Director: Jean Rollin
Writers: Jean Rollin and Jacques Ralf
Release year: 1982
Jean Rollin’s LA MORTE VIVANTE (aka THE LIVING DEAD GIRL) – so far the one and only Rollin movie I’ve seen – is a very hit-and-miss kind of deal. But I’m not here to talk about the actual movie, of course.
Click play to listen to The Living Dead Violin
The frozen-frame ending is what concerns us, and I can say rightaway the last scene (including the last shot) of the film, is undoubtedly one of the best things this movie has to offer. In order to appreciate that last scene and understand why it is such a strong one, you first must learn about the main merit LA MORTE VIVANTE has (and perhaps the only thing that really works throughout the whole movie). No, I’m not talking about the gore or the plenty portrayal of female nudity. What really works in this movie, and is rather well-developed too, are the drama-aspects between the two leading girls (and that’s a strange thing to say for a sleazy gore-flick, one that many would commonly describe as Euro-Trash). It’s intriguing how things change between Catherine and Hélène, even in such a manner that by the time the movie ends, the roles of protagonist and antagonist have somewhat shifted. Catherine, our Living Dead Girl, needs blood and kills, yes, very true. But near the end you start questioning who the worst villain actually is: Is it Catherine, who never asked to be returned from the dead and is repulsed by her own actions? Or is it her life-long friend Hélène, providing her with fresh victims and near the end even killing anybody who comes too close to discovering their secret?
So you might see the ending of this movie coming – I for one did… In one last, shocking scene, Catherine starts eating Hélène alive (her craving for blood is that uncontrollable). When she has finished elaborately feasting on her friend’s body, then we are treated to our last shot. Catherine is sitting on her knees, covered in blood, besides the corps of Hélène. The set displays what could be the balcony-entrance to the side of the castle. It is like she realizes again what kind of carnage her blood-rage has unleashed and she has a very dramatic reaction to it. She starts hysterically screaming and crying – and for some odd reason that also involves her squeezing and caressing her own blood-covered boobies…
While Catherine’s dramatic reaction is on-going, grieving screams and cries still pouring out of the woman, the camera slowly starts pulling back, along side the castle wall until the two actresses are merely silhouettes in the distance. It simply is one, long beautiful shot, and the way it is lit turns it into some darkly poetic visual. When Catherine raises her hands to her head again, she utters her last scream and… the frame freezes.
And then the end-credits scroll the frozen screen while a darkly ominous drone colours the soundtrack. A solid conclusion to a rather weak movie, ending it in shocking beauty.