La Cité de la peur

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

La cité de la peur ("The City of Fear") is a 1994 movie written by and starring the French comedy Group Les Nuls, and directed by Alain Berberian. Heavily inspired in tone by the ZAZ movies, it is considered to be one of the few examples of a successful attempt to transpose a television comedy group to the big screen.

The plot is as follows : Odile Deray, a publicist, has trouble promoting an atrociously bad horror movie, Red is Dead, about a Communist-themed serial killer. But just as the Cannes Film Festival starts, the projectionists of the movie get killed one by one by what seems to be a copycat of the movie's killer. Jumping on the occasion, she decides to use this unwanted publicity for building up the hype around the movie. As such, she gets the main actor of the movie, Simon Jérémi, to come to the festival, and hires a bodyguard, Serge Karamazov, to look after the two of them. Meanwhile, detective Patrick Biallès tries to resolve the murders, and additionally starts a relationship with Odile. Cue completely surreal scenes and parodies for 90 minutes.

The movie has quite a fanbase, and is often seen as one of the funniest French comedies made -- not that there were many competitors during the 90's if you except Le Diner de Cons a.k.a. Dinner for Schmucks a few years later.

Tropes used in La Cité de la peur include:

Serge: (after watching all the luminous neons and signposts with the mention 'Odile Deray' directed at Odile) Are you Odile Deray ?
Odile: No, I'm the Pope and I'm waiting for my sister.

Simon: Die, communist scum !

  • Cat Scare: The banana. To elaborate: at some point Emile is told he could be shot by an isolated sniper, but "that would be really unlucky". A few seconds later, a passerby reaches for something in his vest while looking at him... and produces a banana.
  • Credits Gag: The movie credits Bruce Wayne as Batman, Tullavu as Kim Onku ("Have you seen it ? What ? My ass !"), Gaston as the gaffer, or Çaenfait played by Dumondehein ("there are a lot of people, aren't there ?"). There's also a line about the number of sugar lumps put by one of the actresses in her teacup and how people should watch the movie again just to count them.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Simon: "Did I mention I'm a projectionist? Incidentally, he's the first projectionist to survive the murderer.
  • Dirty Communists: Red is Dead's killer.
  • The Ditz: Simon Jérémi, oh. so much. We're introduced to him by way of his being attended by a hostess just like a child who'd have to take a plane alone, and as he's asked if he has luggage, he immediately answers that if he's been told to come, nobody told him to take some luggage with him...
  • Don't Explain the Joke

Serge: I'm Serge Karamazov. Not related, I'm an only child.

Biallès: Do you want a whiskey ?
Odile: Just a finger. (IOW: just a little bit)
Biallès: Are you sure you don't want a whiskey first ?

  • Foreshadowing: "Hey, look ! The killer has cut his finger !"
    • "I'm gonna die in two minutes!"
  • Gratuitous English: More like a case of Gratuitous English Accent, but still:

Serge: I think we're dealing with a serial killer. (American accent, dramatic music)
Odile: A what ?
Serge: A serial killer. (same accent, same dramatic music)
Odile: A what ?
Serge: *sighs* A sérial killeur (drops the accent)
Odile: Aaaaaah, a serial killer. (American accent, dramatic music)