Roman Polanski’s Repulsion – his first film in English – was concerned with a repressed young Belgian woman, Carol Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve), who works as a manicurist in a beauty salon full of elderly clients who emerge from treatment looking like witches in young girls’ wigs.
Her employer overlooks her moments of apparent vagueness – even when she deliberately pierces one woman’s finger with nail clippers and sits hypnotised by the splashing blood . . .
Carol’s revulsion (and yet fascination) for men and her fear of sex leads her to withdraw into paranoid isolation in an apartment in London’s South Kensington.
She then proceeds to brutally murder her would-be boyfriend (John Fraser) and slash her lecherous landlord (Patrick Wymark) to death with a razor when they attempt to establish contact with her.
We follow Carol’s descent into madness through her eyes, from the minutely observed obsession with cracks in the pavement to the terrifying hallucinations which crowd in on her.
The film’s sense of oppressive decay is symbolised by the image of a foetus-like skinned rabbit stuffed into Deneuve’s handbag.
Repulsion was a lean, finely-etched film full of powerful images which the British censor, John Trevelyan, left untouched. All in all, one of the most intelligent horror movies ever made and certainly one of the most frighteningly effective.