Pulp cinema isn't for everyone, despite what the works of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have done to mix their sensibilities with more traditional storytelling. But if you were to limit the narrative portion of such a film, and amp up the violence to the point of excess, you'd probably start to see those whose tastes are more suited for the multiplex start to peel off. No film is a better example of what such a film would look like than Let The Corpses Tan, a film from Belgium that eschews elongated storytelling for something more fierce, and far more energetic.
On a normal, sunny day, in a remote hideaway right on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, Luce (Elina Lowensohn) and her two gentlemen companions, Rhino and Max (Stephane Ferrara and Marc Barbe), live a life of art, leisure, and nude sunbathing. That idyllic portrait is about to be disrupted though, as a criminal gang has just stolen a load of solid gold bars, and is about to hole up in said hideaway, to avoid the cops hot on their trail. With Max's wife (Doryila Calmel) complicating things due to a surprise rendezvous, what started as a mildly inconvenient day turns into a bullet-laden, blood-soaked fight for survival.
Right from the first scene, depicting the artistic Luce and the brutish Rhino making some art with paint and handguns, you know that Let The Corpses Tan is the sort of film that Tarantino, Rodriguez, and the rest of their ilk have always aspired to make. Drenched in beautiful color, and coated with hard as nails dialogue about society and criminality, it's the sort of movie that'd punch you out upon first sight, just because it could. It's tough on its characters throughout, using the lens of psychedelic visuals, recycled music cues from the glory days of Ennio Morricone and others, with just the right amounts of blood and nudity to give it the proper edge.
For a film that runs a little over an hour and a half, Let The Corpses Tan is a speedboat, stripping its narrative down to the bare bones needed to keep things sailing along at top flight. What it lacks in a cohesive narrative, it makes up for with its tense and visually arresting storytelling. Writer/director duo Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani's adaptation of this French pulp novel classic is truly something to behold, as they fully dedicate themselves to making a film that feels like it was sitting in a European film vault for several decades, just waiting to be sprung on the public. So while it's a little confusing to keep the characters straight, and the jumps back and forth through the timeline do take some getting used to, it doesn't take long to decide whether you're in for the ride, or eager to pass.
Unfortunately, more conventional audiences, and even some Tarantino fans, may not take to Let The Corpses Tan as well as those with a more eclectic taste will. It's an unconventional narrative that doesn't give any easy answers, when and if it decides to start doling them out. Some will no doubt try to decode or obsess over the meanings of the more outlandish imagery on display, and all that's going to do is prevent them from truly enjoying the ride. What it all boils down to is the following: if you're looking for a more story-based experience, then you're better off looking elsewhere. If you're looking for a lightning quick, violent as hell thrill ride that gets your heart pumping, you should feel free to Let The Corpses Tan.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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