Franco Friday #51
Well, November sucked ass. I wrote about 10,000 words of my horror novel, recorded a new song with my band, shot a music video, and then I got sick as a dang dog. As if that wasn't bad enough, Thanksgiving happened. Yuck! The one bright spot, which surprised me very much, was getting back to some Jess Franco movies. Hot damn, I am ready to get back on this train. All aboard!
The Corpse Packs His Bags
AKA The Death Avenger of Soho
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Horst Tappert, Fred Williams, Barbara Rütting, Elisa Montés, Luis Morris, Siegfried Schürenberg
There is a knife-throwing killer on the loose in Soho (that's right, just like the one in that Rancid song). This killer has a peculiar habit of packing a person's belongings into a suitcase shortly before dispatching them. Frankly, it's brilliant! Well, it's pretty cool. Inspector Rupert Redford (played by Fred Williams) of Scotland Yard and his friend Charles Barton (Horst Tappert) are on the case. Are there drugs involved? Hell yeah, there are! Everyone is all wound up about a drug called Mescadrin. Never tried the stuff myself but they say it packs a hell of a wallop.
The first on the list of suspects is Dr. Bladmore (played by Siegfried Schürenberg), a physician who attended to one of the deceased shortly before he ceased. He is prone to giving out doses of a certain painkilling drug to people who ask him to. Is he the pusher, man? Let's hope that his lovely assistant, Helen Bennett (Elisa Montés), isn't mixed up in this dangerous business. All clues seem to be pointing to a mysterious man named Charlie Bennett, Helen's dead husband!
More red herrings- oops, I mean totally probable suspects- infect the plot of this film like something you would only whisper to your local pharmacist to help you get rid of. I'm talking about THE VD! Come on, you prude. This is the 70s, we can talk openly now about such things. Anyway, there's a seriously bad ass chick (played by Barbara Rütting) with a henchman, a blind organ grinder (Andrés Monales) who always seems to just happen to be present at every crime scene, a stripper who doesn't know how to strip (Mara Laso), and a sleazy guy that my wife says looks like a Persian cat with mange.
One of the things that never occurred to me until I was armpits-deep in Franco Lake is that Jess Franco made comedies. Before, I thought of him as totally serious. Or maybe he meant Vampyros Lesbos to be a side-splitting farce. Fucked if I know! The Corpse Packs His Bags is a krimi with a comedy streak so wide you'd have to be a blind organ grinder to miss it. You will laugh, I promise. Or maybe you'll just chuckle. Fine, I promise that you will see the always fucking great cinematographer, Manuel Merino, take this two dollar film and make it look like it was a fourteen hundred dollar film. And the locations don't hurt either. There's nothing like a well-written mystery film to make you appreciate the architecture of the buildings it was shot in. Did I say "well-written"?
I do love how the knife makes a "boing" spring sound when it hits its target in the back and that's funny because everyone knows that's the sound of an unexpected boner. Krimi fans who don't take themselves too seriously will probably get a kick out of this one. Franco fans who always take themselves too seriously will no doubt be pleased to see Franco wasting good German money again in the vein of La Venganza del Doctor Mabuse (though not nearly as baffling this time around). Determined to make you blink but not miss him, Franco has not one but two cameos in this film: one as a bystander at the first crime scene and another as Mr. Gonzalez, a Spanish expert on throwing knives. I like that.
"You should see a neurologist. Did you crap your pants again, my dear?"
This disc from Trash Palace looks and sounds great! Subtitles are easy to read and I really appreciated the krimi and Jess Franco related content on the menu. Definitely worth picking up.