It was the horse teeth behind the titular red lips that freaked Judge Steve Evans out, man.
"How to Create an Army of Young Lovers"—Kiss Me Monster
A deuce of psychedelic spy-spoof flicks from the Spanish director of exploitation schlock, Jess Franco. Bad dubbing, pitiful acting, and some bizarre go-go dancing combine with a bit of nudity to turn this 1969 double feature into a low-rent guilty pleasure. Don't even bother trying to make sense of it all.
Facts of the Case
• Two Undercover Angels Two Undercover Angels marks the first appearance of the Red Lips Detective Agency, a couple of strippers who moonlight as secret agents (Janine Reynaud, who also starred in Franco's Succubus, and Rosanna Yanni, an Argentinean beauty whose acting resume includes gaps of up to 19 years). Reynaud is the brains of the operation; Yanni acts as though she must remember to breathe regularly.
While the Red Lips gals try on garish, revealing costumes, the police investigate a series of baffling disappearances. Young women are kidnapped from bridal shops and boutiques, later dragged to a gothic art gallery where a photographer snaps pictures of the women suffering various tortures.
The Red Lips gals transform into undercover angels to infiltrate the art gallery and solve the murders, which are being committed by a Neanderthal-like monster. Before they crack the case, the angels will frolic at several nightclubs, remove their clothes, and dodge death by bomb, blow dart, and bad vibes.
• Kiss Me Monster In Kiss Me Monster Reynaud and Yanni reprise their roles as detective-strippers who are possibly working for Interpol. The girls are awakened in the dead of night by a young man with a delivery. Before he can explain why he's banging on their door at all hours, the man drops dead with a knife buried in his back. The Red Lips ladies take the only reasonable course of action: They dump the body in the ocean, then go off to a strip club to do their routine.
The mystery of the midnight delivery has something to do with a secret sect called the Abilene, weird cats who dress up in red choir robes and black hoods. Reynaud and Yanni forge allegiances with various oddballs, some of whom betray the gals in their quest to uncover the great Whatsit in the delivered box (shades of Kiss Me Deadly).
Ultimately Reynaud and Yanni seem as eager to disrobe as they are in cracking the case. A less than suspenseful shootout leads to a perfunctory ending as the Red Lips duo drive off with the mystery box, containing the secret of human cloning. None of this is satisfactorily explained, but it doesn't matter as Franco evidently ran out of film. The girls' laughter fills the soundtrack just as their horse-like mouths fill the screen. Black out.
Two Undercover Angels was also released as Sadisterotica. The second half of this double feature was sometimes shown as Bésame Monstruo (literally, Kiss Me Monster in Spanish) as well as Castle of the Doomed even though no castles are featured in the film.
What we've got, then, are a couple of cheesy, sleazy Franco flicks that point in the direction he was headed (Grand Guignol gore and sex) without actually getting there. Here, Franco's idea of a gore effect is to intercut a torture scene with three seconds of apparent documentary footage of a surgical procedure. It's like watching an amateur flick spliced together with footage from medical school instructional films. The final effect is laugh-out-loud goofy. Franco's later work would feature full-bore weirdness, spiced up with enough nudity and violence to get his films banned in certain parts of the world, notably his native country, Spain.
As cheesecake curiosities, Reynaud and Yanni are most alluring from the neck down. But when either woman smiles or laughs, her face transforms into Francis the Talking Mule. Whinny, snort; like if Gary Busey and Julia Roberts hooked up to produce a love child. The first time Reynaud cracked a smile scared the immortal hell out of me. As for their thespian abilities, I have been cruel enough already and will opine no more.
The digital transfers are clean and artifact-free, but betray the age of the source materials. Mono audio is clear but unremarkable. Minor complaint: I would rather hear the actors speaking Italian and Spanish with English subtitles onscreen, than endure this ridiculous dubbing, which is more of a distraction than an enhancement of these admittedly guilty pleasures. Extras on the two-disc set include a trailer for each film as well as a pair of film-specific interviews with Franco. His comments veer from insightful to quite possibly insane, and are easily more entertaining than the films under discussion.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Both movies feature some great jazz by uncredited musicians and a lot of far-out go-go dancing. In the interviews on this set, Franco talks a big game about the ambition of his cinematic vision, but the director betrays any artistic intentions he may have had with lingering closeups of undulating breasts and buttocks.
Franco devotees might perceive these films as a turning point in his career, the moment where he began to push the envelope of gothic horror into the realm of sexual sadism and exploitative erotica. Enthusiasts might find this fascinating; I found it a bore.
Franco, now 76, has directed at least 200 films and possibly as many more under various pseudonyms, so give the guy credit for longevity. His peculiar take on the world can be fascinating at times (check out Venus in Furs). But the Red Lips Double Feature is not one of those times.
I wouldn't kiss those Red Lips; lord knows where they've been.
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