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Paula Paula

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Directed by: 
Jess "Jesus" Franco
Paula Davis
Carmen Montes
Lina Romay
Bottom Line: 

This is an attempted “artsy” erotica film, the latest work by Jess Franco. Love him or hate him, I have to give props to any director who has directed more underground flicks than I have written reviews. Yet, for those of you who have seen a significant number of his hundreds of films, some familiar themes are visible, evident here. They have sexy scantily clad women who dance around at all times when there is no reason they even be moving whatsoever. It’s got themes of lesbianism, as in the countless women in prison movies of which Franco was a pioneer. Finally it has Lina Romay, who appears here as the last film role of her life, as a police woman named Alma who must sort out the strange murder of a woman named Paula by another woman named Paula. Confused yet? Don’t be, this film only has three people in it and I have just named them, moreover this film is 67 minutes long and the spoken dialogue would fit comfortably on the back of the DVD case. 

Here’s the plot: after her arrest for the disappearance of her roommate “Blonde” Paula, “Spanish” Paula is taken to the police station and asked some questions about the exact nature of her disappearance, which seem to have been under mysterious circumstances.  From there, the entire story is told through flashback form as a bizarre music video of sorts. Expectedly, Spanish Paula disrobes and gyrates around while catchy Jazz plays in the background, for twenty plus minutes! Of course, Blonde Paula soon shows up and the two start hinting about doing some horizontal “grooves” of their own.  But first they must dance independently for another twenty minutes, each utilizing a highly stylized camera trick that is supposed to depict the personality (if not the true soul) of each girl. Blonde Paula constantly dances in a Fun House mirror effect where her face seldom appears, yet her form appears completely symmetrical; doubled, reversed even as you can’t always tell what part of her anatomy you are looking at. Spanish Paula’s background is living aluminum foil mishmash where strange faces and vague scenes unfold in blue screen while she continues to gyrate for absolutely no reason at all. When the two finally meet and start taking off their clothes and making out (close to an hour later) I have to say that it was nice to FINALLY see some attempt at character development, however dumb, silent and pornographic. Of course, because this is a Jess Franco picture, you just know it’s not going to end with a loving embrace. Sure enough; things don’t end well for one of the Paulas, because the other one pulls a knife out and slices her lovers throat at once, bringing a whole never before seen insane escalation of “scissor action” to this girl on girl unrated romp.

I never give away the plot to a film that strove to have one, but this was a bizarre stupid thing that only Jess Franco himself could actually have made and still be taken seriously afterward.  With a running time of an hour and change, a bizarre repetitive activity that was repeated; exaggerated throughout its duration using camera tricks, very little dialogue and a cast of three actors, filmed in entirety in a single room or two, this isn’t a work of erotica, it’s an underground fetish flick for people who always wanted to see a backstreet girl on girl snuff film set to a continuous swanky Jazz instrumental theme. Tsk, Tsk, Mr Franco, I remember a time when your flicks were loud, brassy and hurt the viewer’s head in more ways than just by their soundtrack.  

Special features include some short interviews with Jess Franco himself where he talks candidly about his theories on contemporary film making in general and on this film, which he pretty much refuses to discuss whatsoever (Good Move). It seems he is a smart talented guy after all; let’s hope this isn’t his last film, (which is the exact opposite of I would say about almost any other director who would make this).

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