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Usually misattributed to the horror genre, this challenging and highly unusual drama stars Isabelle Adjani as a young woman who forsakes her husband (Sam Neill) and her lover (Heinz Bennent) for a bizarre, tentacled creature that she keeps in a run-down Berlin apartment. In the beginning, her husband knows nothing about the monster and sincerely believes that his wife is insane. He has her tailed by private detectives, whom she kills and feeds to the creature. Still unaware of what has happened, the husband contends with the reserved and inadvertently seductive presence of his wife's look-alike (also played by Adjani), a schoolteacher who frequently comes to tutor his son while his wife is away. Though tempted by her quiet goodness and beauty, he is still passionately in love with his wife and even after he finds out about the murders, he stays by her side and helps her conceal her crimes. Filmed amidst the oppressive backdrop of the Berlin Wall by the expatriate Polish director Andrzej Zulawski (who was unable to work in his homeland after too many clashes with the authorities), the picture is so relentlessly intense and so deliberately esoteric, that most viewers would find it too hard to connect with. Still its symbolism, its unbridled and flashy directorial style, and the tour de force performance by Isabelle Adjani earned this unique tale a cult following in Europe. The version originally released in the U.S. had 45 minutes chopped out; in this form, it is barely comprehensible and looks like a cheap, gory feast. ~ Yuri German, Rovi

  • Release date:October 28, 1983


Awarded by
São Paulo International Film Festival Andrzej Zulawski Critics Award 1981 Winner
French Academy of Cinema Isabelle Adjani Best Actress 1981 Winner
Cannes Film Festival Isabelle Adjani Best Actress 1981 Winner
Fantasporto Film Festival (Porto) Isabelle Adjani Best Actress 1983 Winner


Isabelle Adjani
as Anna
Isabelle Adjani
as Helen
Sam Neill
as Marc
Heinz Bennent
as Heinrich
Margit Carstensen
as Margie
Shaun Lawton
as Zimmerman
Michael Hogben
as Bob
Johanna Hofer
as Mother
Carl Duering
as Detective
Maximilian Ruethlein
as Man with pink socks
Leslie Malton
as Sara
Herbert Chwoika
Ilse Bahrs


Andrzej Zulawski
Marie-Laure Reyre
Frederic Tuten
Andrzej Zulawski
Bruno Nuytten
Andrzej Korzynski
Composer (Music Score)
Marie-Sophie Dubus
Suzanne Lang-Willar
Holger Gross
Art Director
Ingrid Zore
Costume Designer
Karl Laabs
Sound/Sound Designer
Andrzej Jaroszewicz
Camera Operator
Jean-Jose Richer
Production Manager
Carlo Rambaldi
Creature Design
Carlo Rambaldi
Creature Effects