Friday, May 2, 2014

Guest Blog: Franco Friday #57 - Tender and Perverse Emanuelle

Sometimes, when you're nice, people beat you to death. But other times, they give you presents. Brad has given me the greatest gift of all. The gift of Jess Franco! In honor of Cinema Somnambulist's five year anniversary birthday celebration or just in honor of Franco, Brad has contributed today's Franco Friday. So just sit back, relax, and then sit up straight again, pay attention, and read this review! -Richard

Tender And Perverse Emanuelle
Directed by J.P. Johnson (Just kidding! It's Franco.)
1973
Starring Alberto Dalbes, Norma Castell, Jack Taylor, Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, and Alice Arno
77 minutes

Gordon Douglas' (Alberto Dalbes of Murder Mansion, The Hunchback Of The Morgue) wife Emanuelle (Norma Castell - Vengeance of the Zombies) is having nightmares. She's a very talented pianist and has taken to playing the same haunting sonata over and over. Gordon is convinced that Emanuelle wrote it for her lover and invites his friend Michel (Jack Taylor of Jess Franco's Count Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and the Wolfman, and three time winner of Best 70's Mustache Award) over to discuss the nightmares and try to ease his and Emanuelle's mind. It seems that all of her nightmares start out rather lovely and end in Gordon killing her. When Michel arrives, Emanuelle isn't home yet and he and Gordon wait around for her. Emanuelle's body is found on the beach the next morning, an apparent suicide. Or is it murder? (It's murder.)

Who killed Emanuelle? Was it her husband? Her former lover Michel? Gordon's sister (and former Emanuelle lover) Greta (Lina Romay of every Franco film post 1972)? Was it the handyman and former lover Matthias (Raymond Hardy-Lorna of The Exorcist)? Maybe it was thug and former lover Richard Scary (Antonio Mayans - The Night Of The Skulls)? Was it you? Are you a former lover of Emanuelle?

When Richard first mentioned Franco Friday I thought it was a good idea. I still do. Originally it was going to be a week of Franco reviews but soon grew into 52 weeks of Franco reviews every Friday. I mean, that is crazy. Because while Franco made several great films, he also made some shit. And Richard was bound to run into a lot of shit. Of course there is some variance in folks' opinions. I for one don't care to watch Female Vampire ever again, while some love it. I really enjoy The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff. Some find it dull as dishwater.

I've reminded Richard over the years (yes, Franco Friday has been going on for years. Plural. Let that sink in.) that he is doing an important service to the Eurohorror community at large. Franco made somewhere in the range of a bajillion films. And that's a conservative estimate. I know there are those of you out there that have a good grasp on Franco, but there are surely others, like me, that didn't really even have a good starting point. Richard has written a slew of these Franco reviews and has even helpfully put a button on the blog you can click and be instantly whisked to a land of soft focus/softcore horror, sci fi, thriller, comedy, giallo, spy, jungle, women in prison, krimi, adventure, slasher reviews. All films made by a crazy person named Jess Franco. All reviews made by a crazy person named Richard. Richard, I thank you.

Tender And Perverse Emanuelle is not really an Emanuelle film. It was redubbed (or dubbed for the first time, I can't tell) and retitled (I also can't find any info on an original title) because of the highly popular Emanuelle film series that started the year AFTER this film was made. In fact at times the character named Emanuelle is mistakenly still referred to as Barbara. Tender And Perverse Barbara. Nope. It doesn't have that certain ring to it.

There's a lot of flashbacks in the film. And sex. And flashbacks to sex. It seems Emanuelle had sex with everyone. And it is a bit more sex than I am really comfortable watching. I'm not a prude but it's more graphic than I am accustomed to, even for a Franco film. There's masturbation from both sexes. And some, ahem, butt stuff (don't ask). So for those keeping score, I've done two Franco Friday reviews and both had penises. At least this one doesn't have the swinging dicks of Devil Hunter!

The reason I wanted to do this review is because it falls into my personal favorite time period of Franco's filmography: 1970-1974. There's a lot to love there and it's exciting because he made approximately 47 films in each of those years. In fact, I am continually surprised when I stumble across a film I had never heard of during this period. I can wrap my head around Argento's filmography. You can easily pinpoint years for say, The Animal Trilogy or discuss the merits of where Inferno slots into your opinion of his work. We can argue where exactly Argento stopped delivering the goods on a consistent basis or what later film (if at all) saw a return to the glory of yesteryear. But it's much more difficult to do that with Franco. I still haven't seen all the films he directed in this five year period let alone his entire output.

If you don't mind the sex stuff then Tender And Perverse Emanuelle delivers a lot of what you want in a Franco film. Soft focus cinematography, great film locations, a piano driven score by Daniel White that isn't that far off from frequent Franco collaborator: Bruno Nicolai, and a bare-bones thriller plot. All the performances from Franco regulars were pretty good. I love me some Jack Taylor. Who I don't usually love, and it's heresy to say it, is Lina Romay. But she was quite good in this with her over-sized sunglasses and I found her very cute for a change. I think I'll start taking it easy on Lina.

I wouldn't classify Tender And Perverse Emanuelle as a giallo. But let's face it, if it was an Italian film from the same era, it would probably be called such. I hesitate to even say the word 'giallo' because I know that there are folks like me who want to see anything that has the slightest touch of the yellow mystery films. I will say you could throw this comfortably into a giallo moviethon, say in-between something like Psychout For Murder and Smile Before Death and no one would ever be the wiser. It IS a murder mystery with a twisty plot. Well, a twist.

I'll lightly recommend giving this a look sometime especially if you are a fan of this era of Franco. The version I watched for this review was actually on YouTube. Yep. Handjobs and all. It does seem to be cropped on the left side of the screen but I couldn't find an official dvd release anywhere on line. Would I watch it again? I think I would. I'd just skip the heavy sexy stuff.

Quotes:

“She is probably up on some cliff letting her tears drop down to the beach below.”

***

“You're the most adorable bitch I know.”

***

“You're under arrest mister.”
“No shit.”

3 comments:

  1. A very good job you did here, Brad!
    I don't know this film - though this being a Franco film I had to think real hard whether I've watched it or not and since it seems to use one of his regular storylines that wasn't quite so easy! I do know a different Emmanuelle film from Franco which he did in the early 80s I believe. It was quite awful. The one you wrote about here sounds more interesting, though, and I'd say you're right, the early 70s is definitely one of Franco's best periods. I might have to check this film out - even if it comes recommended from the guy who enjoyed The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff... oh boy!
    Cheers,
    MLP

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  2. MLP!- Thanks! That is all very kind of you to say! I have come to grips with the fact that you are never going to forgive me for Sinister. You win some, you lose some.

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  3. Brad - and Richard - keep going - you're doing a fantastic job, and as I have mentioned elsewhere here, you have inspired (if that's the right word) me on a glorious Franco voyage of my own. I haven't seen TAPE yet, but have a very odd copy, by Redemption, that's a double disc CD - video??? It seems to play on my DVD machine so I'll get there eventually. If your previous correspondent didn't like The Inconfessable Orgies Of Emmanuelle, I've just seen it and did enjoy it - especially the opening jiggy scene set ina wax museum - only Franco etc.

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