13 January, 2011


A quartet of giggling, hotpants-wearing, Beethoven-singing German waitresses arrives at a Canary Islands hotel in search of a good fuck. Eventually they get it - courtesy of some cursed living dead monks - and the viewer gets just about fuck all out of this thinly-plotted, quickly-shot GOLDEN FILMS INTERNACIONAL production.

While the concept of hooded skeletons somehow bonking brainless babes is so ridiculous and trashy as to be near-irresistible for a cult film fan, the actual film is a chore to sit through.
Jess edited LA MANSION... himself, leaving in tons of unnecessarily long cutaways and random 'characters walking about' footage. Yes, some of these shots are highly atmospheric. Yet the overall effect is not that of poetic deliberate pace but of desperate padding. Would Franco bother to sit through this movie nowadays? At his age that would be a sorry waste of time, that's for sure.

Extended sequences of unattractive simulated sex kill whatever little atmosphere the shots of empty hallways accompanied by wind wailing on the soundtrack manage to conjure up. Clearly, the director had neither the resources nor the inclination to develop the admittedly fascinating concept into anything more than just a throwaway little film. The four waitresses are given extremely poor, banal dialogue. Some lines are repeated ad absurdum, suggesting that the filming took place from just a basic outline with actresses possibly ad-libbing stuff asthey went along.

Many shots look hastily set-up and executed, adding to the sense of a rushed job which keeps the viewer from immersing himself in the absurd proceedings. Indeed, certain technical sloppiness has been a kind of a trademark of post-Towers Franco cinema but it couldn't hamper his truly personal work (DOWNTOWN, EXORCISM) which, although extremely roughly made, has distinct inner drive.

Had there been less filler sex and just a tinsy bit more substance, LA MANSION... would have occupied a more prominent position in Franco's mega-filmography. Still, there's something enjoyable to be found here. Antonio Mayans gives a surprisingly intense performance as Carlo Savonarola, the hotel receptionist. Scenes between him and a demented woman whom he keeps chained to the wall in one of the rooms are genuinely fun stuff, as is his final 'liberation'. At the end of the day, LA MANSION... is a film that's more fun to read about and look at screengrabs from than to actually watch.

Reviewed by Alex B.


Douglas A. Waltz said...

Wow! This is such a beautiful film and I thought Franco did a wonderful job conveying the hotel as having a personality all its own.

dfordoom said...

I'm quite fond of this movie. Of course it's possible I have weakness for giggling, hotpants-wearing, Beethoven-singing German waitresses looking for a good fuck. Macumba Sexual, made at the same time, is certainly an infinitely better film though.