Because this is an anthology film, I am going to review the three sections as three seperate things. I will probably talk about how the sections inter-relate, but mostly it will be about the sections as individual things.
The first section is a fun little story about the Renaissance-era painter Raphael, and his mistress. There is a crazy labyrinth that leads into the Vatican, and it is just fun to watch totally improbable Renaissance technology at work. There is quite a lot of sex, and a bit of violence as well - the mistress kills some guys with poisoned cherries and someone stabs a man's eye with a skewer.
But this is nothing compared to the insane violence that occurs in the second section. It starts out as a weird, slightly bestial coming of age story, with a young woman using her pet rabbit as a masturbatory aid. Huh. Okay. Then you are introduced to the young woman's parents, and, if you have read Angela Carter's short story The Fall River Axe Murders, about the infamous murderess Lizzie Borden, you can pretty much tell where this is going. Except that in this movie, it's even more messed up, because the young woman is (kinda, sorta) raped, and then the rapist hangs himself in front of her eyes. While pleading to be cut down. Which she doesn't do.
And after that completely insane (but very effective) segment, we are left thinking, "oh, where the hell can it go from here? It started out fun and silly, got extremely violent, where to next? Is it going to get even more violent and crazy? Is it going to get even more awesome in a weird, psycho-sexual sort of a way?" But no. What we get instead is an episode of Lassie. Honestly. The last segment is just a goddamn epsiode of Lassie. A woman gets kidnapped, and her goddamn dog comes to rescue her. Alright, to be fair, there is an awkward and tedious rape scene (it doesn't seem particularly violent, nor particularly exciting, so I don't really understand why it's in there except that Walerian Borowczyk (how is that a name) thought it needed some spicing up, which the scene patently failed to do), and the dog does bite the guy in the balls, but apart from that, its just a lot of scenes of a dog running, interspersed with scenes of two people sitting in the bag of a van. Oh, and after the guy was bitten in the balls, he decided it would be a good idea to summersault into a nearby river, even though when he was bitten in the balls he was inside. So, he summersaulted out of the door, down the bank, down and the boardwalk, and then into the river. That is some powerful ball biting right there. It is also kind of hinted at that the woman and the dog will go on to have some sort of sexual relationship, but I didn't know or care about it at all, so I didn't really bother to try and work out what was happening at that point.
Why did he think I wanted to watch an episode of Lassie? Why would anyone want to watch an episode of Lassie? What the hell?