Friday, June 9, 2017

SLAVES (1977) (DVD Review)

SLAVES (1977) 
Label: Full Moon Features 
Region Code: 0 NTSC
Duration: 76 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 
Audio: German Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Martine Stedil, Vitor Mendes, Esther Moset, Jess Franco

In Slaves (1977), also known as Die Sklavinnen and/or Swedish Nympho Slaves, we have a very trashy women-in-peril entry from none other than Eurotrash superstar Jess Franco. The film begins with a scantily clad woman named Marta (Esther Moser, Sexy Sisters) clumsily making her way through the thick green canopy of the jungle before arriving at a shack with the words "Federal Police" literally written in marker onto a sheet of paper, ha ha. Once inside she collapses, hen she comes through she spins a sordid tale of escaping the clutches of the dope peddling/woman whoring Madama Araminda, played by Franco's 70s sex-kitten and future wife, the lovely Lina Romay. Araminda is the proprietor of a local dope/whore house known as the Pagoda, and apparently that story Marta spun was a whopper, because in the very next scene Araminda has been imprisoned eat the Snake Island Prison, but as we catch up to het she is in the process of escaping with the help of a young woman named Ebenholz (Aida Vargas) and an unknown benefactor.

Ebenholz and Araminda arrive at a designated meeting point where they are intercepted by a menacing character played by director Jess Franco, an assistant/enforcer to a wealthy man named Amos Radeck (Vítor Mendes, Call of the Blonde Goddess), the mysterious benefactor, who wants answers from Araminda, like what happened to his daughter and where exactly the five million dollars in ransom he paid for her went... apparently the brothel owner was involved in a kidnap/ransom scheme involving the billionaires sexy daughter Martine (Martine Stedil, Die Marquise Von Sade). Radeck's enforcer strips off Araminda's shirt and begins burning her bare breasts with his lit cigarette, promising more torture is to come if she does not come forward with information about Radeck's daughter and the ransom money. While all this is happening fatso Radeck is looking bemusedly at a comic book.
From this point the story evolves into a series of flashbacks narrated by Araminda, we find out about her seedy drug/whore business, how she combed the beaches of her island community looking for fresh meat for her whorehouse, The Pagoda. How she seduced Martine with some sexy lesbian loving and then drugged her with psychotropic drugs that made her forget not only who she was, but also convincing her that she was a whore and that Araminda is a princess, damn, those are some good drugs!

As you may have surmised Araminda is not a nice lady to work for, she drugs her whores, beats them, and routinely has them raped by her horny goons when they step out of line, one of the rapes is pretty damn violent, but still not x-rated. She's not above killing them when they turn on her, as one of the whores named Vicky (Peggy Markoff, Barbed Wire Dolls) finds out, she's strangled by Araminda's own gown. It was nice to see the lovely Romay play someone villainous, usually she plays the victim being manipulated, so this was a nice turn of character for her, though she's still a charmer to me, even as cold as she plays it she's still smoldering 

Even by Franco standards of the era there's a lot of lady flesh on display here, gorgeous 70s women in various states of undress, usually baring it all, leaving very little to the imagination, subjected to various cruelties including water torture, rape, or serving as stripper eye candy for despicable men. The story is threadbare, even by the usually slim Franco standards, but it is a fun exploitation romp through the lens of Franco, attractively shot in location in Portugal with keen lensing by cinematographer Peter Baumgartner (Jack the Ripper) with a groovy and somewhat exotic jazzy score from Peter's brother Walter Baumgartner (Die Marquise von Sade), both of whom Franco worked with on many of the films he made with Swiss producer/financier Swiss producer Erwin C. Dietrich. Franco also handles some of the cinematography himself, clearly evident from his use and love of the numerous zoom-in shots. 

The movie ends with a wonderfully nasty twist that is superbly diabolical, while not one of my favorite Franco films the story is threadbare fun and delivers all the Franco goods in spades, loads of nudity, lots of sleaze and some atmospheric lensing. 

As for the extras, we get the same 40-min Franco, Bloody Franco

audio interview that showed up on both Full Moon's Women in Cell Block 9 and Jack The Ripper releases. It's from 1976, conducted in French, with burned-in English subtitles, Franco touches on his version of Jack the Ripper, Roger Corman and his unflattering views on Spanish horror star Paul Naschy. There's also a trailer for the film and a 7-min VHS trailer reel of Franco films.

Special Features:
- Franco, Bloody Franco: Audio Interview with Jess Franco (French with English subtitles)(40 min) 
- Vintage VHS Franco Trailer Reel (7 min)

I am loving these Jess Franco DVD releases from Full Moon, my only beef is that these are so nice looking that they deserve proper Blu-ray releases, I would love to see these get an HD bump in the near future.  This is part of Full Moon's 10-part Jess Franco Collection, each sold separately, and when placed together the spines form a portrait of Franco, which is pretty cool.