Ah, the giallo. Such a peculiar little genre. So few of these films are actually good movies, at least in the popular sense of the word; no, most of these Italian imports are silly, contrived, misogynistic, violent, and overtly sexual. That's why I love 'em.
Of course, not all gialli are created equal. There are some that transcend the genre, and have gone on to become influential "horror" classics; films like Argento's Deep Red, and Mario Bava's Bay of Blood.
Then there are films like French Sex Murders, a movie that...simply is.
When Francine, a prostitute, is murdered in a local brothel, the suspect is Antoine, one of her regular clients, who, when we are first introduced to him, is seen robbing a church for jewelry to present to his beloved whore/girlfriend. Antoine, however, insists he is not guilty and escapes, only to end up literally losing his head in a messy car chase. The police close the book on the killing, assuming that the murderer is now dead, but when another prostitute from the very same brothel is killed, red herrings abound, and it's up to a Humphrey Bogart lookalike (Sacchi) to find the real killer. Is it pipe-smoking arrogant guy? How about arrogant girl-slapping guy? Could it be the chick from The Killer Nun (Ekberg)? Who knows? And, quite frankly, who cares? This movie isn't about conclusions, it's about the madness that leads us there, and this one's chock-full o' nuts, believe me. From its psychedelic soundtrack to its bizarro death sequences (in which we are shown the same thing over and over using different colour filters), French Sex Murders is like dropping acid during a Bogart movie.
While not as sexy or bloody as most of its contemporaries, what truly makes this one a guilty pleasure is Sacchi's "The Inspector". I have no idea what posessed Merighi to cast a Bogart lookalike (replete with trenchcoat, cigarette, and marble-mouth delivery) as this film's hero, but the results are side-splittingly funny. The rest of the cast is a virtual who's who of Euro Sleaze, making this something of the giallo equivalent of a Love Boat episode. Add to that boatloads of out-of-focus shots, jarring zooms, and crazy edits, and you'd think you were watching a parody of the genre, which makes French Sex Murders even more fun, as these folks were, apparently, dead serious!
Mondo Macabro unleashes yet another obscurity upon us, this time loading it up with a documentary on producer Dick Randall, deleted and alternate scenes, a stills and ephemera gallery, trailers, and more.Euro-Sleaze fans need no urging from me to rush right out and buy this film, as it obviously belongs in their collections.