A haunted nightclub starts to affect a couple’s relationship.
Marc and Emma (Clovis Cornillac and Julie Depardieu. Yes, Gerard Depardieu’s daughter) are young, recently married, and new homeowners. However, it turns out that their house used to be the site of a literally underground spot in 1979 called L’Ambigu. As the name apparently suggests in French (I don’t get it, but apparently it’s a joke), the nightclub was a gay disco. One night, during a foam party, the foam machine malfunctioned and exploded, killing a number of people, including five of the most enthusiastic dancers, whose remains were, somehow, not found: Michel, Salopette/Shaggy, Gilles, Ivan, and Bertrand (Philippe Duquesne, Lionel Abelanski, Jean-Michel Lahmi, Georges Gay, Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus). In the present, it turns out that Marc can see these fantastic phantoms, but Emma cannot, nor can Marc’s friend David (Alain Fromager). This leads Emma to think Marc is going nuts from being secretly gay, something that results in her leaving him when he accidentally hits her father with a shovel.
However, Marc finds out that he’s neither crazy nor closeted when he discovers that any “pure” straight man (a man who has had no homosexual contact) can see the ghosts as well. Now that he starts to bond with the ghosts with the help of paranormal expert Professor de Sorgues (Michel Duchaussoy), the five poltergeists agree to help Marc win Emma back. Eventually, they succeed and even open up the world’s first intermingled living and dead gay disco.
Most of my “B Movie Saturday” selections are based around the high standard of “whatever has a funny title” and you cannot tell me this movie doesn’t nail that particular requirement. I’m surprised that a movie with that title didn’t come out during the ‘80s, although I imagine that anything coming out back then with this title would probably have been insensitive to the point of being unwatchable. Instead, this movie starts off feeling like that kind of film, then somehow manages to subvert most of your expectations enough that it ends up being pretty entertaining. Also, despite being labeled a “horror” comedy on Amazon Prime, the only thing horrifying about this movie is that the ghosts are kind of perverted and invasive of Marc’s privacy (including watching him and Emma have sex and photographing him nude), although they’re from the 1970s, so I guess consent has come a long way.
The only comment I saw about this movie before watching it was a complaint on Amazon that all of the ghosts are reminiscent of the overly flamboyant gay stereotypes that populated cinema for most of its history. The word “mincing” was used in the statement, which might be why it appears to have been pulled since. The thing is, I think that’s really only true of the characters in terms of appearance. All of them are dressed in their finest, but of course they are, they died in a nightclub. They all have very different personalities and, while they do mostly enjoy messing with Marc, they all appear to be doing it for different reasons. Hell, Gilles even insists throughout the movie that, despite all appearances and his love of looking at nude men, that he’s straight and was only at the club “for the dancing.” This would be a lousy running gag if it weren’t played so seriously and if it didn’t end with him meeting the ghost of a dead Roman who died in a bathhouse that he was at “just for the bathing.” The two hit it off, naturally, and both quickly drop any pretense of being straight. It’s kind of an interesting character arc, particularly when the movie hints at why, even after dying, Gilles is so hesitant to admit his sexuality.
The key to the movie is that it is just campy enough, just caring enough, and just well-written enough to keep you hooked throughout. You do start to like all of the characters and want them to be happy. Yes, a number of parts of the film are goofy as hell, but they’re the right kind of light-hearted comedy that never feels like they’re punching down at anyone. It’s a fun film and that’s clearly what they wanted to make. The biggest downside appears to be that many of the jokes in the movie don’t work as well when you have to read them. However, even with the subtitles, you’re going to have a good time.
Overall, a pretty solid foreign comedy.
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