22 December, 2018


Above: THE TASTE OF YOUR LIPS: a song written by Daniel White and Jess Franco, is used in Franco's LA NOCHE DE LOS SEXOS ABIERTOS, only the words are changed to "A taste of your sperm" repeated over and over during a nightclub striptease.

La Noche de los Sexos Abiertos

Moira (Lina Romay) is a sexy cabaret stripper by night and a secret agent by day. 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 desert during the last days of the Nazis.

Private detective Al Crosby is also on the trail of the gold and teams up with Moira. Eventually, Prof. Von Klaus 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 have to be played on an organ which will electronically trigger the lock mechanism. It involves musical notation from a Liszt composition. When Moira performs the piece, the door opens and the treasure awaits them. The only problem is that the counteragents 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 profilic director with narrative action that functions as a necessary backdrop to his trademark erotic scenes, personal touches, visual spirals, and private jokes.

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.

LA NOCHE... opens with a deliriously filmed strip by Lina Romay, performed in the driver's seat of a classic fifties American car. This all takes place in an 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, torture sessions (one outrageously borders on a porno level of sado-erotic intensity), exotic locales, and Lina Romay has never looked sexier.

C Robert Monell 2018

11 December, 2018


botas negras, latigo de cuero 1982 89 MINUTES European Trash Cinema (U.S. import) DIRECTED BY JESS FRANCO WITH: CANDY COSTER, ROBERT FOSTER, IDA BALIN, ALFREDO KIER, MIGUEL INFANTE/ Produced by Emilio Larraga-Golden Films Inteenacional --------------------------------------------------------------------  BLACK BOOTS AND LEATHER WHIPS: A Film Noir Story.

One of Franco's favorite characters, private investigator Al Pereira (Robert Foster, a.k.a Antonio Mayans) has got an addiction and he's got it bad. The kind where he just can't keep it in his pants no matter what. It's gotten him in trouble before, but this time it will be the end of him. Al is frantically packing, trying to get away from trouble with sex, women, money, and all the people who are after him. Then Candy walks in. She's bleach blonde, wide eyed, and those long legs under her trench-coat just can't wait to wrap themselves around their next victim, who happens to be Al. She wants him to pick up some dirty money stashed in a wrecked car in the local junkyard, that's all. But Al doesn't bargain on having to kill two thugs, just so he could get back to his seedy apartment, where Candy waits with her legs spread wide. He doesn't bargain for the strip-club and Candy's male friend, who likes to wear make-up.

 Then there was the phony psychic and her friends, who like to strip and play S&M games with black boots and leather whips. When they make Al strip at the party and start beating him, he really loses it and begins shooting people. He doesn't bargain for that, either. So, running from the police and the mob he drives to end of a bayou, where he makes love to Candy one last time. As the seagulls reel overhead, stirred up by Candy's horny cries, she pulls the pistol out of her trenchcoat pocket (she was nude underneath) and pumps a few slugs into Al's side. "Puta" is the only thing he can get out as he falls to his knees, pants still around his ankles. Death was coming to the party, and he is the guest of honor. Like Robert Mitchum in OUT OF THE PAST he plays the sap right to the end. The burning, wet feeling in his side had finally made the lump of flesh between his legs go soft. He always called the nude playmate taped to his wall, "Mi Madre". But where was she?  It was all too much of a good thing. The bitch of it all was that Candy, who was long gone, hadn't gotten him, the mob hadn't gotten him, the cops hadn't gotten him. He got himself.

 BLACKS BOOTS AND LEATHERS WHIPS is the blackest panel of Franco's series of films about eternal fall guy Al Pereira. It's a film noir rendered in the saturated oranges, lemons and aquas of the glittery, trashy Costa del Sol. As embodied by Mayans (in one of his most dead-on performances for Franco), Al is a frantic, at times charming and boyish, womanizer who has a deep seated problem with obsession and compulsion. Romay's femme fatale is lush, slutty sexuality with an icy edge, barely perceptible and totally invisible to Al. This time around, Al might be a character out of Jim Thompson, and the his grim finale is inevitable for a man whose thinking capacity never rises above his waist. Daniel White's urgent score is perfectly appropriate for this rush-toward-death cautionary tale. One thinks of Renoir's 1930s noir LES CHIENNE, the bitch gets her man, all right.  Franco and Juan Cozar's citron color scheme has never seemed quite as ironic and becomes a post-modern Costa del Sol eqivalent of those liquid black nights and mean streets of Robert Siodmak and Jacques Tourneur.

(C) Robert Monell

07 December, 2018

KISS AND KILL (a.k.a THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU) Jess Franco, 1968

I actually prefer this version of Jess Franco's THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU (FU MANCHU Y EL BESO DE LA MUERTE), which moves with dispatch and doesn't seem to sag in the middle, as does the uncut, longer version. I also believe the new opening of this version (which appears later in some other versions) was borrowed, consciously or unconsciously, by RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for the opening scene in that mega-hit.

This American Video 1988 VHS lists a 91 minute runtime on the back cover  (it's actually shorter than THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU version and plays much more efficiently with a new opening scene featuring Gotz George leading an expedition toward Fu Manchu's hidden jungle city, which actually looks more like a large cave. Credited to Peter Welbeck, producer Harry Alan Towers, this first Franco-Towers collaboration is somewhat more coherent, but less colorful than the Franco-Towers THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (1969).

The back copy on the Kiss and Kill VHS (Rated PG) reads like a promo for a 1970s kung fu epic: " The great Christopher Lee explodes in this kung-fu classic! Playing a Japanese (?!) mercenary, he's intent on righting  the evils that roam the land [actually, he's playing the Chinese super villain Fu Manchu!] He's in top form, fighting off his enemies with lots of sizzling high energy, high-kickin' action! As one of the most exciting films of its genre, KISS AND KILL will keep you on the edge of your seat!" But even trimmed by 10 or so minutes it's somewhat of a slog and won't keep anyone on the edge of their seat. And there is no high kicking kung fu fighting in any version which I've seen.
There's also a US release of this film titled AGAINST ALL ODDS, which is a different edit of BLOOD OF FU MANCHU. Released in the US theatrically in September 1969.

(C) Robert Monell