I'm really starting to depend on Jess Franco to inspire me to write about movies. What could possibly go wrong?
Ópalo de Fuego: Mercaderes del Sexo
Directed by Jess Franco
Lina Romay, Nadine Pascal, Olivier Mathot, Joëlle Le Quément, Mel Rodrigo
The movies opens to some sexy saxophone music (or would that be sexophone?) and some sweaty faces. What more do you need to know? Okay, I guess there’s more. Cecile and Brigitte (played by Lina Romay and Nadine Pascal, respectively) are a pair of strippers (though they call themselves “perverse lesbians”) that have traveled to somewhere vaguely European in order to perform at Club Flamingo. I think their act is supposed to be a striptease but really, it’s more like performance art. Luckily, Cecile’s talents extend beyond her choreography skills because she is actually working for a US Senator (Oliver Mathot) that sent her there to expose a ring of human traffickers or dope dealers or assassins or whatever.
It turns out that Irina Forbes (played by Joëlle Le Quément) and her husband (Claude Boisson) are a pair of sicko criminals who have a helicopter and some sexy henchwomen. They have hypnotized some chick named Estrella (Doris Regina) who may or may not be Irina’s daughter to make her fall in love with Aristobolous Fargas (whoever the fuck that is). Worst of all, Irina does a strip number of her own as Salome and uses what might be a real severed head in her “sexy” act.
When Cecile gets too close to the truth, she is chased by some bad guys but is saved by a parrot. Later, someone leaves a corpse hanging in the wardrobe of her hotel room. But everything works out because Milton (Mel Rodrigo), the gay taxi driver/fixer calls housekeeping to come and take care of it. Cecile is captured by Irina and her gang but she manages to escape. Milton hides her with some hippies and- Look, folks. I could go on and on and on with this plot but I ain’t gettin’ paid for this shit. Some more stuff happens. Okay?
Sometimes washed out, forgotten Franco can have hidden magic. It can also be perilous if you don't like grubby porno movies. In this instance, I am happy to report that even though my porno sensors were going off the whole time, it turns out that Opalo de Fuego is not, in fact, a porno film. I really dig the playful and fun vibe this movie gives off. Nothing is taken very seriously so any chance of an atmosphere of mystery is crushed by all the trashy crap going on that makes no sense.
If you like cheap ball-sweat jazz, cigarettes extinguished on boobies, and out of focus camera, then you’ll love Opalo de Fuego. Sadly, the phrase "severed head cunnilingus" is one I don't get to type very often but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t apply to this film. There could have been more care put into the writing of this film but the producers put all of the money into a surprisingly elaborate helicopter chase scene and a bottle of J&B that gets a lot of screen time.
This movie is freakin’ crazy and the plot is beyond convoluted. And that's where the problem lies. With only about 15 minutes to go, this film slows down to explain what is going on. That was a dumb move. Opalo de Fuego does recover in time for the ending but it’s frustrating because Franco almost nailed this one. That being said, this goofy and super trashy film isn’t a waste of your time. Standout scenes include Cecile and Brigitte practicing their mesmerizingly awful stripper act and Brigitte seducing (with the promise of French Champagne) and then raping gay Milton.
"You know what women are like. They come for the discos, and hamburgers with terrible sauces and they're happy. Goodbye, precious."