Sunday, 17 July 2011

Die Sklavinnen (1977)

Die Sklavinnen (Slaves) dates from the period when Jess Franco made a stack of movies for Swiss producer Erwin C. Dietrich. These movies were mostly high on sleaze but often very entertaining, and made on reasonably generous budgets (by the standards of exploitation films).

Die Sklavinnen sounds like it’s going to be another variation on the women-in-prison genre, a genre Franco explored in depth. In fact it’s more of an erotic crime thriller, although with certain affinities to the WiP genre.

Lina Romay is Madame Arminda, a ruthless but very successful brothel owner. She recruits her girls by methods that are somewhat less than ethical. Her thriving business is threatened when she kidnaps Marine Radeck, the daughter of wealthy industrialist Amos Radeck. The plot becomes rather complicated here with rival criminals trying to gain possession of Martine and attempting to extort five million dollars from her father for her return.

Madame Arminda keeps Martine drugged to keep her in line. The situation is not quite do simple, however, since Arminda has fallen in love with her captive. There are numerous double-crosses and attempted double-crosses. Amos Radeck has in turn kidnapped Arminda and his sadistic henchman (played by Uncle Jess himself) has guaranteed that he’ll make her talk.

It’s a reasonably entertaining thriller enlivened by immense quantities of nudity and generous helpings of sex both straight and lesbian. The torture scenes are fairly restrained, perhaps surprisingly so.

Martine is played by Martine Stedil whose entire brief career was spent in Jess Franco movies. She was an extraordinarily attractive young woman and both she and Lina shed their clothes at the slightest provocation, if that sort of thing interests you.

Lina Romay gets to do her evil psychotic bitch thing, which she does rather well. We also get to see Lina in a sari, which is not something you’ll see very often. Naturally we also get to see Lina out of her sari.

Vitor Mendes is fun as the obese and quite nasty father of the unfortunate Martine.

The German Ascot Elite Entertainment DVD is an all-region PAL release and looks extremely good. The bonus materials in this two-disc release include an entire additional feature film, another Erwin Dietrich production called Julchen and Jettchen which stars Brigitte Lahaie (a favourite of cult movie fans for her performances in various Jean Rollin horror films).

This is not quite first-rank Franco sleaze but it’s still enjoyable enough, and certainly worth a look for Franco fans.

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