23 July, 2006

OPERATION RED LIPS: The EURO Versions...



by ROBERT MONELL:
The BLUE UNDERGROUND SE of TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS and KISS ME MONSTER is certainly recommendable for the new interviews with Jess Franco which are included as supplements to the features, not to mention remastered anamorphic transfers of these two "Red Lips" adventures. While these are very entertaining films, there also exist the rarely seen and even more rarely reviewed Spanish language variants, filmed back to back on Spanish locations-Studio Roma in Madrid, Murcia, Alicante, Marbella, Malaga and Munich, W.Germany during 1967 on the same sets, featuring the same casts, following the production of NECRONOMICON aka SUCCUBUS, which was lensed in Lisbon and Berlin. Here's a report on what you won't be seeing and hearing on the BU "Red Lips" discs.

The significantly different, alternate Spanish language version of TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS, EL CASO DE LAS DOS BELLEZAS is 88m and much of the extra footage consists of extended dialogue and some transitional scenes. There's one scene, where Agent McClune intercepts Regina in the middle of EL CASO.., which actually appears at the opening of KISS ME MONSTER, the English language variant of BESAME MONSTRUO. Given the contexts the dialogue in the scene changes depending on which version of which film you watch. There's also a blooper in EL CASO...(but considering Franco's penchant for cinematic tricksterism, who knows?) showing the cleaning lady of Klaus Tiller's Gallery of Horrors frozen at her cue as she waits to spring into action at her window washing chores. She's already busy at work as the scene opens in...ANGELS. There are also some graphics printed over the image, pop-art style ["JAZZ 68"] in EL CASO...which were removed from ...ANGELS. Most significantly, perhaps, ...ANGELS opens with the first scene in the fashion house interrupted by the main credits after the model wishes aloud that she were married. In EL CASO... the scene unfolds uninterrupted through Michel Lemoine's wolfman attack on the model which is then followed by the opening credits. EL CASO..., because of Spanish censorship restrictions (which Franco mentions in the BU interview), is the "covered" version; for instance, the striptease watched by Tiller is obscured in shadows while the dancer appears topless in ...ANGELS. BESAME MONSTRUO is also the "covered" version of KISS ME MONSTER.

The language tracks of the English and Spanish versions are also structured and employed differently. For instance, the model's aforementioned line of dialogue was obviously created by the English scripters to add an additional moment of humor to the English language track as it isn't in EL CASO...at all. The result is that a moment of quiet suspense preceding a horrific werewolf attack is upset by a sitcom stinger. In fact, there are a number of instances in ...ANGLES where new dialogue was created and dubbed over moments which were dialogue-free in EL CASO... . Consider the exchange between two spectators observing the bridal display, the bickering couple were silent in EL CASO... . There's an interactive moment in EL CASO...where Regina (Rosanna Yanni) turns to the camera and asks the operator to zoom in on her so she can get out of bed without revealing that she's nude in longshot (the zoom-in on demand is both a stylistic in-joke and perhaps Franco's send-up of the Spanish censors of the era). The joke is extended in EL CASO when the DP answers that it wasn't in the plan but this additional line is not retained or translated on the English track of ...ANGELS. Was this dropped to save the time and costs of translating and dubbing ALL the Spanish dialogue? If so, then why was new English language dialogue written and dubbed over other scenes which were silent? It's not just that the Spanish language humor wouldn't translate and they had to find replacements and approximations, the English language scripters also altered the texture and tone of EL CASO... .

If the Spanish version can be described as deliriously prolix, the English language script adds even more dialogue while minimizing Franco's auteurist ribbing and is generally more Monty Pythonesque than the brusque, allusive Spanish back and forth, which is loaded with cinema references a la Jean Luc Godard. EL CASO... was pretty much turned into a sexy, mainstreamish comedy by these editing and dubbing choices, losing much of its darker, more Franco-specific references and humor and its identity as a cutting edge Pop Art satire of the then fashionable injection of sexual violence into Pop Art, mid 1960's cinema fads and Spanish popular culture of that time. EL CASO... is more of a horror film painted with jet black humor, an essay in (to invoke one of the film's alternate titles) Sadisterotica. EL CASO... had a different music score, by longtime Franco friend and collaborator, the late Fernando G. Morcillo, who went on to score one of Franco's most personal projects, the delightful, live action cartoon LOS BLUES DE LA CALLE POP (aventuras de Felipe Marlboro, volumen 8)(1983). As in that later film, Morcillo's dixieland-style jazz cues, played at full throttle with big band instrumentation, are used for ironic counterpoint and commentary, punctuating the action (listen how the 7 note sting is repeatedly played after the Red Lips are saved from one serial-style cliffhanger after another) rather than just adding atmosphere, which is the main funciton of the nonetheless perfectly acceptable, and sometimes quite catchy, Jerry Van Rooyen music heard on the TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS soundtrack. Van Rooyen also scored the English language version of BESAME MONSTRUO as well as SUCCUBUS. The English versions of these two Red Lips films were post-produced for Anglo-American tastes and took into accounts variances between them and Spanish cultural considerations. German producer and Aquila executive Adrian Hoven (MARK OF THE DEVIL) was a popular singer and actor in Germany and a cultured businessman who created German and other export versions back in Berlin. Acquired by Atlas International-Munich, then sold to distributors around the world who added/cut footage, dubbed/dropped music/voice tracks, retitling the films for various national markets.

We'll be taking a detailed look at the differences between the Spanish and English language versions of KISS ME MONSTER in the future...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent notes about the differences between the director's cut and the German versions. I send the Spanish versions to BU on DVD-R. Didn't they use them as extras?

Francesco

Robert Monell said...

Thank you for the compliment, Francesco. I hope they did use examples of the Spanish version. This would make a terrific extra, I haven't seen the BU discs yet, just the AB editions and then the Spanish originals. I hope the EL CASO...version comes out on Spanish DVD or the new Blu Ray format in the future.

Francesco Cesari said...

A pair of years ago a Spanish disc of BESAME MONSTRUO was announced, but it wasn't yet released. The right owner is Cerezo, the same who owns the Golden and Manacoa Films.

Robert Monell said...

Unfortunate that these couldn't be part of the BU set as extra features. You would have to have Eng subtitles, of course, and the rights may be expensive. I wouldn't be surprised if they appear in Spain in the future as Spanish language only releases. The one I am most interested in is the first Red Lips LABIOS ROJOS, but no one else seems to be interested in it...

Francesco Cesari said...

The very few people who viewed LABIOS ROJOS talk about this film as one of JF's best.

Robert Monell said...

Carlos Aguilar considers it one of his best films ever. It's described in OBSESSION as a "Spanish film noir", that makes me want to see it. It is also important for historical reasons.