BR: Night of Open Sex / La noche de los sexos abiertos (1983)

July 4, 2020 | By

Film: Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: Very Good

Label:  Severin Films / Unobstructed View

Region: A, B, C

Released:  February 25, 2020

Genre:  Erotica / Sexploitation / Suspense

Synopsis: An erotic dancer teams up with a private dick, and using their noodles, search for stolen Nazi gold.

Special Features: 2 Featurettes: “In the Land of Franco Part 2” (15:27) + “The Night of Open Jess” (20:31) / 1993 interview with Donald Farmer: “When Donald Met Jess & Lina Part 2” (9:35).





“I don’t want to be rich, I want to continue making films. And my project is to make 100 more films.” – Jess Franco, after self-assessing a filmography of 160+ films in 1993.


Severin’s ongoing releases of rare, uncut Jess Franco oddities adds another weird tale from the Golden Films Internacional S.A. Productions catalogue which, according to Francophile Stephen Thrower, is the director’s third crack at Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold Bug,” although the only element retained from the short story is the race to decipher a code and track down a stash of Nazi gold.

There are many moments of open sex in this highly inconsistent production that may well have had just an outline, and left whole scenes to be worked out the day of filming, with input from the actors when they weren’t performing softcore sex, but perhaps NOOS’s draw are the smash cuts and abrupt oblique turns from sex film to thriller, maybe political thriller, caper, gangster film, and adventure.

Running 90 mins., NOOS feels like a slapdash of improvised, single take material often prolonged to damaging dullness, of which the worst are meandering sex scene; more often than not, they act as running time filler, and although sex is crucial to the story, their presentation is tonally inconsistent.

Lina Romay is Moira, a performance artist introduced in a montage of Ballardian-Cronenbergian car sex – Romay masturbates on & to a 1950s convertible in front of a live audience – that’s intercut with eerie nighttime footage of mysterious brute Al Crosby (Antonio Mayans), who drives aimlessly along a coastal city’s waterfront. The two initially unrelated streams feature very distinct music: the garish carnival song at the sex club, and the gorgeous atmospheric guitar piece previously heard in the vastly superior Cries of Pleasure (1983). (That vocal track, “Dame tu amor” is credited to one Carloto Perla, but Thrower suspects it’s another Franco pseudonym.)

That interplay between calm and vulgar could be the film’s most consistent element: for some easy cash, Moira is asked by a client to help him extract truth from Tina Klaus (Juana de la Morena), a woman who knows something secret about some general (Albino Graziani) living somewhere in the outer country environs. The information is shared only when Moira nonchalantly takes a hair tong and burns the insides of Klaus’ vagina, and when asked to impersonate the dead girl at the general’s home, she’s able to grab a pair of books which contain highlighted words that form a map to something super-duper-secret.

Crosby follows Moira to several destinations, and seems aware she knows something, as does a couple she met after a performance, Vickers (Miguel Angel Aristu) and squeeze Eva Palmer (Lorna Green). When Crosby catches up with Moira, he rapes her while eating a peach, and the scene that immediately follows has the pair laughing over drinks, and agreeing to collaborate on deciphering the book and whatever treasure it beholds. Rape? What rape?

Thrower’s spot on in crediting Franco for exploiting amazing locations – the coastal city in the Canary Islands, various remote villas, and the purple geo-blocks that make up the La Muralla Roja complex in Calpe, Spain which Franco previous used in She Killed in Ecstasy (1971), and reused for NOOS’s finale. There’s also the God’s Finger which is worked into a location where the couple travel and initially attempt to first decipher the code. The second and more successful effort happens after the pair has another extended sexual escapade on the veranda, while the house’s fettered owner complains from the living room couch.

When the pair do reach the treasure, their success is almost inert; they find golden bricks (resembling a batch of gold-wrapped Willy Wonka chocolate bars minus brand labeling), they have goofy sex, are interrupted mid-climax by greedy Eva and Vickers who split the bricks and let our hero & unlikely heroine (Hair tong torutre? What hair tong torture?) finish up until the end credits pop onscreen.

The production’s budgetary seams are everywhere, but the utter strangeness of Franco’s schizophrenic switches between genres, moods, and striking locations just barely keep one interested, and it’s arguably the bloated sex scenes which are the most trying. The vocal performances in the fairly crackly soundtrack are dubbed to even crazier loudness than Cries. Franco’s shots and edits often include bad angles that destroy the illusion of real penetration, and the actors seem to play their exclusive scenes as farcical comedy, with goofy moments of frustration, and Moira calling Crosby her Tarzan over and over and over and over again.

The music selections are just as extreme, from rudimentary synth chords to the aforementioned guitar piece, and a thoroughly idiotic vocal track (“The Taste, Taste, Taste, Taste, Taste of Your Sperm!” goes the singular lyrics) heard as Romay licks porn magazines for her cheering club audience.

Like their Cries Blu-ray, Severin adds extras that help contextualize the film’s placement within his prolific years in which he made 16 films produced and released within 5 years. (NOOS, shot back-to-back with Macumba Sexual was actually filmed in 1981, and was one of 8 films Franco made that year.)

Thrower provides a second installment in his delightful “In the Land of Franco,” covering locations in beautiful Portugal, and details the minutia of this production, and Franco’s other three pokes at the Poe story which include the completed but still unreleased The Golden Scarab (1979, and the kid-friendly En busca del dragón dorado (1983).

A second extract from Donald Farmer’s Q&A with Franco and Romay, “When Donald Met Jess & Lina,” has Romay smoking silently in the rear while Franco discusses his use of pseudonyms, Jesus Franco vs. Jess Franco, on being prolific (the director estimates having made up to 160 films at the time of the interview), and budgets.

The Q&A is also a bit ironic: Jungle of Fear, the film the couple were shooting in 1993, was Franco’s fourth attempt at the Poe tale, and is similarly unreleased, due to an incomplete soundtrack.

As much as Franco’s late 60s and early 70s work has earned the attention and accolades of fans, the period represented here is arguably more interesting because each weird little movie forms a chapter in Franco and Romay’s vast filmography, and represents the last intriguing fling at filmmaking on shoestring budgets were they could (and did) make whatever they wanted (sometimes in striking 2.35:1 ‘scope) which, according to Thrower, was shooting & completing a film within roughly a week!

That freedom of weirdly concocted tales, the shared continuity of his revolving stock company (Mayans played the sadistic libertine in Cries and appeared in the unreleased The Golden Scarab), plus unique locations, eclectic music, and Jess sometimes handling cinematography (in NOOS he’s billed as Joan Almirall) and co-composing duties with Daniel White  (here billed collectively as one Pablo Villa) ultimately puts one into the mindset of its maker who was never satisfied sitting still at home, and was already looking forward to the next production during the filming and / or post=production of others.



© 2020 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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