In the opening scene of this neo-noir the young, naive Lilian opens a door to the upscale villa in which she is staying and confronts a hardcore scene between Lina Romay and Jose Llamas. That perfectly sums up the issue with this project, which began as Clasificada “S” thriller which had to be upgraded/downgraded to a hardcore feature, necessitating the removal of some 20 minutes of the original’s runtime (84m). The reason was a Spanish law which had been suddenly imposed restricting the showing of “S” product in Adult houses. Jess Franco had to scramble and add this footage since his film would not be playable in more mainstream locations.
I assume the film did reasonably well but it didn’t please the director or those who looked for something more than another hardcore.
LILIAN… tells the downbeat story of a young woman (Katja Bienert) who collapses while staggering though a desert like area. She has been drugged, held prisoner and forced to be the abused party in an S&M show staged for the edification of the local police official (Daniel J. White) who is supposed to be leading investigations. Instead he takes detective Al Pereira off the case when he gets too close to the truth.
Al has discovered the comatose Lilian, who recounts her terror in a delirium at the residence of retired cop and friend Bernardo (Jess Franco), who counsels Al to forget it. He doesn’t.
Corruption is endemic here as in LES EBRANLEES (1972) and BOTAS NEGRAS, LATIGO DE CUERO (Golden Films Internacional, 1982), two very similar Al Pereira episodes. As in those films, Al Pereira is depicted as a hotheaded, high minded loser who will ultimately trigger his own exile from the human race.
The villains, the drug lord (Emilio Linder) and his wife (Lina Romay). who fetches him party girls and druggies at her nightclub are oh-so-chic, part of the local glitter scene. Franco shoots this as a 1980s Film Noir, a virtual encyclopedia of noir references and visual quotes.
Using long takes and wide angle lenses in the style of Sam Fuller (UNDERWORLD USA) and Robert Aldrich (KISS ME, DEADLY), but also incorporating his personal favorites THE KILLERS (Robert Siodmak version) and Howard Hawks’ THE BIG SLEEP in the flashback structure of the former and the opening credits of the latter, which are recreated in the penultimate scene when the camera lingers on a pack of cigarettes (American, of course), two whiskey glasses and a pistol on a table. The drug lord had just been sitting there having a drink when Al Pereira burst in and summarily executed him, Dirty Harry style. Al leaves his pistol as a calling card, knowing the police will trace it to him. Then he quickly hops into his car and drives away into a future life of assured damnation.
One evil bastard is done away with, but the corporate evil of the big combo will continue under the averted attention of the corrupt police official. And the principled avenger and seeker of justice Al Pereira will suffer the punishments of our sinful, fallen world.
The film has a brutal, nihilistic tone which is mediated by one of Daniel J. White’s most breathtaking scores, incorporating a kind of funk theme and an ethereal line. Some of these cues can also be heard in the director’s 1985 Jungle adventure, L’ESCLAVA BLANCA, a Manacoa production.
If one can forgive or fast forward the hardcore scenes there’s a very good film in there. Franco and Antonio Mayans are superb as the world weary receivers of Lilian’s sad story. This element of delirious confession to authority figures evokes EUGENIE DE SADE (1970) and Sade’s DIALOGUE BETWEEN A PRIEST AND A DYING MAN (1782).
The Spanish “Kiosk” DVD version was screened for this review. It has very good video quality, sharp and colorful with acceptable Spanish only audio. This version lasts approximately 73 minutes.
Filmed on locations in Madrid and Huelva.
(C) Robert Monell, 2016
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Bangkok, cita con la muerte – Actors & Cast
Actor · Actors
Actor · Actors
Director of Photography · Camera
Bangkok, Cita con la Muerte, in this context, registers as a commercial genre experiment, blending comic book-style imagery with a thriller plot. Franco has tried this before, notably in the delightful LOS BLUES CALLE POP (1983). Unlike that project, BANGKOK, is less a personal project than a theme room in his adventure universe. The overly formulaic plot combines drug running, Thai pirates (led by Lina Romay?), karate fighting, kidnapping, and parody to little effect. But it’s highly amusing to see how each genre element is placed, worked and detailed in the face of an obvious lack of funding and time. Franco told me in 2005 that his Golden Films Productions were “poor” meaning he had little money but complete freedom. But he also had to be able to market the result and hopefully make something on the back end, which he really didn’t. He just was able to keep on making these items because the cost with so low and he had his team in place.
Marta Flanagan, the yacht-going daughter of a millionaire is kidnapped by pirates. Her millionaire father (Eduardo Fajardo) hires a bumbling private eye named Panama Joe (Bork Gordon) to locate her. The daughter’s boyfriend (Jose Llamax) is also on the kidnappers’ trail. Panama Joe discovers the crooks are led by a drug smuggler (Antonio Mayans), who is in turn being double crossed by Queen Amania (Lina Romay). The detective tries to play both sides against the other, while uncovering deeper layers of corruption and double dealing.
BANGKOK is dialogue and plot heavy but always visually engaging, suffused with sunlight and candy colored costumes. Bork Gordon’s imitation Inspector Columbo ramblings just do not spark enough interest, but he’s an amusing Jess Franco detective, disheveled but able to get the drop on Malko at the end.. The characters are shown talking in cartoon dialog balloons (cf LUCKY, THE INSCRUTABLE) during the opening credits, but Franco unaccountably drops this unusual device immediately and never picks it up again. What’s left is a C-minus adventure with some ill-timed comic relief and ineptly staged karate stand-offs, in which the participants miss each other by miles. The lack of contact in a contact sport in an “action” film becomes amusing in itself, but would hardly please Bruce Lee fans.
Lina Romay has a few touching moments as the pirate leader, and is always a welcome, enthusiastic presence.. In one amusing scene, shes dances around in a tight swimsuit accompanied by a mechanical band. The result might been cute in 1973, but at this point in Franco’s career it’s indicative of his desire to create scenes which amuse himself first and foremost. Veteran character actor Fajardo reliably turns in a credible performance as the millionaire.
The movie benefits from shimmering photography of such exotic locales as the Canary Islands, with stock footage of Bangkok, and Shanghai. The Far Eastern locations, though, appear to be taken from stock footage from another film. Pieces of the /Pablo Villa/Daniel White’s brassy score can recall score in Franco’s earlier FU MANCHU AND THE KISS OF DEATH/KISS AND KILL (1967).
We are extremely proud to present the North American home video premiere of Jess Franco’s underrated 80s supernatural-sex opus MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE!
A quasi-remake of his own earlier film NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT, this unusual thriller finds Franco at the height of his stylistic delirium:
“The dreamlike atmosphere is everything here and the director gradually develops a layered nightmare. Humid tints, tilted set ups in cramped interiors, painterly compositions and the most beautiful seven note phrase ever written by Daniel White do the rest of the job.” – Robert Monell, I’m in a Jess Franco State of Mind
We think this is one of best films of Franco’s fruitful partnership with Golden Films in Spain, perhaps the last extended period of greatness for the ever-prolific exploitation director, and couldn’t be more excited about bringing to an English speaking audience for the first time.
We hope to have this one out later this year, or perhaps early next. We haven’t yet seen the HD master and so don’t know what work still needs to be done, if any. More details to come in the following weeks, including brand new cover art by Justin Coffee!
Betty Carter is the credited director. Lina Romay is credited as Jean (not Joan) Collins Produced by Phalos Films, Madrid! 80m.