Tuesday, August 25, 2009

La Residencia

My fellow perverts, have I got a cinematic treat for you. I have lots of treats up my sleeve, some of the celluloid variety, some not (IYKWIM, but those are better left for another time). For now, I will present you with La Residence a.k.a. The House that Screamed, a Gothic atmosphere laden, psychosexual girl's school nightmare drama that you will thank me for. By the end of this, you will be at my knees, praying for one more slice of late 60's Eurohorror that delivers in the most sadistic ways possible. Brace yourself for a lashing from the stinging sweet tips of my cat o'nine tails, because it don't get much better than this!

La Residencia opens with Mme. Forteau(a damn fine in her role Lilli Palmer, she has just the right combination of bitch, cold, and stern), the headmistress of said residencia, reciting dictation for her girls to take down. Pretty Catalina is insubordinate as hell, and refuses to take down said dictation. Well, it's off to the punishment room for her, all of what entails will soon be deliciously discovered, well deliciously if you're sadistic like I am.

But cut to new girl Theresa being brought to the school by a 'friend' of her momma's. Seems mommy can't take care of Theresa like she should be able to, so this gentleman friend of hers has seen to her care at Mrs. Forteau's hand. He pays tuition for two semesters in cash up front and cares not to hear anything else. Perhaps something has transpired between Theresa and said gentleman in the past? It's subtle alluded to. He's more than happy to relenquish his guardianship of Theresa to Forteau and get the eff outta dodge as fast as he can.

So Theresa's first night ain't all that bad, the girl's seem to want to get to know her and are downright friendly, if you count being friendly as going through all of her clothes, trying them on, and demanding to know how rich she is as friendly. But Theresa doesn't seem to mind and even gifts some of her racier outfits to her new-found friends.

Meanwhile, however, things aren't going so well for insubordinate Catalina, and she's pinned down in her punishment cell by three of her classmates, including hall monitor and headmistress favorite Irene (who not only hands out corporeal punishment but arranges trysts for her sex-starved classmates with firewood bringer, Enrique), and whipped mercilessly for said insubordination. Damn, this scene comes outta nowhere - at first I think I'm just watching a simple girl's school movie, and then I'm reminded, hey, you're watching a girl's school movie, and I'm shocked back into reality by the girls taking all sorts of glee in beating the shit outta Catalina. They even manage to get a lick or two in after the headmistress (I keep wanting to refer to her as 'warden') orders them to stop.

Meanwhile again, there's subplot developing involving Forteau's teenage son and the only male on campus, Luis, whose been known to peep on the girls during their daily activities. Luis has been apparently involved with a lovely named Isabelle and has been sneaking visits with her whenever the chance arises. Seems later on Isabelle goes missing (spoiler alert - she has her throat cut in the greenhouse after Luis sent her a note telling her to meet him there in the middle of the night with promise of escape) - and that brings up the point that several girls have gone missing in the previous few weeks, with no trace of their existence ever to be heard from again. But hey, these are 'difficult' girls, the Forteau informs of of this very early on, and so as they say at those meetings I should go to - they are to be considered to 'have gone back out.'

Okay, were are we? It's been a long day - I do NOT recommend drinking pino noir then calling your brother in the middle of the night and have him bring over jagermeister and watching Dawn of the Dead, expounding loudly for hours how AWESOME that movie is, believe me, we were FEELING it, and then having to go to work at 5 p.m. with a massive hangover that still has not really dissipated and it's like almost 2 a.m. Back to the movie. So it's now Tuesday and it's shower day, yippee! And the girls have to get all soapy and clean, but unfortunately they don't get nekkid, with the exception of Catalina, oh that Catalina!, they have to wear white nightgowns in the shower. Which is strangely sexy. Very much so. Luis seems to think so as well, as he peeps on them from the ceiling.

Shower day came at just the right time for Susana, as it is her turn the next day with Enrique. The girls take turns once a month with ol' Enrique and apparently he's got the moves, if you consider moves being thrown into a haystack and grunting. But hey, these chicks miss their boyfriends and I guess beggars can't be choosers. So that awkward sex session leads us to things getting really uncomfortable between Luis and Mamma Forteau

Seems Forteau heard it through the grapevine that Luis has been having some one of one time with some of her girls. She warns him that none of the young ladies at la residencia are good enough for him and that he should meet a woman JUST LIKE HER and fall in love and start a family. She's dangerously close up in his face while she tells him this and I'm all like, if they start making out, I'm done! DONE. But in fact, I really wanted this movie to go there, and it sorta kinda does, with Forteau kissing him on the full on the lips. And scene.

Well, if a mother/son kiss on the lips doesn't make you feel icky enough, Irene has decided she can't stand Theresa and she's going to make her life a living hell. She finds out Theresa's mom is a nightclub singer, which is apparently slang for prostitute, and then forces her to don a corset and sing for her after beating her. They've got to get back to class, but promise to have an encore performance the next day. And the day after that and the day after that.

Theresa's decided she's had it and appeals to Luis to help her break out. Apparently she and Luis are dating now (?) and he gives her some pocket money and encourages her to escape. Then she manages to get her throat cut. Wha, you say? I know! That's how this fucking thing is, one minute you're just watching the movie, hanging out, la-de-da, and then the next thing you know something just comes outta nowhere. It's Theresa's movie! She's the protagonist. She's supposed to survive this thing - maybe not completely unscathed, but damn. I was betting she'd get her throat cut after an hour and twenty.

So the ending is just about the most fantastic ending that I totally did not see coming - seems Luis has been Dr. Frankenstiening himself up a perfect woman, using parts and pieces from all his favorite girls around the house. Mamma Forteau finds his secret room in the attic and he introduces her to his lady love. Then he locks Forteau in the room with the corpse pieces and tells her to teach his GF how to really take good care of him! The kid playing Luis totally owns it - he's got this creepy vibe but he's kinda cute, in a Disney Channel star sort of way.

So, I might not have done it full justice given my current condition, but this is really sight to behold. The house is simply marvelous, brimming with that old dark house vibe. Think everybody walking around with candelabras wearing period garb. If it wasn't in Spanish, everyone would speak in a clipped English accent for sure. And the sexy stuff is so wrong and in a lot of places, so understated, it makes this pervert very happy. And it's good when perverts are happy.

Thanks, Scott ;)


  1. "Come alive in the house that screamed!"

    Any movie that inspired a lyric from a Misfits song is worth checking out.

  2. Rev. Phantom, you are correct, sir, and thank you for noting that. Now it's in my head. Set iPod to Misifts, go!

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Jenn! I forget how it first came into my possession, but I knew nothing about it when I put it on, like you expecting some mild 60s girls' school stuff. When it delivered the uber-creepy old dark house and waaaaaay-out in left field sexuality (I nominate Luis and Mme. Forteau (my French is rusty, but doesn't that mean "Mrs. Strong"?) for most-disturbing mother/son combo after Hamlet/Gertrude. And that ending! WOW. Completely unexpected and awesome.

    I admit I was kind of in love with Irene by the end. So strong, so cruel, but with a vulnerability that peeked through right before she "threw her hand in." :P And that first murder scene, with Isabelle in the garden, is seriously one of the most beautiful slashings I've ever seen on film.

    Anyway, the cinematography is gorgeous, the house is fantastic, the acting spectacular, and the sexuality perverse. Really there's not much else you could ask for. Well, maybe an evil dwarf of some description. But that might be getting greedy. ;)

    I'll sign off now and go read your introductory paragraph again. I think I missed some of the nuances the first 3 times. ;P

    The Bunnies That Screamed,

  4. The ending, oh, the ending! I was like, WTF, La Residencia, what are you doing to me? All good things!

    Point well taken about Irene - at first I was having trouble discerning if she was actually a student or just a cruel sadist employed as a lackey by Forteau. But yes, when she starts to sense something is amiss in the house, I do see a bit of humanity there. Well played, Irene, well played.

    Glad I could titillate with my introductory paragraph, not just once but three times - grrrr-owl.


  5. Great pick - I have this silly, endearing little sleaze number on one o' the Elvira 'Midnight Macabre' double features. I, too, totally didn't see the ending comin', and was pleasantly surprised. Cheers!

  6. I only saw this one a single time, and white it was good, I remembered thinking it was pretty standard. The ending definitely stood out though, and Ill have to give it another go after this review =D