Video Review

Club Extinction (1991)

MPAA Rating: R
EW's GRADE
C-

Details Movie Rated: R; Genre: Mystery and Thriller; With: Alan Bates and Jennifer Beals

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.)

Originally posted Apr 05, 1991 Published in issue #60 Apr 05, 1991 Order article reprints