Franco Friday #34: The Obscene Mirror
In 2011, for 33 weeks in a row, I reviewed a film directed by Jess Franco every Friday (minus one guest review). I decided to stop, mainly because I was burnt out and also, I felt like I had run out of Franco films that I wanted to see. Well, two things have happened: 1) I found some more of the duder’s films that I actually want to watch and 2) I had a dream about Jess Franco. In the dream, I went to Mr. Franco’s house and I was showing him a VHS of one of his most obscure films. Instead of autographing the tape, he invited me to go monster hunting with him. And there you go. So how many more Franco Fridays can you expect to see? I really don’t know. Let’s see how many more of these I can stand- oops, I meant to say enjoy.
Please note: While trying to find a copy of The Other Side of the Mirror, I found this version of the same film called The Obscene Mirror. The films are quite different in plot and one contains porno inserts and totally unrelated characters. The film reviewed here is the dang porno version. So whenever The Other Side of the Mirror surfaces, I will review it as well.
The Obscene Mirror
Directed by Jess Franco
1973 (released in 1975)
Starring Emma Cohen, Howard Vernon, Robert Woods, Simon Andreau, Alice Arno, Lina Romay
87 minutes (porn version)
Annette (played by Emma Cohen) is about to marry her fiancée, Arthur, when her sister Marie (Lina Romay) kills herself with a sword. Annette calls off the wedding, abandons her needy father (Howard Vernon), and runs off to make a life for herself in the world. Unfortunately, Annette and her sister had some kind of an incestuous thing going on, so she is now plagued by visions of her dead sister HAVING GRAPHIC SEXUAL RELATIONS. To support herself, Annette plays piano and smokes dope in a jazz bar. She is being romanced by a creepo trumpeter named Bill (Robert Woods).
Marie (from the grave and/or evil mirror) commands Annette to kill or play with vaginas. I’m confused on that point. During a performance at the bar, Annette has a vision where she kills Bill (funny, right?). In an indescribably hilarious moment, Annette comes to and the band asks her to play something upbeat. She flops and flails around at the piano, laughing while everyone smiles and snaps their fingers. Brilliant.
Next, Annette starts dating Michel (played by Simon Andreau) AKA Mr. Corny Car Horn, a director who finds her inspiring or something. She has another vision of her sister’s body double fucking someone and then she stabs Michel to death in the theater –which is actually a surprisingly creepy scene (the stabbing not the fucking). After losing (and possibly murdering) two lovers, Annette decides to kill herself. Right after she slits her wrists, her good friend Clara (Alice Arno) shows up and calls 911 (according to the dodgy subtitles).
After she recovers from the suicide attempt, Annette and Clara go off to the seaside. It is there that she meets Pipo (played by Phillippe Lemaire), a Class 5 Midlife Crisis. Despite the fact that his wife(?) Tina (Francoise Brion) is like right there, Pipo starts putting the moves on Annette. Even though Pipo is disgusting, Annette is totally into him. WTF? They get it on and, of course, Marie is screwing someone in a vision and telling her to kill. And she totally stabs the shit out of Pipo. When she comes out of her murderous reverie, Annette flips out and takes off in a little yellow car. So here it is, the climax of the movie, and it is genitals. Big genitals on the screen.
Jess Franco, you fucking sellout. No wonder I quit reviewing this shit. I almost feel bad for Franco but the presence of Lina Romay makes me think that the alternate cut is at least partially his fault. As for the XXX inserts, they are just from some random porno flick. There is a good movie buried in all this mess but any chance of atmosphere, subtlety, and beauty is squashed out by droopy vagina lips and a big old dick. Not even the lovely and excellent Emma Cohen can save this one. Hopefully, this film will one day appear in its original form: The Other Side of the Mirror. As for The Obscene Mirror, avoid at all costs.
“Life is strange. One tries to fly but ends up falling back in the same shit.”