While many different countries have put their own unique cultural spin on the slasher genre — even before it rose to international prominence in the early ‘80s — most fans wouldn’t think of France as a resource for old school stalk-and-slash horror films.
While the French have developed a solid post-millennial reputation for extreme horror cinema thanks to modern classics like MARTYRS, HIGH TENSION and INSIDE, you may be surprised to discover that gore-drenched flicks have been coming out of that country for decades.
Most of France’s early entries in the slasher genre are micro-budgeted efforts — pet projects made by horror fans, for horror fans — and very few of these saw any form of distribution outside of their homeland; often without English dubbing or subtitles, they were nearly impossible to find in other countries, outside of twelfth-generation VHS bootlegs struck from Japanese or Dutch home video releases.
Still, a few memorable films managed to make their presence known… and one of the more popular titles with rare-slasher collectors is Norbert Moutier’s completely bonkers 1983 splatter epic OGROFF, also known as THE MAD MUTILATOR or BLOOD ZONE.
This movie can be described with many adjectives, including “hallucinatory,” “incomprehensible,” “amateurish,” “exploitative,” or “holy-hell-what-did-you-dose-me-with” (not technically an adjective, but still fitting). Nevertheless, I can vouch that “dull” isn’t one of them.
In fact, Moutier — a video store owner turned indie filmmaker — seems to dispense with any kind of exposition or significant dialogue, and just gets straight to the killing immediately, even dispensing with opening credits (the title appears at the end of the film, adorably hand-painted on a plate of glass).
The title character (played by Moutier himself, as “N.G. Mount”) is a leather-masked hermit who enjoys the great outdoors and has a rather unhealthy relationship with his weaponry… and I mean that literally; we’re even treated to a sleazy sequence where he has… uh, an intimate moment with his axe.
He also likes to share this passion with others, which he does by embedding various instruments of death in the skull or chest of anyone who ventures onto his turf… not even little kids are safe from his bloody rampage, and he also chops up a family car at one point.
Just to make sure we’re paying attention, Moutier decides to expand on this very basic slasher scenario by adding vampires and zombies to the mix… and inexplicably, our slash-happy villain is also transformed into a hero of sorts, falling in psycho-love with an equally homicidal young woman (Françoise Deniel) and eventually setting out on a motorcycle to rescue her from the clutches of a demonic bloodsucking priest and his zombie army. No, I am not making this up!
Apparently shot without sound and post-dubbed (quite badly, I might add), with a cheap but surprisingly creepy electronic score and gallons of the red stuff on tap, OGROFF is barking mad in every possible way… but somehow this damn thing works on a surreal, dreamlike level, in a world where even the most basic logic is meaningless, and literally anything can happen.
As you might imagine, you won’t find this oddity on a Region 1 or all-region disc… but if you’ve got a region-free DVD player, French distributor Artus Films recently released a 30th Anniversary Edition complete with cast and crew interviews.
The image is still trashy as ever, and no English subtitles are available, but the movie itself doesn’t really need them, as it only features about a dozen words of dialogue, and most of that is just shrill screams and grunts. Kind of refreshing, actually…