THE GIRL FROM RIO
From prolific Eurotika director Jess Franco comes The Girl from Rio, a cocktail swilling 1960s espionage actioner starring Bond girl Shirley Eaton as a bisexual super villain hell-bent on conquering the world with an army of beautiful women. But standing in her way is George Sanders’ slimy British mobster and Richard Wyler’s square-jawed secret agent…
Inspired by the comic strip capers of 1966’s Modesty Blaise and 1968’s Barbarella, Franco and producer Harry Alan Towers first gave Sax Rohmer’s female Fu Manchu, Sumuru, a kinky makeover in 1967’s The Million Eyes of Sumuru. This colourful campy 1969 sequel isn’t in their league, but it does make great use of Rio’s Sugarloaf mountain (and gave Sanders and co an exotic paid holiday), while the cool production design and sexy sci-fi clobber are very much of the era. There’s also quite a bit of flesh on show and a large chunk of running time devoted to Rio’s carnival. Eaton retired from acting after making this film, while Sanders, who was already in poor health, would take his own life just three years later, in 1972.
Mediumrare Entertainment offers a fine print on this UK DVD release, with some interesting extras including a 2004 documentary featuring director Franco, who sums up his films as: ‘It’s not art, but it makes you happy.’
HOUSE OF 1000 DOLLS
The dolls in this Euro thriller about modern-day white slavery are a bevy of lingerie-clad beauties – 12 or so, not 1000 – being held captive in a Tangiers mansion. Vincent Price and Martha Hyer use their magic act as cover for the abductions, which they do on behalf of the mysterious King of Hearts. George Nader (aka Rock Hudson’s former lover) plays a detective whose investigation into a friend’s murder leads him to the dollhouse.
One can only imagine how this Euro thriller – and guilty pleasure – would have turned out had Hammer’s Terence Fisher not fallen ill before shooting the original Victorian adventure script. Instead, producer Towers wrote a screenplay which puts his real-life wife (Maria Rohm) in as many scenes as possible and reduces Vincent Price to a supporting role. At least the iconic star gets a memorable death scene.
This first-ever UK DVD release from Mediumrare Entertainment features a lovely print and a gallery of on-set photos (mainly of Maria Rohm), and will be of interest to both Price fans and vintage exploitation cinema enthusiasts.
For a full review of House of 1000 Dolls, check out The Sound of Vincent Price blog.