24 November, 2009

The Jess Franco Online Video Guide: SHINING SEX -Toei Video

Another entry into THE JESS FRANCO ONLINE HOME VIDEO GUIDE, an ongoing project for the last year based on my CINEMADROME site. Go to http://www.cinemadrome.yuku.com/ THE WORLD OF JESS FRANCO FORUM to read previous entries.

SHINING SEX {onscreen title}
[aka Shining Sex-La Fille au Sexe Brillant]

AR 1.33:1
Language options: English with Japanese subtitles

Directed by Dan L. Simon [Jess Franco]
PC: Eurocine [France]; Brux Interfilm [Belgium]
Cast: Cynthia (Lina Romay), Alpha (Evelyne Scott); Andros (Ramon Ardid), Ms Pecame (Monica Swinn), Dr. Kallman/Van Helsing (Olivier Mathot), Simon Berger (Boris), Jess Franco (Dr. Seward).

Synopsis: Cynthia, an exotic dancer in a upscale resort in Southern France, is seduced by a strange couple, Alpha, a being from another dimension and her human slave, Andros. Alpha places highly toxic matter (which also has hypnotic powers) into Cynthia's sex during love-making. From then on she will be a helpless pawn in a plot to destroy a psychic and a biologist who have become aware of the alien invasion and pose a threat to the plan.

Commentary: "A superior force obliges me to love you and then to kill you," Cynthia tells one of her victims. That could be a plot description of dozens of films and the love/death theme is central to his . No-budget SF-SEX [as a pre-feature onscreen title card added by Toei Video announces] esoterica with a very effective performance by Lina as the tragic Cynthia. This film has very little dialogue and an outre ambiance supported by a soundtrack which includes strange, industrial type sounds [SHINING SEX is also the name of an Industrial-Experimental music group], minimalist locations [the hotel in Southern France where this was lensed was also used for the equally no-budget Franco spy-comedy THE MIDNIGHT PARTY, another 1975 item which utilized virtually the same cast, crew and was shot back-to-back with this film], and, in this longer version, a weird extended boat ride down a river with white horses and exotic animals on its banks.

This could be termed as Fantastique cinema and almost seems like a Jean Rollin film at times. Very under appreciated and one of the director's rare excursions into science fiction (cf EL SEXO ESTA LOCO). This version is approximately 15 minutes [!] longer than the hardcore French version, which will be discussed in another entry in the JESS FRANCO ONLINE VIDEO GUIDE. This version is highly recommended over the hardcore, which subtracts even more footage for the scenes.

Franco's telezoom [he acted as his own DP] is, once again, relentless, but, in this context, an appropriate tool used to explore sexual/emotional/spatial/architectural/geometrical patterns while arranging them into cubist compositions.

Jess Franco is quite convincing as the paralyzed, occultist-psychiatrist, Dr. Seward, who attempts to save Cynthia from the alien plot. This before-the-fact, unintended AIDS allegory, is powerful stuff seen from a contemporary perspective. It's poetic sexploitation of a high order. Franco would remake this film in 1986, exploiting the then-recent suddenly blooming awareness of the disease, as SIDA, LA PESTE DEL SIGLO XX, for Golden Films Internacional, with Francoise Blanchard in the Lina Romay role. OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO reports Franco's claims that a dispute between Emilio Larraga and Eurocine halted the release of the film.

Film: *** [good]
Video: ** [acceptable video quality but the 1.33:1 cropping of a scope film is unfortunate]
Audio: *** [for once an intelligently written and voice-cast English dubbed version of a JF film]

*There have been no US-R1 presentations of this film on any video format so far.
Thanks to Eric Cotenas.


Anonymous said...

From email:

RE: Shining Sex
From: "Cotenas, Eric C"


I almost wonder if Romay's encounter with Oliver Mathot late in the film inspired the final confrontation between Nastassja Kinski and John Heard in Paul Schrader's version of CAT PEOPLE.

Robert Monell said...

I'm not sure since it's been decades since I saw CAT PEOPLE theatrically. I haven't seen it since. But since it was directed by a former critic, who knows?

Revelator said...

This SHINING SEX seems to be an interesting ultra-low budget Franco film. Do the guys at Severin plan to release efforts like the aforementioned work in the future, or will they keep on concentrating on the maestro's later period? Anyone out there who knows anything?

dfordoom said...

It sounds absolutely wonderful. And it's in English! Now all I have to do is figure out how on earth to get a copy!

Patrick said...

This seems like the best version out there (except for the fogging) but besides the French hardcore variant, there is another French print which doesn't have the hardcore stuff and clocks in at 82m40s.

I haven't watched it yet but it's obviously shorter than this japanese print and doesn't include the boat ride sequence, but it must definitely be superior to the hardcore variant at the very least.

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for noting this second French video, Patrick. I just have the French hc. The boat ride is one of the best sequences and really needs to be in the film. And thanks for reminding me about the censoring. My version is exactly fogged, but has some kind of digital censoring of below the waist nudity. I'll add that to my comments when I archive the review.