The Merits of Sin: Night of Death (1980) (France)

A grand retirement home in a secluded patch of the French countryside serves as the setting for this somehow quirky and mean spirited tale.

Hahahaha….wait. Oh god!

Martine (the insanely beautiful Isabelle Goguey) has just arrived at the Deadlock House a day ahead of schedule. Nicole, the current nurse, thinks that she’s about to get fired but the proprietor of the home, Miss Helene, assures her it’s just a bit of extra help. The home is inhabited by a handful of goofy old folks and after a quick tour, Martine feels comfortable taking the job. Nicole, on the other hand, is going to wish she had gotten the boot.

The usual suspects

Ya see, this rambunctious group of geriatrics has a little cure for feeling the full force of their twilight years. Although as far as Martine knows they’re on a strict vegetarian diet, the meal regiment leans a bit more towards the carnivore side. In a secret dungeonlike area the gang of grans feast upon the flesh and blood of the young….in this case Nicole. Their vigor restored, the old folks have figured out the messy and meaty path to immortality.

Long pig

Martine begins to suspect something is wrong when she discovers Nicole’s suitcase even though she’s been told Nicole quit. She gets nowhere in her investigation and the lovelorn servant with a bad limp is paying close attention to her after he catches her snooping around. Unlucky for her, the clock is ticking and she better get smart to what’s going down before she ends up next on the menu.

Martine is French for smartass

Night of Death pulls off a bit of a balancing act between the charming and cruel. The oddness of the situation at first leads one to believe the experience will have shades of dark but will mostly dwell in the light. We learn shockingly quick that there will be very little relief from the shadows. Nicole’s death is cheap looking as all hell but the fact that it is shot with an unflinching eye and plays out almost boringly, unsettles to no end. It’s an excellent slap to the face that wakes you up to how serious the situation is. The incredibly likable lead adds to the souring mood.

Yep. Even in French. Creepy as hell

The film remains restrained in between the major reveal early on and the climax full of justified elderly abuse. There’s some side plots but they don’t really leave much of an impact when all is said and done. It’s a damn fine movie and I can’t help but believe it shoots past average because of how much Isabelle Goguey brings to her portrayal of Martina. Her acting falters on more than one occasion but I was too damn enchanted to care. Sure as hell beats most of the SOV theatrics I find so damn delightful. So come for the senior flesh chomping and stay for the sexy lead actress and chain whipping. 7/10

Oh quit being dramatic, Ethel

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