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The Frightened Woman (and some ramblings...)

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Posted 5th April 2009 at 06:34 PM by Sam@Cult Labs
Updated 5th April 2009 at 07:46 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

I used to write a moderately successful blog on Myspace called DVDisgo until the powers that be removed it for reasons unknown.

Since then I've been waiting for a good place to start blogging again so here we are. This is just a test to see how the site works.

Here's an old review...

60s Italian Sexploitation of the highest order, The Frightened Woman is a visual feast of weirdness and arty sleaze from director Piero Schivazappa, a man who went on to make many an erotic TV Mini-series and 80s soft porn video staples like "Lady of the Night". Stylish in the extreme, the films main location is a riot of designer furniture and psychedelic interior design, while the often naked cast look great in the fashions of the day and the inventive camera work plus prime lounge score combine to create a steamy atmosphere of fear and vice...

This slice of Pop-Art strangeness stars Phillippe Leroy (Nikita, A Man Called Blade, The Night Porter) as Dr Sayer, a super rich man, living the 60s high life in a space age bachelor pad. But his philanthropic exterior and suave demeanor hide a twisted secret. He is a man who can only satisfy his sexual urges by striking fear into the hearts of woman. He says that he loves to kill his kidnapped victims at the point of orgasm, but is this just elaborate fantasy or sinister truth?

Dr Sayer meets his match when he kidnaps an attractive young journalist, Maria. She's played by Dagmar Lassander, who appeared in all manner of odd sleaze, like the incomparable Werewolf Woman, Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion and a couple of early 80s Fulci horror movies, The Black Cat and House by the Cemetery. Maria is duped into visiting Sayer at his luxury home, on the premise that she can pick up some documents for a story she is writing. But on her arrival, Sayer takes her prisoner, before subjecting her to all manner of stylishly photographed acts of sadism.

When he's finished spraying her in an empty pool will a high pressure hose, cutting her hair off, chaining her a concrete block, teasing her with daggers and generally slapping her about, she manages to gain his trust and starts laying a honey trap. As she ensnares his emotions, he starts to open up, confessing that his murder spree of loose women is a fantasy and that he acts out his deadly desires with call girls.

The film then changes tack, transforming into a romantic cheesefest, as the couple gambol through meadows, gaze into each others eyes and take steamy showers together. In one hilarious sequence of unsubtle symbolism, the film implies that Maria goes down on Dr. Sayer at a railroad crossing. As he gets more aroused, a gaily decorated train passes, upon it's roof a gaggle of young women, all playing clarinets in a way that leaves little to the imagination.

All this inspired lunacy leads up to a great climax and a neat twist at the end that won't come as a surprise considering the bizarre and flimsy plotting that it follows. The Frightened Woman, like many sex films coming out of Europe at the time, is not too explicit in terms of graphic sex but holds the viewers interest with it's air of perversity and expert filmmaking technique. This isn't amateur hour euro-trash, it's a great example of 60s world cinema and deserves high praise for it's inventiveness. From it startling, colourful opening credits to dream sequences involving Sayer walking inside a giant sculpture of a woman through a vaginal opening with sharp teeth (A scene that echos the giant naked statues of woman in the similarly themed Japanese sex movie Blind Beast), The Frightened Woman offers viewers a unique cinematic experience that will please long term cult fans as well as new comers to these type of films. It's got all the weirdness, violence and sex a good exploitation movie needs, while at the same time being well made enough not to be off putting to an inexperienced audience.

Shameless Screen Entertainment present a director approved composite print that brings all the available elements together. Most of the movie looks great, with the colourful 60s styling popping out nicely. A warning card before the movie states that some source material is flawed and this becomes evident when viewing. A few scenes dip in quality but this a small price to pay for such a great movie and, considering the age and obscurity of the presentation, it makes very little difference. Packaged as usual in Shameless' collectable numbered sleeves with a trailer reel of other trashy flicks, The Frightened Woman should be on every bizarre movie fans wish list...
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