The Saragossa Manuscript, 1965 [ ADD ]
Director: Wojciech Has
Availability: Medium (available on DVD from Image Entertainment)

The Saragossa Manuscript isn’t your typical horror movie. It doesn’t have jump-out-and-grab-you scares, there’s no blood, and you won’t be biting your nails because of its intensity. Rather, it’s a Polish movie based on an early 19th century epic by Jan Potocki. It’s described as a “Chinese box” of stories-within-stories-within-stories, creating a multi-layered masterpiece with tales of ghosts and lesbian demon sisters (yes, really). The book covers close to 700 pages and 69 days. The movie only takes on about a tenth of those days, but trust me: that’s enough. In this three hour film there are so many little stories, requiring significant thought just to keep the characters straight, let alone the intertwining plotlines.

This movie had a profound impact on Jerry Garcia and apparently influenced his entire musical career. I know about as much about the Grateful Dead as I do about Polish horror, though, so I’m just trusting the word of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola (who were responsible for the restoration of The Saragossa Manuscript). Nonetheless, if you enjoy being challenged by your movies, you’ll want to take a peek at this relatively unknown treat from Poland.