May 30, 2013
If some sadomasochistic sodomite like Andy Milligan, except slightly more technically gifted as an auteur, remade Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) and set it in the leather-fag metropolitan netherworld of Cruising (1980) directed by William Friedkin, it might resemble Monique (1978) aka New York After Midnight aka Flashing Lights directed by French art-sploitation auteur/gay pornographer Jacques Scandelari (Macédoine, Homologues ou La soif du male aka Man’s Country). A superlatively sordid, maliciously melodramatic, and absurdly anti-romantic celluloid work based on a real-life case history reported in the April 1974 publication of ‘Le Journal de l’Association des Psychologistes (Lyon, France), Monique is a seemingly totally trashy yet totally serious film about a 35-year-old French spinster who is rather desperate to get married and conceive a child, but the problem is that she is slightly insane due to a repressed childhood memory and when she does end up meeting up with a seemingly marvelous man, he turns out to be as straight as a circle as a gold-digging, butt-darting schemer who has nil interest in producing kin folk, thus resulting in serious trouble of the homo-homiciding sort. Starring sub-diva Florence Giorgetti of Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe (1973) in the title role, Monique is essentially a rather restrained hodgepodge of director Jacques Scandelari ‘greatest’ films. Featuring the disco and S&M faggotry of his NYC hardcore leather-fag celluloid magnum opus New York City Inferno (1978) aka Cock Tales, the grotesque Hans Bellmer-esque baby doll art featured in La philosophie dans le boudoir (1971) aka Beyond Love and Evil, and the dark and shadowy noirish sexual sadism of Vice Squad (1978) aka Brigade mondaine, Monique is a rare work of considerably competently assembled exploitation cinema that actually takes itself seriously, even if the ‘true story’ the film is apparently based on seems like the subplot of some sort of subpar Troma direct-to-video garbage. Misleadingly advertised as a generic slasher flick under a number of dubious titles, Monique follows in the trend of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), which was also attempted later by Ulli Lommel of all people via Olivia (1983) aka A Taste of Sin and countless other less successful filmmakers, in depicting a beauteous yet deranged debutante who suffered a childhood trauma and cannot help herself from killing men, especially those she is romantically involved with. Featuring gay porn star turned disco singer turned AIDS victim Wade Nichols (aka Dennis Parker) giving a Village People-esque performance of his deplorable disco song "Like an Eagle" and a number of female-perpetrated disco bloodbaths, Monique is what happens when highbrow celluloid trash meets crappy cocksucker kitsch.
Monique Raymond (Florence Giorgetti) is a relatively successful 35-year-old French professional with a trust fund who lives in relative luxury in New York City and even has a second home in Long Island, but her personal life is a sad joke, or at least she constantly tells her bitchy Jew-y therapist Dr. Charles Mandel (Barry Woloski). Feeling like an old spinster who has no chance of ever getting married, Monique is more than ready for Prince Charming to roll by, but more than anything, she wants a baby of her own. Indeed, a certain Prince Charming does arrive for Monique in the form of a hack artist named Richard Lewis (John Ferris) who constructs infantile ‘infant art’ (or what he calls ‘erotic art’ as if deformed babies have some sort of sexual appeal) that, as a rival/ex-lover reminds him, is a total rip-off of German degenerate artist Hans Bellmer’s pubescent female doll work, but he is a little too charming and his motivations seemed to be rather dubious to say the least, especially considering he is much younger and less rich than his professional trust-fund babe. Believing she has met the more than marvelous man of her dreams, Monique does not think twice about marrying Richard on a random and semi-secret whim Las Vegas-style, but problems soon arise when Richard decides he would rather spend his spare time creating vulgar art, exploiting and leading on his hyper horny manager/mentor Helen Kahn (Robyn Peterson) to further his career, hanging out at hip gay discos at night, and having an affair with someone else—another man and an exceedingly effete one at that. On top of the fact her husband is a two-faced twink of the terribly temper-tantrum-throwing sort, Monique regularly has debilitating childhood flashbacks of when her mother was killed right before her weary eyes as a fragile froggy toddler, so before she knows it, she is wandering the semen-soaked streets of NYC and slaughtering salacious sodomites left and right, and only her prissy therapist has enough insight to stop her. When a jealous ex-lover of Richard’s—a pole-smoking poof of a polak named Karl Zebrowski (Rayner Wallwork)—reveals to Monique that her hubby is a well known player on the pink team, and even—rather inexplicably—attempts to rape her, she bludgeons him in the gut with a butcher knife in a Norman Bates-esque fashion. Of course, when Richard has the audacity to bring his secret boyfriend to their scenic beach house in Long Island for Christmas, Monique gives him a bit of a fatal fag-bashing that he will never forget. Apparently, Monique’s French father is also a fag, thus proving like husband like father-in-law. Monique’s mother was accidentally killed in a scuffle with her father and his handsome male lover, so it was only natural that the French girl would grow up to be an anti-gay serial killer of sorts, thus eliciting metaphysical vengeance for her dear mère. In the end, Monique spends 8 years in a facility for the criminally insane for her murderous acts of involuntary homophobia, but later devotes her life to teaching Yoga in what is a semi-happy conclusion to an unhappy, childless life.
A rare work of ‘fag noir’ with a sort of ‘gay male femme fatale,’ Monique is like William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980) for fag hags minus the cop drama. To be quite honest, I would not be surprised if director Jacques Scandelari did the casting for Monique at a sleazy NYC leather-fag bar as virtually every single male character, including the ostensibly heterosexual therapists, looks virtually the same as they are all skinny, tall white men with Village People-esque mustaches that seem like extras from the director's homo hardcore flick New York City Inferno, albeit minus the leather and fetishistic cop uniforms. Although not Jacques Scandelari’s greatest flick, Monique is a consistently entertaining, if not sometimes unintentionally so, prototype for the sleazy and seedy artsy exploitation flicks Abel Ferrara would later specialize in. The fact that the protagonist is a woman who kills male homos as opposed to heterosexual rapists like in Ferrara’s Ms. 45 (1981) makes Scandelari’s Monique all the more sweetly scandalous, especially considering the politically correct climate of today where any negative portrayal of a limp-wristed fairy is considered a virtual sin. A debauched depiction of what Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s most dreaded nightmare might have been like with an aesthetically disgusting Discotheque backdrop in a pre-AIDS time before hysteria and death hit the gay world with the force of two fists to the ass, Monique is indubitably from an era best left forgotten, but thankfully it is full of blood and bitterness. Of course, Monique also brings murder, melancholy, and mayhem to the world of the NYC bourgeois and Dorian love discos, which is worthy of any exploitation fan’s time, though I would not recommend the film to mothers-to-be or sad French spinsters suffering from childhood traumas. Probably the only film ever made where a gay group of disco-delighting leather-fags attempt to gang rape a nearly-middle-aged woman, Monique is a piece of morally retarded sinema with style and an inkling of substance that reminds one why everyone needs a dose of trash celluloid in their lives.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 8:28 PM
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