Comic capers, Swinging Sixties, disguises, camp creature feature confusion.
Where do you start with this 1969 Jesus 'Jess' Franco effort? The beginning?
We start at the end of a fashion show where the final turn is a wedding dress. Lida (Maria Antonia Redondo) goes off to change and is requested to see her ex partner, Mr. Radeck by her boss. After the title sequence with a very cool score by Jerry Van Rooyen she is attacked by what looks like a were-wolf in the middle of the day.
Next we enter the world of Napolean Bolivard (Franco himself) and see works of art and an unconscious girl tied to a chair. Back to Lida and the werewolf man Morpho (Michel Lemoine) and he is still attacking her but in a wooden loft and being photographed by a man in an eye-patch. Back downstairs a masked woman steals a painting of Lida by mysterious artist Mr. Thriller, leaving behind a lipstick kiss, so clearly no DNA testing then. After Bolivard reports the crime to Inspector Tanner (Marcelo Arroita-Jauregui) we visit the office of Red Lips, detectives called Diana (Janine Reynaud) and Regina (Rosanna Yanni) who solve crimes, but don't like too many clothes. What they do wear is very stylish though!
After Bolivard gets his come-uppance for losing the painting and telling the police from the man in the patch Regina goes to visit Radeck (Adrian Hoven) and they discuss terms over finding Lida and hands over the painting she stole. Back at the 'office' Diana has realised that Lida is just one of 8 cases all of which seem similar. Morpho's long scratch marks have been at every scene. A man enters their house
He claims to be Vittorio Freda and is there to look at their house. Regina then heads to the gallery to see more work from Mr. Thriller. She wants to buy his work and to meet the artist. She is told this is impossible.She seduces Albert the gallery director and invites him to their bungalow. She gets him drunk and he signs a form saying she can buy Lot 12 at the auction. He is about to reveal Mr. Thriller's true identity while Diana is tape recording the conversation but Albert is murdered with a poison dart. Diana and Regina give chase but to no avail. They return to find the body is gone, but the sound of an Italian voice is left on Diana's recording.
We cut to a young lady performing a dance where she cuts off her own bodystocking with a knife in a club, where she is watched by the man in the eye-patch. After the dance she approaches him and addresses him as Mr. Thriller. She offers to dance for him and they leave together. She is next seen entering the room we last saw Lida and is set upon by Morpho while Mr. Thriller takes photographs.
Regina goes to collect her item, a statue and meets Francis McClune (Chris Howland) from Interpol. When Vittorio Freda claims to have bought the same piece she manipulates McClune into ensuring she has it. She takes it home and Diana decides they should look for they're Italian playboy in The Flamingo. Here we are treated to another routine which I shall not detail here.
After the dance Regina arrives at the club and Regina waits for her. Regina meets an old friend. She leaves her to see Mr. Thriller who has lost interest in the dancer now. Regina leaves with Mr. Thriller but as Morpho grabs her she is rescued by Diana and her friend from the club. Diana has sent details of the case to Insp. Tanner but Thriller has vanished. Regina decides to take a holiday when some flowers arrive for them.
The girls go on holiday but Diana brings the statue they bought at the gallery. Whilst sunbathing Vittorio Fredo arrives again and ingratiates himself with Regina. Meanwhile Insp. Tanner and Francis McClune check into the hotel. At dinner Mr. Thriller arrives too. Morpho breaks into their apartment and goes for the statue before turning to Diana who is sleeping. McClune chases him away. Regina brings Fredo back where Diana and her torture him with feathers and alcohol until he tells them he works for Thriller and wants the statue. When they investigate the statue they find a real girl is inside. They deliver both the girl and Fredo to Insp. Tanner. Regina tells Radeck she has found Lida and wants the balance of her pay. They agree to meet that night. Diana goes to see Radeck but finds Mr. Thriller. He removes his disguise and he is Mr. Radeck! He claims he has always wanted her for his work, Diana pulls a gun on Radeck.
I straight away thought of Joseph Losey's 'Modesty Blaise' when I started watching it but the 'art of fright' Radeck mentions at the end, painting people from photographs of their death, reminds me of Powell's 'Peeping Tom'! There are lots of James Bond jokes plus the essential sixties go-go girls. And nudity. Franco is a master of Exploitation and while this is not his usual fare there are still elements. It's very sexy, very silly and yet still very clever, the kind of film I enjoy.
Maru's Score 7/10