06 September, 2007

BANGKOK, CITY OF THE DEAD (1985)


Since I don't have an image from Jess Franco's BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE (1985) here's a screenshot from a similar no-budget production made back to back with it, VIAJE A BANGKOK, ATAUD INCLUIDO, inspired by the stories of Edgar Wallace! Behind the counter is my friend, and reader of this blog, the Spanish film historian/critic/novelist Carlos Aguilar with JF regular Howard Vernon. Thanks to our regular blog contributor Nzoog for pointing out [he has actually seen VIAJE... ]that it is listed as a "Manacoa Films/Madrid" production, indicating it was financed by Jess Franco's own company, rather than Golden Films Internacional production as I first posted. I do wonder though, considering that scenes for BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE were shot during the production of VIAJE... according to JF, if these two titles are another example of Franco making two films for the price of one. Nzoog also adds that Katja Bienert (EUGENIE, HISTORIA DE UNA PERVERSION) was originally cast as the female lead in VIAJE...., only to be replaced by the comparitively insipid Helena Garret, also the female lead in BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE (Nzoog offers the English translation, BANGKOK, APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH).


BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE is a fun, frenetically staged, crime/adventure/martial arts conglomerate shot in very bright Fujicolor by the resourceful Juan Soler Cozar. A frenzied lark with a downbeat ending and another Franco obscurity. Bork Gordon (Christian Bork) plays the role of Panama Joe, a Private Eye very much in the rumpled mold of Peter Falk's COLUMBO. I only know this film from the unfortunate VSOM video dub taken from Spanish TV. If anyone knows of a good DVD version, please contact me. I would also welcome a rare advert.

It opens with shots of the characters introducing themselves with dialogue written in what looks like a magic marker pen very crudely printed in cartoon balloons. The direction is credited to "Cliffor Brawm"[!]... No, that's not a typo. A new take on Franco's old Clifford Brown nom de plume.

Lots of stock footage of Bangkok and Macao intercut with scenes shot in Alicante and the Canary Islands. Antonio Mayans is the Fu Manchu-like villain, complete with an elaborate moustache. Lina Romay is the pirate, Queen Aminia. She looks pretty sleek in black karate gear. As in VIAJE... Carlos Aguilar was assistant director and plays a role. If anyone can tell me where to find him in the film I would appreciate it.

Another strange series Z Golden Films Internacional programmer with some of the most absurd martial arts "action" scenes West of Godfrey Ho!

Look for the always excellent Eduardo Fajardo (DJANGO; LISA AND THE DEVIL) as a millionaire who is not what he appears to be. The "Pablo Villa" score takes off from the themes of Franco's 1960s Fu Manchu epics. But I enjoy this more and it seems like it has the unique Franco signature which those films lack.

Thanks again to Nzoog for the additional information on these titles.


(C) Robert Monell, 2007


9 comments:

Nzoog Wahrlfhehen said...

As far as I remember, VIAJE A BANGKOK is a Manacoa production, but then "Golden Films" is like a synecdoche" for "Franco's early-to-mid 80s output with production management by Mayans" . Franco, in fact, told you (I seem to remember) that EL MIRÓN Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA was a Golden Films production.
Carlos Aguilar claims that BANGKOK, CITA CON CON LA MUERTE (literally: "Bangkok, an appointment with death" was made without a script.

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for the clarification on the title and the prod co. I wonder, though, if one of these two films was made with leftover GOLDEN FILMS INTERNACIONAL production money as Franco has done in the past. He would have gotten two films made for the price of one. MANACOA indicates his own production company. GOLDEN FILM is definitely listed as the producer of CITA... but I don't have VIAJE. It would be interesting to see what co is name on that print if anyone has seen it. CITA looks really rushed, as if it were made in a few days. And why is Christian Bork credited as "Bork Gordon" in CITA... ? Franco states in OBSESSION... that he shot exteriors for CITA during the production of VIAJE... .

Nzoog Wahrlfhehen said...

I'm almost positive VIAJE...is Manacoa. In the Mayans interview, he says that Lárraga, despite his dishonesty, was happy enough so long as he was given a certain amount of film on time and budget and didn't really control what was going on beneath him.
Katja Bienert was going to be the female lead but she flipped off or something and was replaced by Helen Garret. The guy playing Aguilar's father is an Asian type! The late José Llamas's fisticuffs aren't bad.

Robert Monell said...

It says it was produced by Manacoa in OBSESSION. I still wonder if Larraga ended up unknowingly financing two films with only CITA credited to GOLDEN. Helena Garrett is very insipid in CITA, which is the film's main flaw.

filomeno said...

Carlos Aguilar, destacable autor en materia de literatura cinematográfica

Robert Monell said...

Welcome to the blog, filomeno. Thanks for your comment.

filomeno said...

Thank You from Spain, Friend Monell.

Anonymous said...

robert, i'm sure carlos aguilar is the guy talking with howard venom in the picture.

greetings from spain!

Robert Monell said...

Yes, that's him. And I think I found him playing the hotel waiter in BANGKOK CITY CON LA MUERTE. Welcome to the blog, anon from Spain.