Pathfinder // 1975 // 95 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // May 2nd, 2003
Throw the writer on his face!
What do you get when you cross Sid Vicious, Elvira, Jesus, Satanism, French women with armpit hair, and whips, then throw them into the French boonies? Sadly, this isn't a joke. If it were, the punch line would be A Woman Possessed.
A man is buried up to his neck in the ground. A beautiful blonde woman dressed in black stands over him. She gestures to a man who looks like a punk rock star. He gestures to another man who sets the ground on fire. Then a man who looks like Jesus throws garden snakes over the buried man's head.
He is strapped to a black wooden X and whipped. Then he goes home to his lovely wife. She hates living in the French boonies and is unaware her husband is in a cult. But she'll learn. Oh, will she learn.
In the course of the film, the poor wife is chained into a pig sty, pissed on, whipped, raped, hunted down, and trapped inside a cave with a hairy man-beast. These scenes are interspersed with naked women dancing, more whippings, and drawn out shots of people thinking.
In the end, one of the characters goes mad, one dies, and one flips everyone off! Good for her.
As I watched A Woman Possessed, my finger instinctively twitched over the fast forward button. "No," I told myself, "this is for review. You must watch it all!" Somewhere, a dark priestess laughed.
Perhaps more experience with French cinema would give me a finer appreciation for the work, but frankly I was perplexed. The plot seemed random, disjointed. The words were conceptually separated from the action.
Speaking of words, the subtitles were the main perpetrator in this crime. The prosecution presents Exhibit A, a transcription of one of the scenes:
A woman is strapping a man to a giant, black, wooden X. The camera cuts back and forth between them.
HOT PRIESTESS: Force your will...You want to die from snakes. Be good.
MAN: Yes...because you intervened at the last moment. Without you...
HOT PRIESTESS: We'll say how fabulous you'll look in front of the hole.
MAN: I won't regret it.
[long period of conversation with no subtitles]
HOT PRIESTESS: You always want to see it?
MAN: Yes...never again.
[another long period of conversation with no subtitles]
HOT PRIESTESS: So, he'll support you until you know. She wants to be in the water.
Lest the defense claims this dialogue is taken out of context and is therefore indecipherable, let the record state that no context is large enough to understand this dialogue as written. Every scene is like this. Perhaps if one had a complete transcription of the subtitles and a week to study, he might glean a thread of understanding. Throw in egregious grammatical errors, lapses in transcription, incorrect use of gender pronouns, and poetic sentence structure, and you get a solid barrier between you and the plot. Take The Charge, for example. They don't throw a writer on the man's face, but they do throw water on it.
The acting doesn't aid comprehension. The style du jour is stoicism. That's a polite way of saying "unrelenting deadpan." Are people in cults not allowed to vary their tone of voice or move their eyeballs? Sometimes the acting swings to the other extreme, discombobulated facial contortions. Naked women flail limbs around with rapt expressions of...glee? on their faces. It sounds interesting, but somehow it is not.
The set design is "'70s hippie with accents of cult kitsch." There are black candles, tacky staffs with brass handles, velvet cloaks, dog collars, and lots of red paint. Get a load of the costumes! Groovy. At one point, the blonde priestess was wearing a hot pink top that exposed her breasts, but she had pink erasers over her nipples. The effect was surreal, like the office supply banshee was coming for my soul.
The audio is DD 2.0, which stands for "discordant, dissonant -- squared." Fortunately, the poor video quality is there to distract you. The transfer is soft, grainy, and riddled with scratches. It is also full-frame, which means A Woman Possessed was either made for TV or is presented in a cropped aspect ratio. Either choice would explain a lot.
How's this for a special feature: French with On/Off subtitles. So that explains it! The subtitles must have randomly turned off.
By the end, I found myself wishing that Mystery Science Theater 3000 did flicks with nudie scenes in them. A Woman Possessed must have been thrown into the The French Erotic Collection as filler. Yes, it is French and it does have naked women, but it is a poor excuse for an erotic film. Surely the French have better to offer. A Woman Possessed proves that different isn't necessarily good.
The hot pink nipple thing was amusing in a "gee, the '70s were odd" kind of way. Let's see...the trailers for the other movies looked kind of interesting.
If you enjoy the occasional erotic film, I encourage you to keep your distance from this one. If you enjoy the occasional film, I also recommend keeping your distance. If you have annoying house guests that won't leave, put this movie in. They'll either leave or fall asleep, which should grant you a respite.
Throw the writer on his face!
Review content copyright © 2003 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Trailers for Other Movies in The French Erotic Collection