21 April, 2018

LA NOCHE DE LOS SEXOS ABIERTOS (Jess Franco, 1981-Golden Films Internacional)

Release dateSpain Feb 23, 1983
Country  Spain
Runtime94 min
Technical details2.35:1
[King Home Video VHS, Spain. VIDEO MERCURY FILMS, 1994. There is no known DVD release of this film]

Copyright Robert Monell, 1998-2018
Moira (Lina Romay) is a sexy cabaret stripper by night and a secret agent by day. Actually, she's kind of both at all hours. She is attempting to gain information on the Segunda Guerra Mundial, an international criminal group who are about to locate a hidden consignment of gold bars which was secreted beneath the Canary Islands desert during the last days of World War II (making this a kind of unofficial sequel to OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES/LAS TUMBAS DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTS-1981).

Private detective Al Crosby (a stand-in for Franco-favorite Al Pereira) is also on the trail of the gold and teams up with Moira. Eventually, Professor Von Klaus (Canary Islander Albino Graziani) provides a complex code which, when deciphered, will reveal the location. Moira is briefly captured by the opposition, tortured, and then freed by Al. They make a concerted effort to break the word puzzle, and finally succeed in locating Von Klaus's desert villa, in which there is a secret room containing the gold.

First though, the right notes, from a Liszt composition, have to be played on an organ which will electronically trigger the unlock mechanism. 

When Moira performs the piece, the door opens and the treasure awaits them. The only problem is that the counter agents have pursued them by helicopter and plan to relieve Al and Moira of their newly found fortune.

Considering the fact that Jess Franco has returned to Euro-spy genre again and again throughout his career, it would seem the genre holds a special fascination for him, as well as providing the prolific director with narrative action that functions as a necessary backdrop to his trademark erotic scenes, personal touches, visual spirals, and private jokes. The most outrageous scene features Romay performing an elaborate horizontal strip during which she licks some erotic pictures from pages of a sleazy sex magazine while a disco style song plays over the scene. The words to the song repeat over and over "The taste, taste, taste, taste, taste of your sperm"! The lurid level is dialed up to 10 plus here.

It is impossible to separate the sex from
any generic conventions at this point in Franco's career. His later Euro-spy feature DARK MISSION (1988), offers evidence that he could leave aside the obsessive focus on eroticism and make a relatively straight commercial product, but as this more personal early 80s period and his recent films show Franco is at his best when he is
allowed to be Franco. And, as we shall see, this is much more of a Neo-Noir than a typical Eurospy film.

LA NOCHE... opens with a deliriously filmed striptease by Lina Romay, performed in the driver's seat of a classic 1950s American car installed in a surreal, ultra-glitzy night spot, where the sexy action is bathed in gorgeous neon hues. Lina's gyrations and Franco's camera work and lighting design seem in perfect harmony this time around, and the sequence is hypnotic.

There are many shootings, double crosses, sexual torture sessions (one outrageously borders on a XXX level of sado-erotic intensity), exotic locales, and Lina Romay has never looked sexier in very skimpy outfits. 

Franco's Golden Films Internacional period, running through the 1980s, was perhaps his most personal and unfettered. He told me when I interviewed him in 2005 that he was completely free to shoot what he wanted and edit the film without fear of producer [Emilio Larraga, whom Franco told me got into serious tax trouble with Spanish authorities] interference or later revision. But he also worked unpaid upfront and with very low "poor" budgetary resources. Nonetheless, as with LA NOCHE.. he sometimes made his special magic happen. 

He also was pleased when I praised the visual style and atmosphere of what he described as his "black film" [Film Noir]. Film Noir was his favorite genre and he often referred to Robert Siodmak's 1946 version of THE KILLERS as his favorite film. He seemed surprised I had seen his film and appreciated what he was trying to work into it. He went on to say he tried to make the film into an equivalent of the 1940s and 50s American Noirs. Instead of dark and murky, it's teeming with bright shocks of orange, lemon and lime hues. Common colors found on the Canary Island locations. 

Note: According to Nzoog, the Spanish title roughly translates as "The Night of the Open Sex"....

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

Robert Monell

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