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December 14, 2005

The Coming of Sin

La Visita del Vicio
Jose Larraz - 1977
Pagan Films PAL Region 0 DVD

Have you ever read a film book and had your attention caught by a particular still? Has that particular image captured your imagination enough that you felt like you HAD to see the movie that particular still illustrated. I felt that way when I saw this image in the book Immoral Tales. (Sorry I haven't quite figured out how to do screen capture for Mac.) In any event, I finally saw this film on DVD. The Coming of Sin is not quite as strange as that one image.

The film lies somewhere between art and soft-core exploitation. A wealthy artist, Lorna, takes in an illiterate gypsy girl on behalf of her friends. The gypsy, Triana, has been bothered by nightmares involving a man riding naked on a horse. Her dream image is manifested in the form of Chico, a handsome young man with a horse, who shows up the morning after Triana's arrival. What little narrative exists is punctuated with seens of lesbian and heterosexual coupling as well as a menage a trois. It's kind of like Cinemax only with characters who can name drop Goya. Having seen John Huston's Reflections in a Golden Eye with Marlon Brando undone by the site of Robert Forster's nude horseback riding, I knew these characters would come to a bad end.

I have only seen two films by Larraz at this time, with the other film being Vampyres. Even if one questions his subject matter, what has made Larraz a favorite with some critics is his imagery. His talent can be seen in the comic strips that first gained Larraz attention. Larraz opens The Coming of Sin with the camera panning over paintings of nude and semi-nude women in Lorna's house, and also has a scene with Lorna and Chico viewing similar paintings in a museum. Larraz emphasis on the image was in part due to making this film with a very small budget and non-professional actors. In Immoral Tales, Larraz is quoted: "It was really like an album of pictures. Just beautiful frames." It should be noted that Larraz did get the opportunity to make a mini-series on Goya for Spanish television, one of his few artistically satisfying films.

The DVD includes an interview with Larraz conducted by Cathal Tohill which covers not only The Coming of Sin, but also some of Larraz' other films, plus his meeting with Josef von Sternberg. Hopefully more of Larraz' films will be made available on DVD, especially is earlier English language films. Among his countrymen, Larraz may not in the same league as Bunuel, but given what he can with limited resources, he is certainly a more cohesive and artistic filmmaker than Jesus Franco.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at December 14, 2005 02:34 PM