Friday, May 13, 2011

Franco Friday #16: Women Without Innocence

I am not in the mood right now. No seriously, why am I doing this? I am so sick of erotic cinema right now I am about ready to puke or jam a pencil in my armpit and call it macaroni. Why did Franco make so many sex movies? Was there something like wrong with him or something? I really don't give a crystal shit about sex movies. Anyway, here's another one.

Franco Friday #16

Women Without Innocence
Directed by Jess Franco
1977 (or 1978 according to IMDB)
Starring Lina Romay, Muriel Montosse, Michael Maien, Esther Struder, Monica Swinn
Running Time: 76 minutes

A young woman named Margarita (played by Lina Romay) is found bloody and in a state of hysterics along with the bodies of a married couple. She is taken to a women's insane asylum where Dr. Antonio (Michael Maien) is using some experimental and bizarre techniques to treat his patients. But all is not as it seems in this house of deranged nekkid ladies. Nurse Irina (Muriel Montosse) and Dr. Whatshisface (no idea who this duder is) are actually trying to shock Margarita out of her mute psychosis so they can find out where her dead friends, who were freakin' diamond smugglers, kept their stash. To further complicate the situation, there is a killer running around stabbing the comely patients of the nursing facility with a butcher knife.

Other than Joe D'Amato and Jean Rollin, Jess Franco is the only director I go this far outside of my cinematic comfort zone for. I really knew absolutely nothing going into Women Without Innocence (great title!) but I was hardly surprised by all the softcore sex scenes. And there's a lot. There are sex scenes that segue into other sex scenes and I just want to curl up and die. But hey, it's Franco, there must be something good here, right? Begrudgingly, I say yes. Women Without Innocence, when it's good, is a lurid, woozy, and funny flick. The camerawork by Peter Baumgartner is excellent. Seriously, this movie looks way better than it should.

Lina Romay does it again. And by it, I mean, sneaks into my heart and makes me give a crap about another one of her characters. Margarita is in serious trouble and the more that is revealed about how she came to be a gibbering madwoman, the sadder and more interesting she becomes. There is a moment when Romay looks right into the camera. I don't know if it was intentional but her look just seemed to say, "I know I'm an actress playing a woman in a madhouse but seriously, get me the fuck out of here!" It is awesome and I have no idea if it was intentional or not. Another standout scene happens when Margarita wanders away from the institution at dusk. There is the rumble of an approaching thunderstorm and the whole bit borders on gothic horror.

I'm glad that Women Without Innocence has some redeeming qualities, many of Franco's bawdier titles do, but for me, watching and reviewing erotic cinema is still a chore. You'll never hear me say: "Wow, I love this! So happy there were some sex scenes to keep all that weird stuff and atmospheric crap from getting in the way!" Although this Franco flick has some points of interest (and definitely doesn't take itself very seriously), I can only recommend this one to only the most devout of his fans. File under almost brilliant.

"Make her stop, her moaning is giving me the creeps! She sounds like a dog."


  1. Watched this a few weeks back. Didn't like it much. There was one shot when the camera circles around the yacht. That was quite carefully executed, compared to the rest of the film. That impressed me. Otherwise this film is quite a chore to sit through.

  2. I'm glad you had something good to say about this one, I like it a lot. There are a couple of good twists that weren't that predictable. The crime story is naturally incredibly ridiculous, but that's nothing new and I'm not really complaining. Also, it seems like a groovy asylum!

    P.S. I often wonder if Lina had serious trouble learning lines or why is it that she's mostly some kind of mute freak in the early films?

  3. @Alex - It definitely had good moments. Some delirious parts I appreciated but yeah, pretty lame.

    @MLP - The way this film lingers in the mind is way better than watching it. I have many theories on Lina Romay but I'll wait until she writes an autobiography before I share them with anyone.