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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD. ArrowDrome.

The Devil's KissAhh, Eurocine – just seeing that name at the start of a film has long been a trademark of quality. Not necessarily good quality, of course, but you always knew what to expect from this prolific company – usually a pan-European production, often with a familiar cast (Olivier Mathot and Silvia Solar, both seen here, were regulars), and crude horror movies and softcore romps that were packed with gratuitous nudity and violence. Jesus Franco was one of their regular directors in the 1970s, and had I seen The Devil’s Kiss (or Devil Kiss as the credits call it) during the early days of home video, when I was first discovering that maverick genius’s work, I might well have assumed that Gordi Gigo was another Franco pseudonym, as this film has all the delirium you’d expect from the great man.

This tale of supernatural revenge is pretty wild stuff – Solar plays Claire Grandier, a former aristocrat fallen on hard times, who has teamed up with Professor Gruber (Mathot) to get her revenge on the people she blames for her fall from grace. Working as a psychic, she participates in one of Baron De Haussenment’s extravagant parties – frenetic voodoo dancing, jaw-dropping fashion shows and other novelties being laid on to amuse his guests – and impresses him enough to be allowed to stay on permanently, so that she and the Professor can complete their researches. Unfortunately for the Baron, these researches involve digging up a dead body, fixing it up and, through a combination of Satanism and mad science, resurrect the corpse and send him out to kill their enemies.

The Devil’s Kiss is a feast of sleazy goodness. The soundtrack blasts out warped, spectacular music that is begging for a soundtrack album, as the cast spout extraordinary dialogue (“I’m not interested in that funk” declares one fashion model as the party moves to attend the séance) and has a fantastically terrible monster, who stumbles about like a drunk but still manages to strangle several characters, including maid Loretta (Evelyne Scott), who we’ve previously seen disrobing in several vital moments (if we didn’t watch her get undressed at night, how would we know she didn’t sleep in her maid’s uniform?).

The Devil's KissAll the women here are the sort you only ever see in 1970’s Euro sleaze – effortlessly sexy and sporting vivid eye shadow and, in the fashion show, fashions that will make your brain fry. Watching the models dance, it’s like seeing Pan’s People on a bad trip. Maria Silva, another popular Euro starlet, pops up to be menaced at the end, but rather selfishly stays fully clothed. But ladies, don’t think there’s no eye-candy for you here; a sinful dwarf – in reality, a short man – turns up to lend a hand to the villainous couple, and a trendy photographer arrives rather late in the day as a hero figure. Oh, and there’s a sleazy, creepy butler who we see spying on a model in the shower and then attempting to rape her before giving up and making do with a quick slap instead. This early scene suggests he’ll be a sinister presence throughout, but he’s then forgotten about until the end, where he pops up to do very little.

Tremendous fun, The Devil’s Kiss is a reminder of an era now long gone, unfortunately. In an ideal world, Eurocine and their ilk would still be churning stuff like this out. But in the absence of any new Euro sleaze, at least we can be content to know that there is an almost bottomless pit of stuff out there still to be seen. This is a good place for the uninitiated to start!

Arrow’s DVD comes complete with a bunch of Eurocine trailers, all essential viewing (even though the films in question are a mixed bag) and a booklet by Stephen Thrower that I haven’t seen.






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