Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
Just look at that ridiculous title, Belphegor: Phantom of the Louvre (Netflix). Sure, it’s a translation from the French but the original isn’t any less ludicrous. To my delight the movie completely lives up to its tactless, in-your-face box art. Neither is shy about giving away the store vis a vis the design of the creature. Belphy gets a full on money shot in like the first 15 minutes, then spends the rest of the movie zooming around the museum like Slimer and creepily inhabiting/perving on Sophie Marceau. (Side note: Where the hell has Sophie Marceau been since The World is Not Enough and Braveheart?)
A few words about Belphegor, which is a real (well, you know what I mean) demon from Hebrew mythology. It is also an 80s German gothic band and a 2000s Austrian death/black metal band, the slash apparently being very important. The subtly of this distinction both confounds and amuses me. Coincidentally, according to some sources Belphegor (the demon, not the band) is at his peak power in April. Huzzah, timeliness!
Trouble is, Belphegor is not the name of the entity in the movie and the entity is a ghost, not a demon. So it has nothing to do with the Belphegor of legend. Nevertheless Belphegor is what the characters for no reason at all decide to call him, even though they know from the start he has a name and that’s not it. They might as well have called him Dracula.
The other thing that’s weird is how busy this movie is, crammed with activity and events, but how little of importance actually happens. One minute we’re in a club, then we’re in an apartment, then at the museum, then in a graveyard, then back to the museum. That’s an awful lot of traveling between scenes. It gets to be a little wearying, especially since most scenes don’t drive the narrative forward at all. Belphegor (whose name is not really Belphegor) kills a few people over the course of just a few days, which should be some insanely motivating shit. Yet there’s shockingly little anxiety about these supernatural deaths. Except for Marceau, who is working way harder than everyone else in the movie, no one has the slightest sense of urgency. “Eh, well, anuzzah veecteem of za creature ‘as been killed. We must investigate. But first, let us ‘ave some more KWASSONT.”
This is a nutty movie that isn’t going to be much fun if you’re looking for scares or tension. But for some reason, I kinda liked it. It just barely manages to pull off the mysterious-nighttime-happenings-in-a-museum sub-subgenre I always enjoy. (I loved The Relic for reasons passing understanding.) Probably that’s because they got permission to film huge chunks of the movie in and around The Louvre, which can’t help but add credibility.
Added Bonus: Though Belphegor is rather tame (as murderous poltergeist go), he shows his truly evil side late in the movie. Since things have quieted down a bit, the wise old police inspector takes the dignified head archeologist lady on a date. Just as these two senior citizens are about to knock some wrinkly old boots, Belphegor decides to raise a ruckus. Cock-blocked by a ghost!