Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Fuego (1969)

This is the third Argentinian exploitation movie I’ve seen, and I’m hooked. The others combined horror with exploitation but Fuego is more sexploitation combined with deliciously overheated romantic melodrama. And this 1969 film is enormous fun.

Laura (Isabel Sarli) is a wealthy woman who sexual appetites are the stuff of legend. At a party one of her acquaintances remarks to a friend that one day Laura will find her one man. Her friend replies, “One man! She’ll need at least ten!” As well as an insatiable craving for men Laura also finds additional satisfaction in the arms of her maid and lesbian lover Andrea. After a naked swim there’s nothing like a roll in the grass with a special female friend.

But Laura does eventually find a man with whom she falls in love, and she and Carlos are married. This doesn’t stop Laura’s sexual escapades, in fact it doesn’t even slow her down. An unfortunate chap who just called by to check the electric wiring in the house finds himself dragged into the bedroom and forced to satisfy her lusts. There’s also a memorable scene of Laura wandering through the streets of the town wearing a fur coat with almost nothing underneath it and flashing her breasts at every male passer-by.

In despair Carlos seeks medical help for her. It turns out that she does indeed have a medical problem.- oversensitivity of the sexual organs which causes her to be in a constant state of sexual arousal. Even a gynaecological exam has her writhing in pleasure. The doctor assures Carlos that this is a very common problem among women (!) and is, tragically, incurable. All Carlos can do is try to be understanding and to remember that she still loves him even if she’s sleeping with half the men (and some of the women) in the town.

The first half of the film suggests that Armando Bo may well be Argentina’s Russ Meyer. The obsession with Isabel Sarli’s stupendous breasts, the generally overheated atmosphere, the ineffectualness of the male characters, the fascination with insatiable female sexuality, the abundant nudity - all very Meyer. In fact I can’t help wondering if Armando Bo had seen Meyer’s Vixen which came out a year earlier. Like Vixen it has a steamy shower scene and an equally steamy love-making in the river sequence, and the overall feel is rather similar. And Isabel Sarli is in some ways a spiritual sister to legendary Meyer women like Erica Gavin and Kitten Natividad.

The second half of the movie sees a change in mood, with melodrama now predominating over the crazed sex comedy of the first half. But the second half is still every bit as bizarre and every bit as outrageously camp as the first half. It doesn’t quite have the Meyer insanity but it’s certainly not far behind. Laura is consumed by guilt about her countless infidelities (in this respect it parts company with Meyer since Meyer’s women waste very little time feeling guilty about their sexual cravings. The film builds to an extraordinarily melodramatic finale.

To describe Isabel Sarli’s acting style as over-the-top doesn’t even begin to convey the sheer frenetic crazed outrageousness of it. It shouldn’t work, but you just can’t help loving her performance. It’s so much fun. Her physical endowments are as exaggerated as her acting, but they’re undeniably impressive. And she’s certainly not shy about showing them off.

Something Weird’s DVD release is full screen and shows some print damage in parts but most Argentinian exploitation movies don’t survive at all so we should be grateful this one not only exists but that Something Weird has given us the opportunity to see it. And the image quality is perfectly acceptable. This is an amazingly entertaining slice of sexploitation madness which I recommend very highly indeed.

No comments: