Steve Simels
April 05, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Club Extinction

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Alan Bates, Jennifer Beals, Andrew McCarthy
director
Claude Chabrol
genre
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C-

Berlin, 1999: People all over the city are committing suicide in spectacularly messy ways, and the only clue as to why has something to do with a chain of Club Med-style resorts. That’s a fine premise for a thriller, but Club Extinction doesn’t remotely do it justice. Based on a pulp novel first filmed by Fritz Lang (in 1922, as Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, this is a standard-grade, low-budget European B movie. The plotting is absurd (with anachronistic elements; though the film is set in the future, the Berlin Wall has not yet come down); the stars — including the still fetching Jennifer Beals and the usually cool Alan Bates (doing what seems like an eccentric imitation of Albert Finney doing Hercule Poirot) — either overact or sleepwalk; and the pacing is lethargic verging on comatose. In fact, the only intriguing thing about the whole mess is that it was directed by Claude Chabrol, one of the luminaries of the French New Wave movement. It makes you wonder if Chabrol’s celebrated stylistic noncomformity is less a matter of design than a constitutional aversion to telling a straight story. (Consumer note: American Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy, third-billed on the tape box, has less than two minutes of total screen time.)

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