitting the city/state of Milan, so maybe we're in Italy even though the
arid landscape looks decidely Spanish ?

Richard mourns Leonor's death for 20 days and then briskly re-marries with the much younger Catherine (Ornella Muti), the daughter of a
villager (Jorge Giraud), and he apparently loves her dearly and they have 2 children. But, naturally there's a But as this film is titled Leonor
and she wonders why he can't sleep, what's bothering him.
Richard sometimes sees Leonor wandering by his side, watching him and he decides to open the crypt ....

As a youngster i didn't like Liv Ullman at all. As a Swede you were fed with Ingmar Bergman movies and Ullman often acted in hysterical
mode as in Scenes from a Marriage (i loved many Bergman films though). Today, after seing her in many non-Bergman films i love her.
She's fantastic as Leonor, the child killer and maybe vampire, scary, beautiful and with those blue eyes.
"Richard, i'm cold", "where are we?" - she's bewildered and scared and she needs to kill to get some warmth in her body.

Is she a vampire ? We never actually see her bite her victims, more like smothering them, and can't be sure. Is she spreading the plague, a
creature abhorrent to nature ? Everything's done understated in an arty way so a gorehound would be disappointed with this movie.
At the bottom of the script seems to be the early 19th-century folktale Leonor by Ludwig Tieck about a female vampire.

The film is art, drama, horror and a love story, but NOT a romantic one as the 2 lovers are killers, a vampire and a wife-murderer.

Presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 for the International version and 1.66:1 for the US shorter version, and with spanish or english audio
with english subtitles for the longer cut. Extra: an audio commentary with film historian Troy Howarth. A 2018 region A blu-ray edition

 

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