My fabled website, Doomed Moviethon, has turned 10 years old and I’m celebrating right here, right now on Cinema Somnambulist by... REVIEWING ANOTHER JESS FRANCO FILM! It’s been over 5 months since the last one so yeah, I guess I’m long overdue. I still can’t believe I used to do the Franco Friday thing every week. Dang, I miss being that inspired and prolific. It’s not easy being sleepy (or sleazy).
The Hot Nights of Linda
AKA Les nuits brûlantes de Linda
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Alice Arno, Paul Muller, Lina Romay, Verónica Llimera, Monica Swinn, Pierre Taylou
Alice Arno plays Marie-France Bertrand, a nurse looking for work. The scumbag dude at the employment agency (Raymond Hardy) gets her a job working for the Raddick family as a teacher or something. After walking back to her apartment, she reads a book that sounds just like the plot of this movie and then she falls asleep. The next day, Marie-France goes to the family's villa and meets Abdul (Pierre Taylou), a mute servant, who takes her to meet Mr. Paul Raddick (played by Paul Muller). Paul tells her about his two daughters, Lina (Verónica Llimera) and Olivia (Lina Romay). According to him, Linda is paralyzed and needs special care and Olivia is obsessed with sex.
Meanwhile, the employment agent that got Marie-Franco the job in the first place and his photojournalist pal (played by Catherine Lafferière) are holed up in a nearby house, both having been paid by the police to spy on the Raddick family. Why would the police be involved? It turns out that Paul is obsessed with his dead wife Lorna (Monica Swinn) and has a locked room that he goes to in order to talk to the bed where he murdered her and her lover on years ago. Obsessed with not only sex but also with murder, Olivia goes on a violent rampage to get revenge for what happened to Lorna and no one is safe. Oh shizzle! It turns out everything was just a dream. Taking this as an omen, Marie-France decides to not accept her job, working for the Raddick family.
Much like Jess Franco's Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac, this movie is just insanely sad, especially for Linda who is just so friggin' pathetic. When Lina Romay's character takes advantage of her, I actually winced with disgust at the cruelty onscreen. Romay appears playfully mean at first but then she just devolves into an evil jerk. I loved it! Don't let the banana eating and the champagne glass licking fool you, this bitch means business. Even Paul Muller's character, who is very cruel, is someone you can actually sympathize with on some level.
With atmospheric weirdness as the focus, the perfectly sleepy plot just drops out of the race almost immediately. I only threw up the spoiler tags because this movie lulled me into a state of ethereal ennui and then I was honestly thrown for a loop in the last twenty minutes or so. That probably won't happen to you. Once the opening credits -with gorgeous music by composer Daniel White- played over a gloomy day in Paris as Alice Arno walked to her apartment, I just drifted.
Jess Franco drops you into this film right in the middle of a scene and thanks to the English dubbing, it is both mystifying and funny. There is also a great amount of post-synced dubbing. So many lines of dialog are playing while no one's lips are moving that I was just hypnotized. Alice Arno has a lot of dialog in the English version that she says telepathically. She's a talented mutant.
The plot is very dreamlike, slow, and convoluted but this is nothing new for Franco. If you're a fan of his work from this period then you'll be all over this one. The characters are, for the most part, well thought out, and the actors are all capable enough to make this erotically drowsy and perilously ridiculous crap interesting. A tragedy in the past plays itself out over and over again for Paul and Olivia. There's even some comic relief characters!
Okay, I admit it. I was avoiding this film because of its title. It sounds like a porno and that cover art with Lina Romay lasciviously eating a banana (a cover art promise is actually fulfilled!) just made me assume that I wouldn't enjoy this film. Lucky for me, The Hot Nights of Linda was made during an amazing period of Franco's work. Who would have ever guessed that even in 1975, he was still interested in making movies that were perverse without relying on endless shots of genitals? Is anyone surprised that there’s a hardcore version of this film out there? No? I should hope not! Yeah, I didn't watch that cut. So I guess I learned a lesson here: Always judge a book by its cover!
“I can’t stand people that snore and you look the snoring type.”