26 March, 2014


[Un Film de Jess Franco/Produced by Gabriel Iglesias Martin Prod. Madrid/Cast: Karin Dior, Lina Romay (Terry Morgan), Robert Foster [Antonio Mayans] (Al Pereira), Jess Franco (Professor Carame), Jose Llams (Bryan Hudson), Trino Trives (Emir Ahmed Kalmanan), Mabel Escano]

The Girl with Red Lips is an rather obscure 1986 erotic thriller featuring two iconic Jess Franco characters. The Girl of the title is Terry Morgan, a female PI, aka The Red Lips, a reference to the female detective duo which fronted such titles as LABIOS ROJOS (the ultra-rare 1960  B&W title which is still MIA in terms of availability on VHS, grey market video or DVD anywhere), BESAME MONSTRUO and EL CASO DE LAS DOS BELLEZAS (both 1967). The film is narrated by none other than Al Pereira (Antonio Mayans) the director's favorite male PI, who also plays a supporting part in the film. Perhaps he should have been the focus since the adventures of our red lipped heroine are rather complicated and uninteresting, requiring long expository stretches of dialogue to move the action forward, or rather around in circles. Spanish speakers may get more out of this, but after several viewings this non-Spanish speaker still couldn't make out what was happening from one moment to the next.

As the above cap illustrates the "plot" involves the frantic search for a missing jewel, sought by a wealthy Emir as well as Terry Morgan, her partner, several other groups and Al Pereira. Al's voice-over mentions Perry Mason as well as other legendary investigators, but the lack of "action", both in terms of violence, movement and eroticism, sends the film on a downward spiral from which it never recovers. The action appears to be set on the Costa del Sol and in North Africa, but most of it unfolds in hotel rooms or crowed night clubs. The best scene occurs right at the very beginning when a car traveling down a dark highway crashes because the driver has been distracted by the sight of the female PI, suddenly illuminated in the middle of the road, flashing her nudity as she opens her long trench coat. A typical "Jess Franco" moment.  If only there were more of them.
Jess Franco's neon illuminated Nightclub World in La Chica de los Labios Rojos...

Franco is always more effective in creating erotic/psychological/menacing atmosphere through visuals, music and sound rather than dialogue/conventional exposition. The female PI also performs as a trumpet player in a smoky nightclub, which is a nice touch considering the director's musical background and his consistent focus on musician characters (cf VENUS IN FURS). But that's about it outside of the music score, mostly made up of familiar cues from 1960s and 70s Jess Franco thrillers. Lina Romay is watchable as always, even in her blonde "Candy Coster" wig, and Antonio Mayans is always a welcome presence, especially playing Al Pereira.
Red Silk (1999) Poster
The Red Lips PI duo would reappear as the Red Silk in the 1998 ONE SHOT Jess Franco digital era production SEDA ROJA.

[Directed by Jesus Franco/Produced by Gabriel Iglesias Martin Prod. Madrid/Cast: Lina Romay (Terry Morgan), Antonio Mayans (Al Pereira), Jess Franco (Professor Carame), Jose Llams (Bryan Hudson), Trino Trives (Emir Ahmed Kalmanan), Mabel Escano, Karin Dior]

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