Hannah Lack’s column is devoted to discovering the best in cult and underground cinema
Delirious and melodramatic, Juraj Herz’s Morgiana is a kind of Czech version of legendary classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? When notorious arch-rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were paired for that psychological thriller, the Hollywood queens locked horns in spectacular style. Herz’s shoot had no such worries – actress Iva Janžurov plays both roles; the blonde innocent victim and her cruel raven-haired sister, intent on slowly poisoning her sibling to death. “Drinking at breakfast again?” she deadpans, watching her sister sip from a poison-loaded glass. Based on a story by the “Russian Edgar Allen Poe” Alexander Grin, it’s art directed in spectacular Gothic style, (think Aubrey Beardsley meets Edward Gorey), occasionally shooting from the point of view of a blue-eyed Siamese cat, Morgiana. Herz’s deranged tale was the last film of the Czech New Wave, and it’s released for the first time on DVD by the wonderful Second Run label on October 11. Today AnOther premieres an exclusive clip from the film, in which our evil sister plunges into a fabric-inspired frenzy.
Text by Hannah Lack
Morgiana is available here
Hannah Lack is Film Editor of Dazed & Confused magazine, Literary Editor of AnOther Magazine and Contributing Editor at Nowness.com