Nature Morte


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The film begins with a gory scene in which a painter named Stephenson kills his model (Michelle Esclapez) and paints with her blood. In the morning he kills himself. The police in Marseilles conclude that this is the end of the so-called "Marseilles Monster," a noted serial killer, because the artist's studio includes paintings of all the previous victims. The only apparent mysteries seem to be why the artist chose this time to end his murder spree, and why he left the last painting unfinished.

But there is more. Some months pass and the French police need the services of an art expert because they unearth a fully finished copy of the mysteriously unfinished painting, and their lab work tells them that the painting has been created since Stephenson died. The situation is made more perplexing  because nobody has ever seen the unfinished copy of the painting except the police. The art expert confirms that the new painting seems to be a Stephenson.

The art expert and a French cop soon end up in Thailand, in pursuit of a master art forger named Lec, who seems to have been the creator of the Stephenson painting created after Stephenson's death. Lec also seems to be in possession of several other Stephenson paintings - or are they Lec paintings? The cop starts to believe that Lec, not Stephenson, may have been the real killer in Marseilles, or at least an accomplice, but his theory is shot when he obtains Lec's fingerprints and tracks down his real identity, only to discover that he was in prison during several of the Marseilles murders. At any rate, Lec himself is soon killed, so there is nothing more to pursue in Thailand.

The story returns to England and grows increasingly more complex when more Stephenson-style paintings turn up and more murders occur. Sound confusing? It is. The key to the story is one painting - Stephenson's self-portrait. If you stay fixed on that painting, the mystery will be clear. Well, maybe not clear, but at least semi-comprehensible. The face in the painting keeps changing. First it is Stephenson's face, then Lec's, then ... well, just keep watching.

The story is further complicated by a sub-plot which winds back into the main plot. The sadistic Lec had a girlfriend named Blanche (the film's co-producer and editor, Carole Derrien) who was devastated by his loss. She takes on a new lover, a woman (Morrigan Hel), who turns her on but just doesn't have the cruel streak necessary to satisfy her masochistic urges. Blanche prefers women, but wants to find one as cruel as Lec. When she figures out that the man she loved was just some kind of spirit that travels from body to body, as reflected in the mutable self-portrait, she resolves to steal the supernatural painting and give it to her current lover. She assumes that that the owner of the painting will soon be possessed by the traveling spirit, and she will therefore get to keep her current female lover (in body) and also be reunited with her murderous ex-lover (in spirit).

At least that's my best guess as to what is going on in the film. Frankly, the narrative is garbled and slow to begin with, often focusing too much screen time on irrelevancies, and much of the storyline is revealed through dream sequences and drug-induced hazes, so the story is virtually incomprehensible. The film's liabilities don't end there. There are many technical problems. The film was shot on mini-DV and the lighting is far too dark, so that some scenes are virtually in stygian blackness. The actors are not only stiff and amateurish, but some of them speak with such heavy accents that comprehension is a real problem. The audience is left trying to piece together an excessively complicated plot from pictures that can't be seen and words that can't be understood, making the film's positive elements virtually impossible to enjoy.

Yes, there are positives. The filmmakers managed to do a lot with $200,000. There are location shots in France, England, and Thailand, and there are some sumptuous settings. (The co-producers must have friends with very nice houses and cars.) The film also has a certain surreal appeal that transcends its weaknesses. If you are into the whole Gorotica thing, you may find Nature Morte interesting. With the aid of a bizarre original score, the director manages to do a good job in cultivating a dark, ugly, erotically-charged atmosphere, and in loading up the film with guilty genre pleasures like stylized gore and lesbian sex. There are hints of Jean Rollin and Jesus Franco in the style and mood of the film, so if you like those directors you may find some individual scenes to contain the same offbeat appeal found in the European Horrotica films of the 1970s and beyond.



Deleted scenes with director's comments

Blooper reel

Stills gallery

Redemption USA trailer selection

Blood & Dishonour book teaser


There are no major reviews online, but the reviews of many genre sites are linked from IMDb. I'd say their reactions varied greatly.


5.6 IMDB summary (of 10)
  That's based on a statistically insignificant sample, and probably "stuffed," judging from the fulsome comments from one-time users. I suppose it will settle in about a point lower.


No theatrical release.


  • Breasts from Morrigan Hel, Michelle Esclapez, and at least one extra
  • Full frontal and rear nudity from Carole Derrien

There is a lot of nudity. It starts slow. There's some nudity in the opening Stephenson sequence (Esclapez), then virtually none for the next hour, but once the film gets going it delivers nudity almost non-stop in the last half-hour, including various lesbian scenarios.


My Space page

Official Movie Site

Interview with the producers


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Genre addicts only. Mainstream movie goers will find it not only too dark and depraved but, worse still, will find it unintelligible as well.