If you dream about sadomasochism, Judge Brett Cullum ponders, does that make you a sexual deviant? Let's ask the transexual dominatrix with the two chained slaves.
Transsexual African goddess enslaves two Spanish yuppies!
Macumba Sexual is a relatively late entry in the erotic Euro-shock horror genre, and symbolizes all the excess "bad" cinema lovers associate with this kind of Jess Franco affair. The music and visuals are sublime: sexy nude actors, jazz influenced score, and gorgeous shots of beaches and deserts. The plot doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and can be seen as secondary to the inherent tripiness going on around the characters. Macumba Sexual pushes the boundary between eroticism and pornography, and nailed the coffin of the erotic horror industry pushing it in to the realm of grind house. If the prospect of sexy European horror entices you, you're in the right place.
Lina Romay (billed here as "Candy Coster," Snakewoman) is a young wife with a loving husband (Antonio Mayans, billed here as "Robert Foster," Mansion of the Living Dead) and jet set lifestyle. Things would be perfect, except she is plagued by strange, sexual dreams about a real estate client of hers named Princess Obongo (transsexual actress Ajita Wilson, Sadomania). In these nightmares the wife is sexually molested in disturbing ways, and (unwillingly, at first) engages in sadomasochism. Obongo begins to influence the pair in their waking life as well as in their dreams as her true nature is revealed; soon the pair commits depraved acts they never dared to imagine. Orgies, obscenely large real estate deals, calling on pagan gods, a director cameo as a mentally challenged suitor—nothing is off limits.
The director is Jess Franco (Venus in Furs, Vampyros Lesbos, Succubus, and hundreds of others), and Macumba Sexual is a release for Franco fans only. The print used is a gorgeously rendered anamorphic widescreen edition of the film which clearly reveals every act and sin. Flesh tones ring true, black levels are alright, and dirt and grain are minimal considering the film's age. The soundtrack is the original Spanish mono mix—a nice touch since most of the Jess Franco library on DVD is rendered in poorly performed English dubs. Extras are new interviews with the director and star Lina Romay which run twenty-two minutes and are subtitled like the feature. Franco dominates this footage with occasional interjections shown of Lina, who looks shockingly ravaged by time.
If you follow Jess Franco, the reason to own Macumba Sexual is because it represents some of the best work of his late Spanish period. In the '80s he went back to Spain to make movies, but found his budgets slashed and a dearth of actors to work with. Luckily for Jess, Lina Romay was around to star in his exploitation stories. They managed to crank out a few near-classics of softcore erotic cinema. Macumba Sexual plays out well with its dreamlike quality and striking score. The cast seems to be there merely for their physical presence rather than their acting range, particularly in the case of Ajita Wilson. She appears to be a purely sexual version of Christopher Lee—tall and intimidating, with a wicked laugh. Does it matter she was born a man? That just makes her domination of a married couple all the more perverse. If you're a Franco "newbie," I'd suggest renting or getting a copy of Venus in Furs or Vampyros Lesbos first. This isn't a film for virgins or prudes. It's a nice little erotic voodoo film with a lot of nudity, compelling visuals, and a random, plodding plot you'll forget about anytime someone gets naked. Sounds like the perfect Jess Franco film, and in man ways Macumba Sexual is.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Severin Films
• Interviews with Director Jess Franco and Star Lina Romay
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