187. The Fourth Man (Netherlands 1983)

Writer is ensnared by a predatory lover.

Starring: Jeroen Krabbe, Renee Soutendijk, Thom Hoffman

Director: Paul Verhoeven

FACT: The only film on the list in which a penis is cut off with a pair of scissors. Apart from 'That Darn Cat'.

Big Mistakes #1: Going to the 'A Tribute to Howard Kendall' night at The Fusilier, Prescot on 'the' wife's birthday .

Not a film for the easily offended. Religious iconoclasm on a grand scale, graphic sex of all persuasions and realistic looking emasculations make it a classic example of a 'good job nobody watches/subscribes to 'Film 4' type of film.

Director Verhoeven revels (not as good since they got rid of the coconut ones) in offending all sorts of sensibilities, not just the polite variety.

Krabbe plays alcoholic writer Gerard Reve (the name of the writer of both the film's screenplay and its source novel) who visits a miserable Dutch seaside town (as opposed to a fun filled Dutch seaside town) to give a talk on his work and is offered a room for the night by the enigmatic Christine (Soutendijk).

She'll have his eye out in a minute etc...

Reve is tortured by religious visions and premonitions of a terrible future. Crucifixes, blood, spiders and the Virgin Mary are all seen in literal and symbolic form throughout the film. The film opens with a spider casting a web around a crucifix just in case your in any doubt about the nature of obvious symbolism, and even better/worse is Christine's hotel/salon which is temporarily rechristened 'spin' (the Dutch ' word for 'spider') when a neon sign falters.

"Hello, Sooty!"

Christine falls for Gerard and temporarily 'cures' him of his gay inclinations (although he slips out once or twice when they're doing the dirty). Numerous ridiculous plot machinations (Verhoeven can't take anything too seriously) lead Gerard to discover that Christine collects and kills her lovers like a black widow spider and that his death is all but foretold.

That ceiling needs painting.

Anyway, a deliberately silly plot, and fairly disgusting on a number of levels, but brilliant cinematic imagery that draws on Dali, Magritte, Edward Hopper, 1980s French Cinema du Look, Ken Russell and 'Don't Look Now'.

The Fourth Man is a precursor of the very rubbish 'Black Widow' and the director's own 'Basic Instinct' (and despite its depravity it contains nothing as depraved as Michael Douglas's fucking horrible 'let's go down the disco' jumper).

Michael Douglas: scruffy bastard

Look out for a very poor eye puncturing towards the end of the film (the only thing that's better in 'Basic Instinct'. Apart from Sharon Stone. Obviously. Although Renee Soutendijk's well worth.......etc)