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JURAJ HERZ:
IN AND OUT OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK NEW WAVE
TOURING RETROSPECTIVE
Starting August 2, 2019

FERAT VAMPIRE (Upír z Feratu, 1981)

FERAT VAMPIRE

 

Upír z Feratu, 1981, 93min, Czechoslovakia

New translation

Czech with English subtitles

with Jiří Menzel, Dagmar Veškrnová, Jana Břežková

 

Doctor Marek (Jiří Menzel*) is upset to lose his ambulance driver, Mima (Dagmar Veškrnová), to a job working as a rally driver for foreign car manufacturer Ferat, and even more upset when he hears whispers that Ferat cars use human blood for their fuel. Assaulted by censors, Ferat Vampire still boasts a blood-bathed dream sequence, a disturbing industrial soundtrack, and a piquant performance by Zdenka Procházková as Madame Ferat, a kind of Countess Elizabeth Báthory-as-industrialist. A satire on consumerism, a potent piece of anti-automobile propaganda, and perhaps the purest horror exercise that Herz produced.

 

* the Oscar winning director of Closely Watched Trains

THE JUNK SHOP (Sběrné surovosti, 1965) THE JUNK SHOP (Sběrné surovosti, 1965) A work of nonstop invention set over the course of a single day at a paper recycling facility frequented by oddballs, including manager and aesthete Bohoušek, based on Bohumil Hrabal's life and a story from his book Pearls of the Deep. SIGN OF CANCER (Znamení raka, 1966) SIGN OF CANCER (Znamení raka, 1966) A warped detective story that begins with a murder in a hospital, the investigation of which reveals rampant incompetence, the film’s implicitly critical depiction of a public service sector overloaded with underqualified Party stooges would land Herz in trouble with censors for what was not to be the last time. New subtitles! THE CREMATOR (Spalovač mrtvol, 1969) THE CREMATOR (Spalovač mrtvol, 1969) Herz's masterpiece, in a new digital restoration released by Janus Films in North America, is set in 1930s Prague, where Nazi ideology hangs as thick as the charnel fumes over the crematorium run by the troubled Karel Kopfrkingl. This macabre and harrowing work of psychological and social breakdown was banned after its 1969 debut only to re-emerge and garner deserved praise twenty years later. OIL LAMPS (Petrolejové lampy, 1971) OIL LAMPS (Petrolejové lampy, 1971) Contender for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1972, this early 20th Century period piece is set in a provincial town, Jilemnice, that’s riven by repressed desire and smoldering secrets. Herz plumbs deep within the psychology of his characters in this gripping and gorgeous film, which investigates the rot beneath the decoration and decorum of the Secession era. New subtitles! MORGIANA (1972) MORGIANA (1972) A Gothic drama about two sisters, Klára and Viktoria—both played by Iva Janžurová, in an amazing double-role performance—are put at loggerheads when the sweet, vapid Klára receives the better part of their father’s sprawling estate and the love of the man that Viktoria adores, leading the spurned sibling to venomous thoughts of murder.  BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Panna a netvor, 1978) BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Panna a netvor, 1978) A tale you’ll know well—innocent girl presents herself as sacrifice to a cursed, freakish beast living in isolation, and learns to live with and love her captor—but turned into something very different in Herz’s morbid imagining. New subtitles! FERAT VAMPIRE (Upír z Feratu, 1981) FERAT VAMPIRE (Upír z Feratu, 1981) A satire on consumerism, a potent piece of anti-automobile propaganda, and perhaps the purest horror exercise that Herz produced. Starring the excellent Jiří Menzel (the Oscar winning film director) in the lead role of Dr. Marek. New subtitles! CAUGHT BY NIGHT (Zastihla mě noc, 1985) CAUGHT BY NIGHT (Zastihla mě noc, 1985) Conceived as a biography of Communist journalist Jožka Jabůrková, a victim of Ravensbrück, Herz went his own way, creating a nauseously stylized vision of hell on earth that is, with Wanda Jakubowska’s 1948 The Last Stage, one of only two fiction films made by a camp survivor about the experience.  GOLDEN SIXTIES: JURAJ HERZ (Zlatá šedesátá, dir. Martin Šulík, 2009) GOLDEN SIXTIES: JURAJ HERZ (Zlatá šedesátá, dir. Martin Šulík, 2009) An illuminating portrait of Juraj Herz from a 27-part TV series about masters of the Czechoslovak New Wave.


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