Category Archives: Eurotika
The Washing Machine (1993) | Ruggero Deodato’s twisted sisters Euro thriller is more Almodóvar than Argento
A DEADLY SPIN…
Following the report of a man’s mangled body being discovered inside a washing machine in a Budapest apartment, homicide detective Inspector Alexander Stacey (Philippe Caroit) arrives on the scene only to discover the corpse, belonging to jewel thief Yuri (Yorgo Voyagis), has disappeared.
Questioning Yuri’s lover Vida (Katarzyna Figura), and her bewitching sisters, Ludmilla (Barbara Ricci) and Sissy (Ilaria Borrelli), Stacey gradually finds himself drawn into a web of lies, deceit and treachery as each sister seduces him while spinning different versions of events. But if Yuri was murdered, who did it and why?
PLUMBING NEW DEPTHS OF DECEIT
This 1993 erotic Euro thriller from Italian director Ruggero Deodato is a twisted oddity indeed. While the whodunit plot doesn’t bare close scrutiny and the film’s more surreal elements throws logic out the window, the atmospheric cinematography, Claudio Simonetti’s moody score and the engaging performances all draw you into its trashy web.
Deodato is best known for the exploitation cult hit Cannibal Holocaust, and practically invented the found footage technique as a result. For this sexy giallo however he’s less inventive and much more restrained. But while there’s a lack gore (there’s really only one grisly scene – a bloodied torso gets repeatedly hacked at) and sex (there’s lots of heavy panting but the girls keep their knickers on), Deodato dresses his giallo with elements of high camp, while also making effective use (a la Argento) of the creaky old Art Nouveau Budapest apartment in which the twisted sisters reside.
And talking of camp, the look and feel of the film is reminiscent of Pedro Almodóvar, no more so than in Katarzyna Figura, Barbara Ricci and Ilaria Borrelli. All three of their characters are bold, brassy, sexy and eccentric – just like the women in Almodóvar’s films, and Deodato’s script verges on the hysterical. Philippe Caroit meanwhile makes for some delicious man meat for our predatory heroines. With his piercing blue eyes and rugged features, he comes off like a young James Franciscus, who, incidentally, starred in Dario Argento’s 1970s giallo The Cat ‘O Nine Tails.
If anything’s missing in Deodato’s sleazy Euro thriller, which was originally called Vortice mortale, it’s some more big death scenes involving the washing machine. But as you’ll discover in the ‘shocking’ double twist ending, its a bit of red herring. But then, that’s what whodunit’s are made of.
THE UK DVD RELEASE
The Washing Machine is now revived in an exclusive Shameless Screen Entertainment Limited Edition DVD, presented in a yellow metal box with transparent window designed by UK artist Graham Humphreys.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (2013) | A bewitching, bewildering slice of Euro psycho horror that’s pure cinematic alchemy
Following the strange disappearance of his wife inside their Brussels apartment, businessman Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange) seeks to uncover her whereabouts. On discovering a series of secret corridors and concealed rooms within the walls of the building, Dan encounters its inhabitants whose tales of sensuality and sadism play out before him…
PURE CINEMATIC ALCHEMY
Prepare to have a sensory overload because this beautifully constructed erotic horror-thriller is one hell of a ride, evoking the dark cinema of Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Roman Polanksi, and the surreal imaginings of Guy Maddin, David Lynch and the Brothers Quay. It’s the latest effort of Belgian husband and wife directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani and follows their 2009 giallo-inspired cult film Amer and their sensual O is for Orgasm offering in 2012’s The ABCs of Death.
Featuring a sublime soundtrack that plays like a greatest hits of 1970s Italian horror, a stunning Victor Horta-styled Art Nouveau apartment dressed in covetable Mid-Century modern décor, evocative photography, and some truly masterful editing, the Belgian Bavas have brewed up a bewitching, bewildering slice of Euro psycho horror that’s pure cinematic alchemy.
Danish actor Klaus Tange, who looks like 1970s Euro stars Franco Nero and Klaus Kinski, is the grizzled, twinkly-eyed protagonist who gets caught in a web of intrigue in the very walls of his apartment, which becomes more and more sinister after he steps within its inky blackness. Here, time and space seemingly collide, creating a puzzle box filled with sex, murder, childhood memories and loads of red herrings.
From its evocative, unforgettable title to its amazing execution, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a wonderous gift to genre fans, and Cattet and Forzani have succeeded brilliantly in using the cinematic vocabulary of the giallo to create a dream film that brings to bloody brutal erotic life their unqiuely perverse vision. Truly they are the premier puppet masters of our fears and desires.
So crack open a packet of Gitanes, put another groovy Euro track on the turntable and prepare yourself for a giddy, kaleidoscopic experience you won’t easily forget.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is now playing in selected UK cinemas, and is available to stream at MetrodomeVOD[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYXXpT11WtM%5D
American playboy Bob Mitchell (Robert Cummings) arrives in Hong Kong, where he is given a message, found on the body of a dead man. The message reads: ‘Five Golden Dragons’. It is Bob’s introduction to an illicit gold-trafficking operation, run by a secretive global crime syndicate who plan to sell out to the Mafia to the tune of $50million.
When stewardess Ingrid (Maria Rohm) is kidnapped by gangsters out to get their hands on the cash, Bob is forced to impersonate one of the five Dragons in order to steal the money and save the girl. But the gang are unaware that Bob is also working with District Commissioner Sanders (Rupert Davies), who is out to nab the lot of them…
This 1967 adaptation of one of Edgar Wallace’s District Commissioner Sanders stories is a breezy comic affair from director Jeremy Summers and legendary B-movie producer Harry Alan Towers, who together made also The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (with Christopher Lee) and House of a 1000 Dolls (with Vincent Price) the same year.
Robert Cummings is perfectly cast as the joker playboy, even though he’s past his prime here. If this weren’t a Bond-esque spoof then he’d come off as rather sleazy trying to pick up the likes of Maria Perschy, Maria Rohm and Margaret Lee with his corny pick-up lines and dodgy dance moves (check out his Chinese Watsui). But he plays the hapless humorist with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
And as for the rest of the cast, well Rupert Davies’s Sanders is a Shakespeare-quoting buffoon with chronic indigestion, and Roy Chiao, who’d go on to appear opposite Bruce Lee in Game of Death (1978), does his best to flesh out his character, as Sanders’ much more capable assistant Inspector Chiao. As sadistic hitman Gert, Klaus Kinski gets to do very little except look über cool, while the film’s big name stars, George Raft, Christopher Lee and Brain Donlevy who, together with Dan Dureya, make up four of the five Golden Dragons, only get two scenes together. But, then again, they probably only agreed to appear in the film so they could head for the greens at Hong Kong Golf Club or in Donlevy’s case the nearest bar.
Shot entirely in Hong Kong, the film makes great use of the locations (before the skyscraper boom), with its chase scenes taking place in the harbour on a flotilla of Chinese junks, a pagoda and the brand new Hilton (which was demolished in 1995).
The film’s interiors, however, which were all shot at the Shaw Brother’s Hong Kong studio, look like they were borrowed from TV’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E or Batman, two shows that were big business at the time of the film’s release. There’s even a powder pink dressing room with a secret passage like the one that Barbara Gordon uses to hide her Batgirl outfit. In another Batman connection, and again in 1967, George Raft also popped up in the Tallulah Bankhead episode, Black Widow Strikes Again
But the highlight of this comic retro adventure is the music. Malcolm Lockyer’s score is a jazzy cocktail of bongos, brass and Hammond organ served up with an oriental twist, while Margaret Lee gets to sing the catchy theme song and famed Japanese actress/singer Yukari Itô guests with a song that will have you searching for her on YouTube.
THE UK DVD RELEASE
The Network Distributing DVD presents the film in a brand-new transfer from original elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio, and includes an hour-long audio interview from 2001 with director Jeremy Summers, trailer and gallery.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ IN THE DOLLHOUSE?
The dolls in this 1967 Euro thriller about modern-day white slavery are a bevy of lingerie-clad beauties – 12 or so, not 1000 – being held captive in a Tangiers mansion. Vincent Price and Martha Hyer use their magic act as cover for the abductions, which they do on behalf of the mysterious King of Hearts. George Nader (aka Rock Hudson’s former lover) plays a detective whose investigation into a friend’s murder leads him to the dollhouse.
One can only imagine how this Euro thriller – and guilty pleasure – would have turned out had Hammer’s Terence Fisher not fallen ill before shooting the original Victorian adventure script. Instead, producer Harry Alan Towers wrote a screenplay which puts his real-life wife (Maria Rohm) in as many scenes as possible and reduces Vincent Price to a supporting role. At least the iconic star gets a memorable death scene. The film premiered in the US on November 8 1967 before going on general release in March 1968. For a full review, check out The Sound of Vincent Price blog.
The UK DVD release from Mediumrare Entertainment features a lovely print and a gallery of on-set photos (mainly of Maria Rohm), and will be of interest to both Price fans and vintage exploitation cinema enthusiasts.
House of 1000 Dolls also screens on CBS Action (Sky 148, Virgin 192) today (29 December) at 10.55pm; and on The Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149) on Monday 6 January 2014 at 2.25am.
WATCH THE GERMAN TRAILER HERE
From the late Eurotika director Jess Franco comes The Girl from Rio, a cocktail swilling 1960s espionage actioner starring Bond girl Shirley Eaton as a bisexual super villain hell-bent on conquering the world with an army of beautiful women. But standing in her way is George Sanders’ slimy British mobster and Richard Wyler’s square-jawed secret agent…
BEHIND THE VENEER
Inspired by the comic strip capers of 1966′s Modesty Blaise and 1968′s Barbarella, Franco and producer Harry Alan Towers first gave Sax Rohmer’s female Fu Manchu, Sumuru, a kinky makeover in 1967’s The Million Eyes of Sumuru. This colourful campy 1969 sequel isn’t in their league, but it does make great use of Rio’s Sugarloaf mountain (and gave Sanders and co an exotic paid holiday), while the cool production design and sexy sci-fi clobber are very much of the era. There’s also quite a bit of flesh on show and a large chunk of running time devoted to Rio’s carnival. Eaton retired from acting after making this film, while Sanders, who was already in poor health, would take his own life just three years later, in 1972.
Mediumrare Entertainment offers a fine print on this UK DVD release, with some interesting extras including a 2004 documentary featuring director Franco, who sums up his films as: ‘It’s not art, but it makes you happy.’
A might see. This is strictly for Jesus Franco completists.