Friday, January 8, 2010
a.k.a. Quartier de femmes, Lovers of Devil's Island
Jess Franco's women in prison follow up to 99 WOMEN is one of the director's most subdued genre efforts. It plays more like a gothic soap opera than the exploitive Euro trash that gained him notoriety. On his death bed, Colonel Mendoza (Jean Guedes) reveals to criminal lawyer, Linsday (Dennis Price), how he and Senora Cardel (Rosa Palomar) drugged and framed a young couple for murder. Mendoza's motivations were to get his hands on a fortune held by his deceased wife's sister, Beatriz(Geneviève Robert), while hag bag Senora Cardel sought revenge on her revolutionary boy toy, Raymond Franval (Andrés Resino), who had become Beatriz's lover. The prison sequences revolve around the slammer sweethearts undying love and the desolate emotions of their impending death sentence. There are some mild scenes of torture, but even one involving some sort of death rayis tastefully handled. For the most part, eroticism is ignored with Beatriz's stint focusing on a gloomy friendship with a fellow inmate and Raymond's martyrdom as a second rate COOL HAND LUKE. Armed with the dying declaration of their innocence, will Linsay be able to blackmail Senora Cardel and gain access to the prison so he can free our Romeo & Julliet? Will our detention duo bust out and and start a revolution? I actually have to give Jess credit for his ability to maintain an atmospherically somber tone and taking this PG material into a nihilistic tailspin for thefinale. This is required viewing for Franco fanatics. The rest of us can go about our business, satisfied in knowing that love dies at the hands of a firing squad. DEVIL’S ISLAND LOVERS is available on DVD in Anamorphic widescreen with no extras from Image Entertainment. The Tartan British DVD, a double feature with NIGHT OF THE ASSASINS, contains 32 minutes of deleted and alternateDEVIL’S ISLAND LOVERS footage used for different markets. Most of this VHS quality footage is from the French version called QUARTIER DE FEMMES and features a long sex scene between Rosa and Beatriz, Rosa having a three way with another inmate and a guard, more torture and a bloodier bullet to the head ending. Jess Franco would abandon the lofty penal social commentary of this film and fire his sleaze missile into tuna town with his next women in prison film BARBED WIRE DOLLS.