AKA DIE NACKTEN SUPERHEXEN VOM RIO AMORE; LINDA; THE STORY OF LINDA; CAPTIVE WOMEN (US Video)
I first saw this film on VHS around 1990 after renting it out of an extinct “Mom and Pop” Video store. It was part of the “Captive Women” VHS series. Each was numbered. I think this Jess Franco Women in Peril film was CAPTIVE WOMEN 5. There was also Eurocine’s FRAULEIN ELSA SS, with Pamela Stanford, which was CAPTIVE WOMEN 4, if I recall correctly. The box credits were minimal and I wasn’t even sure at that time if this was indeed a Jess Franco film. It’s very difficult to find a complete version, even in today’s DVD/Blu-ray market.
Several versions, including the Dutch and US DVDs, omit some minor transitions and entrances along with the opening pre-credit sequence depicting the attempted escape of a woman from the Rio Amore, a white slave operation, ruthlessly managed by the lethal Madame Sheila (Raquel Evans), hiding behind an upscale hotel resort of the island of Madeira. There aren’t any super witches as the German title indicates, but Sheila could certainly be termed a jealous, tyrannical, vindictive Super Bitch.
The pre-credit scene, which is in the old CAPTIVE WOMEN VHS as well as the Spanish video, shows the woman (SADOMANIA’s Andrea Isabelle Guzon) being chased along a deserted beach by a jeep containing several thugs who force her into the vehicle and return her to the brothel. The exclusive club features erotic group sex shows in mafu glass cages filled with tranquilizing gases (cf FUTURE WOMEN/THE GIRL FROM RIO, DAS FRAUENHAUS), whippings, disco scored erotic displays and other adult entertainments for upscale male clientele.
BELOW: Funchal airport, Madiera. Ursula Buchfellner in the mafu cage.
This is a strangely bifurcated film, telling two separate narratives about sisters Linda (Katja Beinert) and Betsy (Ursula Buchfellner), the former a runaway from an all girls school run by an order of nuns, the latter an employee of an exclusive resort hotel. Shot partially on the island of Madeira, the setting of Franco’s 1973 erotic vampire masterpiece, LA COMTESSE NOIRE, this is a sometimes visually entrancing film, especially in the Rio Amore love drug episodes involving caged women who are being officially “punished” by Sheila, the the queen bee of the brothel. Much of the film is taken up with her troubled relationship with hotel employee Ron (Antonio Mayans), who is carrying on a secret affair with Besty. When Sheila discovers this she has Betsy kidnapped and forced to work in as a white slave in the Rio Amore. At times the action resembles a racy version of any number of US cable TV series of the era.
The story of Linda opens in Germany with footage from Hubert Frank’s VANESSA (1977), a softcore featuring Olivia Pascal, the final girl in Franco’s gory US-style “slasher” epic. Pascal doesn’t appear here, but VANESSA, LINDA and BLOODY MOON were all German co-productions with Erich Tomek’s LISA FILMS, Munich. In fact Tomek is listed as the scriptwriter of ORGIA… on the Spanish video credits and he hid under the name “Rayo Casablanca” when he wrote Franco’s BLOODY MOON.
When Linda finally arrives on Madeira she sports a black Mickey Mouse T shirt, the negative of the white Mickey Mouse shirt she wore in Franco’s much more personal 1980 Sade adaptation, EUGENIE, HISTORIA DE UNA PERVERSION. Both films are indeed opposites in terms of tone and atmosphere. ORGIA… being a simple WIP, while EUGENIE … is an oppressive, dark, obsessively detailed study in madness, incest, murder and fetishism. ORGIA… registers as a kind of Jess Franco fable of Sacred and Profane love, with happy endings for Linda, Betsy and their lovers. Sheila is a literal Jess Franco scorpion woman, who unleashes the stinging insects on Ron (cf Pamela Stanford in LORNA, THE EXORCIST-1974) before a disgruntled employee bursts in, finishing her off. Evans, born in Santiago, Chile in 1956 as Arlene Guevara Gatica, was a well known Clasificada “S” performer at the time and she manages to act up a storm as the manipulative femme fatale, constantly keeping an eye on her slaves, meting out punishments and even doing an erotic dance number accompanied by a disco vocal included in the fun Gerhard Heinz score, which is available on CD. Evans also appeared in Vicente Aranda’s 1980 erotic thriller, THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN PANTIES, Ignacio Iquino’s EMANUELLE AND CAROL (1978) and Manuel Esteba’s crime-sleaze thriller, SITUACION LIMITE (1982). Bea Fiedler has an amusing turn as Mitsy, the “Champagne Girl” who is desperate to bag customers before the other women can and attempts to seduce DP Juan Cozar, who cameos as a nervous John. German actor (BLOODY MOON)/producer/director (BABY STRICH IM SPERRBEZIRK-1982) appears as the lead bouncer-thug of the brothel.
Not a bad Franco Women In Peril effort, but far from tier one consideration. It mainly lingers as one of numerous international softcores of that era. Obviously it kept the director busy fulfilling his German co-production deal which also included DEVIL HUNTER and SADOMANIA (both 1980). Franco is credited as “Jack Griffin” on some prints of this and the other German co-productions. Some versions also cut some of the sadistic torture material.
(C) Robert Monell, 2016