Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
French Sex Murders (1972)
Available from Mondo Macabro | Review by Dan Taylor

I'll always have a warm place in my heart for low-budget movie producer Dick Randall thanks to his role behind the scenes of the giallo-gore classic PIECES (where's the DVD for this?!). Thanks to Mondo Macabro's 'Dick Randall Collection,' exploitation fans like myself are getting an even better glimpse of the guy who brought us five decades worth of entertaining sleaze like WILD, WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD, KONG ISLAND, THE GIRL IN ROOM 2A, FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS and FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY, not to mention a bevy of Bruce Lee rip-offfs.

The first volume in MM's 'Dick Randall Collection' (followed by 1990's LIVING DOLL) features the 1972 giallo FRENCH SEX MURDERS starring a who's who of Eurotrash from Jess Franco stalwart Howard Vernon and SLAUGHTER HOTEL's Rosalba Neri to sultry Barbara Bouchet and the voluptuous Anita Ekberg (looking a bit tranny-ish as the saucy Madame Collette).

Petty criminal Antoine (Pietro Martellanza) steals some (cheap looking) jewelry to fund his night at Madame Collette's House of Love. Francine (Bouchet) is his girl of choice and he drapes her with his booty and promises her more, more, more if she'll just be his. Unfortunately, her job as a prostitute gets in the way and Antoine freaks out, slapping her around and calling her a "bloody whore" in an oddly-dubbed Brit accent.

When Francine turns up dead a short time later – her skull bashed in by a handy bedside alabaster lamp – Inspector Pontaine (played in full faux Bogie mode by Robert Saachi of THE MAN WITH BOGART'S FACE) suggests that it all seems pretty cut and dried. Antoine was the last to see Francine alive and he ran from the cops when he got to the street. He must have done it, despite his protests to the contrary.

Which means, as any good giallotrash buff knows, he definitely DIDN'T do it. Regardless, Antoine gets put on trial and found guilty (in what seems like a matter of days), sentenced to the guillotine, promises revenge from beyond the grave, escapes from prison, and loses his head – literally – when he blows through the world's lamest police roadblock. Frenchies.

Will Antoine's death be the end of the French Sex Murders? Not likely as we're left with a bevy of suspects/victims that need to offed in clever and grotesque fashion for the next 60 minutes. There's Madame Collette (Ekberg), Antoine's ex-wife Maryanne (Neri) and her slimy-looking hubbie Pepi (Rolf Eden who resembles Urge Overkill lead singer Nash Kato), the trial's quick-to-convict judge, his head-obsessed professor pal (Vernon), the professor's assistant, the professor's daughter (Evelyne Kraft), random sluts, and even a writer comically named Randall who has been living at the house of ill repute researching a book for the sleazy American market.

Though a bit too leisurely paced for my taste, THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS is an interesting curio with the added bonus of seeing Sacchi doing his Bogart thing. And that's exactly what he's doing – being Bogart in a giallo. So, if that idea piques your interest FRENCH SEX MURDERS aka THE BOGEYMAN AND THE FRENCH MURDERS (seriously) is probably worth your time.

Edited by future Italian gore helmer Bruno Mattei (NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, RATS: A NIGHT OF TERROR, ZOMBIE 3), the flick features an effective presentation of its death scenes, with victims getting their comeuppance via quick, multi-hued repetitions of their final moments complete with effects by future Oscar winner Carlo Rambaldi (ET). A jazzy score courtesy of Bruno Nicolai (the finale's chase tunage is a boss treat) and typically overpacked giallo plot earn this one a recommendation.

Bonus features on the DVD include a half-hour documentary on Randall's colorful career which I'm looking forward to checking out.

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