Monday, October 12, 2009

Midi Minuit and the Jupiter Hunt

This still from Rene Cardona's La Terrificante Bestia Humana (Night of the Bloody Apes aka Sex Beast, '69) is but one of the many treasures residing in midi/minuit Fantastique No. 24.

A film I like very much, it was afforded great respect within these pages.

Before Cinefantastique and before L'Ecran Fantastique, there was midi/minuit Fantastique, the brainchild of Eric Losfeld.

Like me, it was born in '62, and its first subject for deep analysis was Terence Fisher.

In subsequent issues, it covered King Kong, Roger Corman, Jean Pierre Mocky (a wonderful, underrated figure), Jacques Torneur, Edgar G. Ulmer, Roman Polanski, Pierre Etaix (one of France's greatest comedians/filmmakers), and Koji Wakamatsu.

I can't understate how far ahead of its time this magazine was. In the 60's, nobody was taking fantasy, horror, and science fiction films as seriously as this.

In this 24th issue, for example, over forty pages were devoted to the life and work of Gaston Leroux, the French pulp writer behind Phantom of the Opera and a myriad of amazing tales that energized the genre for generations.

Jupiter (France, '71)

I was very young when I came across a large stash of these magazines. I've managed to unearth and experience many titles found within its covers, but the film from which this still was taken, Jupiter (Jean Pierre Prevost, 71), has eluded me.

Has anybody reading this seen Jupiter? Perhaps it's been retitled? Released in a dubbed version somewhere? If you know anything about it, please let me know. Then we'll all know.

Clearly, it focused on vampirism. This image shares visual similarities with Count Yorga, so I am extremely eager to see it. I've been fascinated with this film for decades, but my attempts to unearth a copy (in any format) have been fruitless so far.

If there are other films that you've obsessed about for decades, I'd like to know what they are. Please write.

Jupiter's director, Jean Pierre Provost, has 31 imdb credits, and appears to have moved into TV early on in his long career. He directed as recently as 2008.

I read about Jean Rollin, one of my favorite directors, in midi/minuit long before I saw an actual moving frame of his work. Although I understood no French in my pre- and early teen years, a helpful neighbor lady translated several articles for me in exchange for babysitting duties.

I still remember her reading this piece on Rollin to me. It was fascinating and magical, and I was buoyed by the fact that my lady translator was becoming passionate about these films also, even though she had not seen any of them.

Thus began my love for one of cinema's most idiosyncratic and individualistic filmmakers.

Mr. Eric Losfeld could not have dreamed that Mr. Rollin's work would one day be honored with editions such as this:

It's been a fascinating journey from mid/minuit Fantastique to the genre blogosphere.


  1. Cheers for this fab post! Is that nude woman with the giant crab a still from an actual film?

    Wish I could help on the Jupiter front. Prevost's films don't seem to be too easily accessible, eh? I'm very interested in getting a hold of Juan Piquer Simon's Beyond Terror and Pierre B. Reinhard's Tracking (in a non-shitty bootleg format ofc).

  2. d -- the nude woman is Victoria Vetri (a stunner) from WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. Posed, of course (unfortunately).

    The Simon and Reinhard films you mentioned are on my holy grail list, too.

    I'm also lacking a great many Arturo Ripstein films.

  3. Trivia: The nude woman was also in ROSEMARY'S BABY- in a clothed role and using the stage name Angela Dorian- as the Castevet's boarder, Terry. In the laundry room scene, Mia Farrow says Terry reminds her of the actress "Veronica Vetri."

    (I wonder: Why would anyone with a lovely and seductive name like "Veronica Vetri" change it to the forgetable "Angela Dorian?")

  4. Howard S. Berger might be able to help you with 'Jupiter'; he's a FB chum, and he seems very well informed and versed in such films...

  5. mandingo -- perhaps Mr. Berger is the go-to guy for this. I thought I knew my stuff, but clearly not well enough because I can't locate this (or a review).