Venus in Furs (Paroxismus) (1970)
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Venus in Furs is a true classic in Jess Franco canon, but you should not expect an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel of the same name. In fact, The Velvet Underground song of the same name has more to do with the novel than Franco's film. However, given Franco's fascination with sexploitation, horror and Marquis de Sade stories, it is not surprising that he would attempt a film with the title Venus in Furs. The film features some brief moments of S&M but never in the way that the novel depicts them. Instead, Franco crafts a supernatural, surrealistic tale of sexual excess and revenge that takes the viewer both to the heights of pleasure as well as to the nadir of meaningless, ambiguity, and despair. Ultimately, Venus in Furs is a film about how we construct our identities based upon our sexuality and our relationships with others. Indeed, if Venus in Furs the film has a statement about masochism, it is that all love is masochistic because it gives the other the privileged place of defining our identities. Venus in Furs is Franco at his best and a film that should not be missed by fans of horror and exploitation cinema.
Poor acting, slow to plodding plot. But what really ticks me off is there was no attempt to sync the main character's valve fingering and breathing to his trumpet music. Can you believe that?
As near as I can tell the three perverts are as follows - a sadist, a lesbian, and a guy who likes feet and cunnilingus. After a night of wanton free love, Wanda ends up dead. Trumpter and Wanda lover (?) finds her washed up on the shore. Then years later she starts cock blocking Baraba McNair. Is she a ghost? Is she a succubus? It would have been awesome, and a real giallo tweest, if she had been trumpet boy dressed up on a killing spree. But no, there is a lot of slow motion and wavy special effects for dreamlike scenes. There are some great shots of Wanda in a wig and garters posing about. But her methods of killing are stupid. She provides one last night of pleasure before the men have heart attacks and the lesbo slices up her wrists in the bath. Horrible melodramatic soundtrack and stupid manferd man theme song round out this sometimes painful display of kinky sleaze.
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