09th Feb2015

‘Wicked Women’ (1977) DVD Review (Ascot Elite)

by Mondo Squallido

aka FRAUEN OHNE UNSCHULD
Stars: Lina Romay, Nanda Van Bergen, Michael Maien, Esther Studer, Kurt Meinicke, Brigitte Meyer, Monica Swinn, Peggy Markoff, Peter Baumgartner, Dagmar Bürger | Written by Erwin C. Dietrich, Jesús Franco | Directed by Jess Franco

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Lina Romay (Downtown, Barbed Wire Dolls) stars as Margarita, a young woman who is discovered by police naked amongst a scene of bloody carnage. Unable to speak due to the trauma, she is sent to a nearby all women asylum. Unfortunately for her, the staff aren’t exactly too interested in her well being or recovery. When they aren’t trying to seduce Margarita or the other patients, they’re trying to figure out Margarita’s dark secret. You see, Margarita was involved in what she believed to be a harmless love triangle with a well to do couple. Unbeknownst to her, they were using her for more than just her looks, they want Margarita to assist in the smuggling of diamonds. Unfortunately for the pair, they are murdered and upon the discovery, Margarita collapses. Yep, it’s not the best few days for her and to make it worse, there’s a mysterious hooded figure going round offing members of staff and patients. Who is the caped killer? Is there a motive or is this just a mindless bender? Is Margarita’s past coming back to haunt her or do the staff have their own dark secrets? Am I asking too many questions and adding unneeded depth to a Jess Franco and Erwin C. Dietrich cheapie? Probably yes!

Compared to a lot of other Franco and Dietrich collaborations, there is a genuinely solid and cohesive story here. It’s a simple mystery that has some nice twists and turns that work very well. There’s an almost gialli feel to the film, especially when the killer is introduced. Of course, this is a WIP (or asylum) flick directed by Jess Franco starring Lina Romay so there’s a fair share of sleaze. Lina Romay puts in a fairly solid performance, a lot more reserved (she is essentially playing a mute for the majority of the film) than usual and somewhat believable, kinda. With a run time of only 74 minutes, it’s a short and sweet film that doesn’t really outstay its welcome. That being said, as solid of a production as it is, I didn’t have as much fun as I was expecting to. Being a fan of gialli cinema, seeing Franco almost touch (willingly or not) on the genre was a little treat. What this film does prove to some of the Franco naysayers is that Uncle Jess is more than just a schlocky director. Yeah, it’s a cheap film and there are some sleazy scenes (including a rather graphic closeup, that makes Fatal Attraction look PG-13), but it never turns the trash to 11.

Overall, it’s a solid mystery with an underlining WIP vibe. It’s more than just a piece of filler for the Jess Franco filmography. The release itself is rather light on the extras.You only get a trailer and photo gallery. In terms of presentation, the film looks and sounds nice and is presented in widescreen. That’s just from the DVD, so people picking up the Blu-Ray are in for a treat. The film is presented with a German dub and gives the options of either English or Dutch subtitles. You also get as always with the Ascot Elite releases, a reversible cover which gets rid of the pesky FSK 18 symbol. All in all, for the right price this is nice addition to the collection. It’s not the best release from the line both in terms of film and special features, but you can do a lot worse. Give it a go!

Wicked Women is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Ascot Elite Entertainment.

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