Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Sex Is Crazy (1981)

How can you possibly resist a science fiction sex comedy directed by Jess Franco, and starring the one and only Lina Romay? Especially with a title like The Sex Is Crazy (El sexo está loco). The answer is you don’t even try. Resistance is futile.

The first thing that needs to be said is that this is a totally insane movie. Most Jess Franco movies either follow a surprisingly linear narrative arc (these were usually his bigger-budgeted movies like Count Dracula where he was aiming for a wider audience) or they have a weird trippy jazz-fueled dream logic all their own which makes a kind of sense once you get yourself into the right frame of mind. But this movie is just totally bizarre.

And it’s not just a science fiction sex comedy. It’s a science fiction/horror/thriller surreal post-modern self-referential sex comedy. In fact it’s a movie about the making of a science fiction/horror/thriller surreal post-modern self-referential sex comedy. Uncle Jess throws in everything but the kitchen sink. It’s also an ultra low-budget film, even by Franco standards. Fortunately it was easy to save money on the wardrobes of the lead actress, since Ms Romay mostly wears nothing but a pair of stockings and a smile.

I’ll attempt to give you some idea of the plot, but don’t take any of this as gospel. Not only is the plot complicated, it’s made more so by some extraordinarily eccentric sub-titling. Normally this would be a problem, but in the case of this movie the fact that at times it’s impossible to make any sense of the sub-titled dialogue is arguably as asset.

The movie starts with a group of aliens whose own females are unable to reproduce, so they have kidnapped some earth women to perpetuate their species. Their breeding cycle is extremely rapid - babies are delivered within 9 seconds of intercourse taking place. The first six minutes of the film sees Ms Romay having sex with about eight different men. But in fact it’s only a movie, being directed by some crazy Spanish director named Jess Franco.

The lead actress, played by Lina Romay (in her Candy Coster persona), is having an affair with one of the actors, but he’s having an affair with another woman as well. This soon leads to a foursome, when another couple get veey excited by seeing Ms Romay and her beau having sex on the beach and decide they’d like to get to know this couple much better. Much much better. In fact they end up getting married. All four of them, to each other, in a four-way marriage.

This action is constantly intercut with footage of an attractive naked young woman. We are told in a voiceover that she is the producer’s girlfriend, which is why she’s in the movie, thus adding to the whole making movies about making movies vibe. There’s also a sort of sub-plot which seems to involve some kind of conspiracy, but this may be just another movie.

Finally poor Lina finds herself kidnapped by real aliens, who are just like the aliens in the movie at the beginning of the movie, but of course this might be just another movie as well.

There’s a prodigious amount of sex and nudity, but there’s also plenty of comedy, although it’s certainly very strange and off-beat comedy. It’s all much too silly to be even mildly offensive, and it does have some definite funny moments. Jess Franco’s talents as a comedy director are often overlooked, as are Lina Romay’s talents as a comic actress.

It’s obviously a very cheap movie made as an exercise in outrageous campy fun, and if you approach it in that light it has its moments. But it’s definitely a movie for hardcore Franco aficionados. If you’re not thoroughly familiar with Franco’s various movie-making styles this film would be just about the worst possible place to start. I found it reasonably enjoyable in a weird kind of way, but I’m a very dedicated Francophile indeed.

The Sinful Mermaid DVD isn’t terribly impressive as far as picture quality goes, but this is a very obscure movie and they may well have done the best they could with fairly iffy source materials.

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