I Saw a film!

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I’m a bit of a sucker for these stylish “psychedelic” spy spoofs, especially if they star some of these “Italian” (in this case Parisian and Argentinian) beauties doing strip-tease and getting into karate fights, albeit both poorly. Jesus Franco, who directed this silly, cult mess, kinda built a career out of making these things.

The ladies, who are secretly known as “The Red Lips”, and played by Janine Reynaud (of many similar films and lots of modeling (b. 1930 Paris)) and Rossanna Yanni (Argentinian actress who didn’t star in much, but she was in the old Amazons! (b. 1938)) spend their time entertaining fellows in their mod apartment, that looks remarkably like something the Beatles lived in in Help!, and playing saxophones in nightclubs, until they soon begin to be surrounded by murders.

Moving on, the murders are linked to a plethora of exciting themes: Lesbian BDSM cults (exciting whips and cages!), and mysterious witches, and finally, a secret scientist (it’s always an evil scientist, Carl Sagan used to complain about this a lot, why aren’t the scientists rescuing humanity as they actually usually do in the real world?) who is developing a secret cloning agent (which, I’m not sure I can really understand. Cloning isn’t a matter of a recipe formula, or a secret procedure, it’s merely replacing DNA in an appropriate origin cell’s nucleus and growing it up. Most of what has blocked cloning is impracticality and ethics) which fits in a box like a Prime delivery (something overcoming ethics and a length of time needed to grow a person to adulthood fits in a box). Soon enough The Red Lips are defending themselves with smartass quips, and fake Karate (off balance, flailing chops and windmilling kicks and the such) while people keep getting knifed in the back at inopportune moments.

This being an Italian film there’s a lot of dubbed voices, which is normal in such films, as I’ve explained before, the Italian film industry is two independent operations, filming and sound. Everyone’s voice is dubbed even in Italian because they love their voice actors. The old story is that Sophia Loren would have been laughed out of the industry if people had heard her country accent, so even she was dubbed.

The other thing that there’s a lot of is dancing. Loads of dancing to boring “grind” music. Most of the dancing looks pretty amateurish, though I’m no expert, it’s mostly very unattractive. It seems to me the last thing you want your filler dancing to be is dull and repulsive. But I’ve never made a movie so what do I know. It could be hard!

So here’s the rub. This film sports a kind of fake feminism that is so common in these racy sixties/seventies exploitation films. It more resembles a director or producer’s fantasy about domination. The Red Lips are presumably the heroes coming to solve the world’s problems, but in the end they are mostly there to show off their bodies. Not that I mind such, I’m only pointing out that the old “reason” for it is lamebrained. There’s a mentality at play that couching the beauty and sexuality in a plot that depicts women behaving in roles that make them look “comic book” strong eliminates the “perv factor”. It doesn’t. It just adds levels of creative goofiness to what would otherwise be a lovely body gyrating to some music. Of course, this hiding our fetishism in plot goes all the way back to those Renaissance painters who would paint beautiful ladies and call them Greek goddesses and thereby imply their sophistication. At some point this had to be an obvious ploy, like as soon as the second artist did it.

When all is weighed it just adds a level of unintentional humor to the enterprise. If you’re feeling like you need to justify showing off a lovely girl’s behind by having her engage in a bad karate fight during her performance as an undercover stripper, aren’t we really generating piles of unnecessary goofy comedy that is just underlining our discomfort with sexuality? If we were grown-ups about our own natural wired-in desires, many of these silly films wouldn’t exist. Six of one, half-dozen of the other, I suppose!

OH the most creative bit, I thought, was a full on windmill that was actually a giant combination lock to the scientist’s secret laboratory. Pretty fun that they had to crank the thing around and around to open it.

On Prime for Freebies

Enjoy!

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