The ever-fickle Tatiana had never seen Roman Polanski‘s Repulsion, so we watched it the night before last. It was like seeing it for the first time in a way as she was hooked from the start, despite the increasingly unsettled jagged-edge quality.

For like all great films, Repulsion isn’t so much about the destination as the ride…about a brilliant, increasingly disturbing blend of sharp observational details of mid ’60s Londön + Catherine Deneuve‘s blond hair and vacant eyes + an acute dread of sexuality + a gathering psychosis leading to a psychological meltdown (ticking clock, rape nightmares, cracks in a wall, a punctured cuticle, a rotting rabbit, arms pushing through walls, two male victims).

Shot in Löndon’s South Kensington district and at Twickenham Studios in the summer or early fall of ’64, Repulsion premiered at Cannes ’65 and opened stateside in late ’65 and early ’66.

Polanski has always been a highly exacting and demanding director, but because of Repulsion‘s extra-scrimpy budget (65,000 British pounds or roughly 1.5 million pounds today) he regards it as his “shoddiest” film, and the special effects as “sloppy.” And yet everyone regards Repulsion as a pantheon effort. It still holds me every time.

For whatever reason I’d never watched the making-of doc, David Gregory‘s A British Horror Film (’03), but I finally did on Saturday. A candid, penetrating, wholly fascinating look at a landmark slasher flick, the doc was featured on the Criterion Bluray, which popped on 7.28.09.

Small quibble: The world has confirmed over and over that Repulsion was projected in 1.66, and yet the Criterion web page says the aspect ratio is 1.85.

Polanski quote at the very beginning: “You can [interpret the film] as you want — it’s a free country. But don’t ask me to explain any of my pictures.”