If Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger told you about all of his inconfessable orgies, they wouldn't be "inconfessable" now, would they?
Insatiable! Incendiary! Indecent!
I owe Jess Franco fans and Severin Films an apology. After an almost perpendicular descent in judgment scores for each subsequent Franco film I've seen—from a 94/100 for Blue Underground's release of Eugenie to 20/100 for Lust for Frankenstein—I went back to the well to review Severin's release of Mansion Of The Living Dead. Who knows what I was expecting. It is clear that Franco's fiscal relationship with Harry Alan Towers was necessary to achieve Franco's visions, and that low budgets don't suit him at all. Lack of cash combined with Franco's inability to compromise on anything turned Mansion Of The Living Dead into yet another Franco trainwreck, leading to this Verdict:
"The court will drop all charges if Franco agrees never to appear in this courtroom again."
And yet I did willingly and knowingly request another non-Towers-produced Jess Franco DVD. This is the last time…I swear.
Facts of the Case
A cheesy Spaniard gives a cheesy voiceover about a passionate couple on the rocks. We then see said couple frolicking in a wax museum. Shortly thereafter, all logic scatters to the four winds and every man and woman hooks up in an unending cycle of cheap (and cheaply shot) sex.
This title is fantastic: The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle. Roll it around on the palate of your mind; taste the scandal and sin those words suggest. Can you taste it? Good. Because that's as scorching as it gets.
The funny thing about watching the interviews included on virtually every Jess Franco DVD is that he convinces you there was a plan. In the case of The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle, Franco kicks off by debunking the title (he never intended to make an Emmanuelle knock off) and talks about the Madonna-whore complex as though it were a novel idea. Time and time again in these interviews, he paints a picture with his words and his enthusiasm. It's understandable how he keeps getting funded. Yet none of this makes it to the screen.
The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle is a mess. The scant plot somehow stretches interminably, turning the most comfortable easy chair into a straight backed, hardwood disciplinary chair in the corner. Whether you read the subtitles or listen to the wretched English dub, the dialogue reveals its ineptitude. The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle is literally painful to sit through.
To make matters worse, the sex is routine. A shoulder shrug, a bared breast or two, then repeated sequences of the same shots. We get it, Jess—you like to shoot Muriel Montossé in recline with her head at the right edge of the frame. You like to dwell on Asunción Calero's fire-engine-red lip gloss. Muriel Montossé is attractive to be sure, but sheer repetition renders the nudity in this flick moot.
The nudity is also rendered moot by Franco's appalling rape scenes and misogyny. He doesn't worry who he offends, but spurious rape scenes are low in any situation. Who says "Hey, let's insert a shot of the actress walking, forced to the ground by two men, and left behind like a Big Mac wrapper afterward! Then she can be laughing in the next scene and it'all all work out…the rape fetish folks will be satisfied and the red-blooded horndogs will be none the wiser!"
Because of its tiny budget, The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle doesn't look particularly good. Garish, unnatural colors make the naked people seem gangrenous and pale. The image judders in the frame. Contrast is low in both light and dark scenes. It resembles an elementary-school filmstrip in terms of color fidelity and contrast. Severin has capably transferred the film to DVD, but there isn't much to work with. As you might expect, the sound is thin, warbling, and tinny. The two tracks have different soundtracks and the English dub is laughably bad.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Yet The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle is not bereft of artistry. Franco has an uncanny ability with establishing shots. He loves villages and coastlines in particular. The same swooping pan over an evocative shoreline that made Eugenie ache with isolation gives The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle a noble air. Franco uses wax figures to comedic effect in the opening sex scene, though "overuses" might be a more appropriate term. There is an excellent shot of our sapphic heroines isolated from a smarmy man in a suit by a wrought-iron gate. The tight framing of his houndstooth jacket and the iron in high relief against Muriel Montossé's torso works visually and thematically. If Franco's clumsy ruminations on the disgusting nature of lesbianism detract from this image, at least it is there and shows what Jess can do on a shoestring.
Franco also gives his usual no-holds-barred interview. This time he pisses on Just Jaeckin and the plot of Emmanuelle. That I happen to agree with him doesn't change Franco's tacky conversational qualities. But he is entertaining—in the same way a sticky theater floor is tactile. As much as I loathe the man and his films, something has brought me back time and again. I truly wish I knew what that something was so I could indulge it and then purge it once and for all.
Any lingering Jess Franco curiosity you might have should be definitively squelched by The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle. At least, that's what I'm hoping for myself.
Not only are these orgies confessable, they are downright tame.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Severin Films
• Jess Franco interview
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