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Kiss Me Monster

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Release Date: 
Anchor Bay UK
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Directed by: 
Jess Franco
Janine Reynaud
Rosanna Yanni
Adrian Hoven
Michel Lemoine
Bottom Line: 

 This late-sixties, Spanish/German co-production attempts to bring the brazen, low-fi, slapdash b-movie aesthetic of unique cult director, Jess Franco to the spy movie genre. More specifically, the bizarre "Kiss Me Monster" is a bewildering hybrid of comedy, science fiction, crime mystery, mild erotic fantasy and mad scientist monster flick -- all stitched together by a frenetic soundtrack of 'groovy' freeform jazz! "Kiss Me Monster" takes Hollywood-derived popular movie clichés and twists, distorts and merges them in the cheap & broken pieces of Franco's cinematic reflecting mirror!
Once again, it must be emphased that this is one of those Franco films that divides the casual movie fan from the committed Francophile -- a bit like modern art really, you either get it or you don't! From a conventional point of view, this flick could be seen as nothing but a random pile of cutting room floor clippings from other peoples' films and grainy library footage, loosely fashioned into an incoherent, made-up-on-the-spot story during the non sequitur ridden English dub track. In fact, this is probably exactly the same conclusion many Francophiles would come to as well; it's just that we wouldn't necessarily count that as a negative!
This oddity though -- featuring many of the same cast who appeared in the sublime "Sucubus" as well as the companion film "Sadisterotica" (which was probably shot simultaneously) -- is most definitely not one of Franco's finer moments. Produced by Adrian Hoven, who also stars in this and many of the director's films from the period, it represents ambition over achievement and - if it has any appeal at all - is watchable more for the sheer cheek Franco displays in trying to pass this muddy, no-budget, slapdash concoction off as a high-octane, screwball comedy-mystery!
The gorgeous Janine Reynaud and Rosanna Yanni play Diana and Regina: a duo of flighty young private detectives who are collectively known as the "Red Lips" Detective Agency. The characters pop up here-and-there throughout Franco's huge filmography; first of all in 1960's "Labios Rojos" (where the prototype characters where called Christina and Lola) and most recently in the director's soft porn opus "Red Silk". Reynaud and Yanni are generally held to have given the definitive portrayal in the two movies made and released between 1967 and 1969 though, and their sparkling repartee is indeed, still discernible through the incomprehensible English dub track we are forced to view the film in here.
The "story" is rather hard to make any sense of whatsoever on first viewing: the film is supposed to have a mystery element to it, so information is deliberately withheld to make events appear incongruous and opaque. Undercover spies, secret sects and illicit scientific researchers are all at war as each attempts to discover the location of a nutritive serum that allows artificial superhumans to be grown outside the womb!
Franco starts the film at the end of the story and then flashes back to reveal how the two hip heroines stumbled on to the bizarre intrigues occurring on an isolated tropical island. Diana and Regina return to their picturesque shared accommodation with a large wooden crate, just obtained on their last case; two men claiming to be from Interpol arrive, and the ladies recount the events that lead them to obtain their mysterious haul. These events start with the arrival at the duo's house of an informant who is killed by a knife in the back before he can reveal any information apart from the word "Christopher"; also, a fragment of a music script for a song called "The Song of Abeline" by Jack Bertram, is found clutched in his hand. With only these two small clues to go on, our wisecracking heroines set out for the tropical island of the Abelines - a secret Mason-like sect that numbers many important luminaries among its membership.
Soon the "Red Lips" find themselves in the centre of a confusing web of intrigue and murder as they attempt to discover the secrets of the Abeline and Professor Bertram's nutritive serum, while posing as (of course) a musical strip act! Shady spies, suave lounge lizards and a council of masked sect members who meet in an abandoned chapel assail the giggling girls -- who appear completely unfazed by the fact that people are dropping dead like flies all around them despite their being unable to discover anything very much!
Eventually they are lead to a neighbouring island where an all-female group of dusky feminists reside, and where secret experiments are being carried out by Professor Bertram's one-time associate, Jacques Maurier (Michel Lemoine). All of these people want to get their hands on Bertram's secret formula for various reasons: the Abeline sect to continue their bloodline, the feminist tribe to destroy this research that represents a crime against the female body and Maurier to perfect his continuation of Bertram's original work -- but only Diana and Regina unknowingly hold the key to its location!
The convoluted plot makes a great deal more sense on second viewing, even with the awkward phrasing of the English audio dub track, but the film is far too visually uneventful and drab to work as the kind of goofy, psychedelic espionage flick the director wants it to be. The pace soon slows, and then grinds to a halt as - for no discernible reason - we are forced to slog through endless library-derived footage of groovy sixties cats jiving in night-clubs and the like! The surreal, erotic nature of Franco's best work is sacrificed for tongue-in-cheek, b-movie shenanigans that don't really come off, and the film fails to amuse.
Reynaud and Yanni look great, and manage to single-handedly keep some degree of energy flowing through the veins of this dying enterprise, while male co-stars, Adrian Hoven and Michel Lemoine, also do a good job as smarmy agent, Eric Vicas and deranged surgeon, Jacques Maurier respectively - but it isn't enough to turn this into anything more than a curiosity for committed Francophiles.
Anchor Bay UK's disc is a re-release of the old, now discontinued US Anchor Bay release and consequently, is not really up to the standard of AB UK's current output. The print is non-anamorphic and letterboxed at approximately 1.66:1; it looks rather faded and worn and also rather blurry. The audio options include a Stereo 2.0 mix (although it's really mono) and a poor 5.1 Surround Sound mix with DTS option. Extras consist only of a Franco biography and a set of trailers for AB UK's most recent Franco releases.
A no thrills, bare bones release for a no-thrills, bare bones movie then. Newer Franco fans, who've been unable to track down the AB US release (which can be quite expensive), now have a much cheaper option though -- and for that, Anchor Bay UK can be congratulated.

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