Monday, November 19, 2012

Microreview [film]: Venus in Furs

The Meat

Not to be confused with the 19th century novel, the Velvet Underground song, or any of the other three or four other movies with the same title, this Venus in Furs is a surreal 1969 Euro-pop sexploitation movie from prolific exploitation director Jesus (or Jess) Franco. The film of his with the most name recognition is maybe Vampyros Lesbos. This one stars former teen idol heartthrob James Darren (about as far here from Gidget as you can get), the gorgeous Maria Rohm, and Klaus Kinski, also long of the exploitation film scene.

James Darren plays Jimmy, a down-on-his-luck jazz musician who finds a dead, naked girl washed up on the beach while he's trying to get away for a bit and get his head straight. Clearly, finding a dead hottie won't really help in that department, but things get even worse when he returns to Rio to get back into playing music and starts seeing her walking around in the living, breathing flesh. It turns out this is Wanda (Rohm), who was a naive innocent who fell into the hands of bloodthirsty sex deviants. They killed her, dumped her body, and somehow now Wanda is back and hungry for revenge. And also sex with Jimmy, but nothing serious, which gets him all tied up in knots inside.

I think. I mean, it's complicated. But I think that's about right. If you're in the mood for it, this is a pretty engaging movie, despite its many oddities and inscrutable elements. Make no mistake, no matter how into it you are, there are going to be moments where you're scratching your head and wondering if you missed something, but you probably didn't. If you're into abstract, this very 1960s erotic/horrific tone poem has its rewards. Not the least of which is the very catchy theme song, which is sung throughout.

The Math

Objective Quality: 5/10

Bonuses: +1 for Maria Rohm; +1 for the pervasive, expressionistic atmosphere throughout

Penalties: -1 for the unnecessary and cliched twist at the very end of the film.

Cult Movie Coefficient: 6/10. Still enjoyable, but the flaws are hard to ignore.

[See explanation of our non-inflated scores here.]