Incorporating fantasy, horror and science fiction, the French fantastique genre offers many weird and wonderful delights.
From the very first films by the Lumière brothers, French cinema has been perceived as tending towards the real; but there’s an alternative tradition that also stretches back to the dawn of cinema – that of the fantastique.
It incorporates elements of fantasy, horror and science fiction into bizarre, atmospheric tales in which the unexplained and the supernatural intrude into reality.
From the magical illusions of Georges Méliès, the fantastique flourished again during the German occupation, reached poetic heights in the films of Jean Cocteau and Georges Franju, and was revitalised in the post-New Wave 1970s and beyond.
Successive Slidings of Pleasure
Drama1974106 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Alain Robbe-Grillet’s serpentine erotic mystery presented as a surreal investigation into a woman with feared sexual powers.
Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.
Eden and After
Drama196998 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Alain Robbe-Grillet’s sensual fantasy follows a group of students who enter a bizarre sado-masochistic realm after taking a mysterious drug.
Eyes without a Face
Horror196090 minsDirector: Georges Franju
Georges Franju’s gorgeous, poetic horror film about a surgeon’s dark obsession with restoring his daughter’s disfigured face.
Animation & Artists Moving Image197372 minsDirector: René Laloux
René Laloux and Roland Topor’s surreal, psychedelic sci-fi animation imagines a world in which humanoid creatures are kept as pets by a race of giants.
The Iron Rose
Drama197380 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
A pair of lovers have a tryst in a vacant tomb, but then find themselves unable to escape from the graves and crypts of the massive cemetery.
Comedy197598 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
An outrageous classic of erotic cinema, Walerian Borowczyk’s playful and subversive fantasy finds a horny heiress courting the ravenous desires of a wild beast.
The Immortal One
Drama1962101 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
The debut feature from famed novelist and screenwriter Alain Robbe-Grillet is a daring examination of fantasy and memory set in Turkey.
La Belle et la Bête
Fantasy194695 minsDirector: Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau’s ravishingly restored 1946 film is a cinematic classic. “Five stars. [This] magical exploration of the fairytale is a compelling and bizarre masterpiece” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Celine and Julie Go Boating
Drama1974194 minsDirector: Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette’s biggest commercial hit is an exhilarating combination of theatricality, paranoia and ‘la vie parisienne’, around an entrancing examination of making and watching films.
Night of the Hunted
Horror198091 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin’s stylish and futuristically surreal horror about patients at a mysterious clinic whose memories are disintegrating.
Requiem for a Vampire
197287 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
Two female fugitives hide out in a deserted castle, only to become embroiled in a plot to extend the bloodline of a horde of blood-crazed vampires.
The Nude Vampire
Horror196985 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin’s second vampire film is a mesmerisingly surreal art-horror, short on logic but steeped in gorgeously sensual imagery.
Shiver of the Vampires
Horror197095 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
Newlyweds visit their cousins at a remote rural chateau, finding them under the spell of two vampire girls.
The Grapes of Death
Horror197891 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
A woman visiting Roublès deep in France’s winemaking country discovers that the pesticide being sprayed on vineyards is turning people into killer zombies.
The Living Dead Girl
Horror198390 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
When toxic waste spill disturbs her grave, a deceased girl comes alive to walk the earth again in Jean Rollin's macabre tale of zombie carnage.
Horror197982 minsDirector: Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin’s best-known film is the most full-blooded of his vampire tales, teeming with sex and lavishly filmed gore scenes