Narrated by a living "corpse" and steeped in the crushed hopes of the Prague Spring of 1968, this convoluted thriller marked the directing debut of Aldo Lado, who had previously worked with Bernardo Bertolucci. The body of American reporter Gregory Moore (Jean Sorel) is found in a Prague park and taken to the morgue. But Moore isn't dead, just completely paralyzed, his vital signs so faint that no-one detects them. As he lies on a gurney, listening to morgue attendants talk about him as though he were an object, Moore forces himself to remember the events that led him to this dreadful pass. Assigned to cover political affairs in Czechoslovakia, Moore has a beautiful Czech girlfriend, Mira (Barbara Bach), whom he promised to smuggle out of the country when he moved to his next posting. After taking Mira to a party at the home of some wealthy, well-connected contacts, Moore was called at home by colleague Jack (Mario Adorf) to meet an informer. The informer never showed, and when Moore returned to his apartment Mira was gone, apparently without having taken so much as her clothes. The police drag their feet, so Moore uses his reporting skills to investigate on his own and learns that Mira isn't the first young woman to have vanished under odd circumstances. His dogged sleuthing leads to the exclusive Klub 99, and he learns that several of party guests to whom he introduced Mira on the night she disappeared are members. With the reluctant help of his bureau chief, Jessica (Ingrid Thulin of THE DAMNED), who was Moore's on again/off again lover before Mira entered the picture (their affair clearly meant more to Jessica than to him), Moore finds evidence that Klub 99 is more than a cultural gathering place: it's connected to a conspiracy to preserve Czechoslovakia's old guard by destroying its idealistic youth. But before he can reveal what he's learned, Moore is dosed with a rare drug that induces a deathlike trance. In addition to the gimmick of the apparently dead narrator, Lado's first film features such odd touches as the bizarrely sadistic sequence involving a scientist who's discovered that plants can feel pain, which he demonstrates by recording their energy waves as he first pricks one with a knife and then crushes it in his hand, pulp running out between his fingers. The ending is a genuine shocker.
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- Released: 1971
- Rating: R
- Review: Narrated by a living "corpse" and steeped in the crushed hopes of the Prague Spring of 1968, this convoluted thriller marked the directing debut of Aldo Lado, who had previously worked with Bernardo Bertolucci. The body of American reporter Gregory Moore (… (more)