Sunday, November 25, 2012

Movie Review: 'Tender and Perverse Emanuelle' (1973)

By Ryan Clark

With nearly two hundred movies in his filmography, Jess Franco is perhaps the most prolific director of all-time.  Whether or not his quick-shot method makes him a good filmmaker is another story entirely, but you gotta admit there's plenty of variety in his oeuvre.  Amidst film after film of the erotic writhing and vaginal bumping of his muse, Lina Romay, now and then Franco delivers one that features less of her sugar walls and more story, more drama.  Tender and Perverse Emanuelle is such a film.  In fact, it's a murder mystery told primarily in flashbacks, and if it wasn't so recognizably Franco, it might pass for a giallo, but that's probably pushing it.

Here is a plot description culled from MUBI, because I couldn't be bothered to write one up myself:
Emanuelle, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. A suicide or murder? An investigation takes in Emanuelle’s many lovers – both men and women – including her husband’s sister and her psychiatrist. A strange tale of pain and pleasure… power and love… lust and desire!
Emphasis on "lust and desire".  Tender and Perverse Emanuelle has nothing at all to do with the Emmanuelle series or even the Italian Black Emanuelle rip-off series.  The character was re-named Emanuelle after the film was completed to cash in on the success of those films.  It was shot in some of the same locations and around the same time as A Virgin Among the Living Dead, before Lina Romay became Franco's regular leading lady.  Here she is only a secondary character, but she makes the most of it.

There might be some good acting in Tender and Perverse Emanuelle, but the English language dubbers were clearly determined to make you think otherwise.  At times the dialogue verges on parody with characters saying one thing and then quickly contradicting themselves to humorous effect:  "I know what you did to get me back.  I don't hold it against you anymore.  You know that."  *smack*  "Except sometimes I do!!  You bitch!!!"  The only one who survives the dubbers' sabotage relatively unscathed is Romay.  Her playful performance is really quite charming and sexy; much more so than movies wherein she takes her clothes off more frequently.

The story falls apart in the second half, but the twist ending kinda makes up for it.  Also, the opening credit sequence is one of the coolest I've ever seen, with Norma Kastel and Lina Romay making love in a red-tinted room.
 

Okay, forget what I said about this movie foregoing sex for story; it's fucking filthy.  I was certainly not expecting mutual masturbation action with less than ten minutes left in the film, but whatever floats your boat, Franco.

I wouldn't recommend Tender and Perverse Emanuelle as a starting point for someone new to Jess Franco, but if you've seen some of his better-known movies and you really want to dig deep, you could do a whoooooooole lot worse.  Trust me.

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