French Sex Murders (1972)
By: Michael Helms on October 17, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Mondo Macabro (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English 1.0. English Subtitles. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: F.L.Morris
Starring: Anita Ekberg, Robert Sacchi, Howard Vernon, Barbara Bouchet, Evelyn Kraft, Rosalba Neri
Screenplay: Marius Mattei, Ferdinando Merichi, Robert Oliver
Country: Italy/Germany
A poorly animated body falls from the Eiffel Tower as an amazing opening cast list attempts to blind you to any technical deficiencies. A supergroovy bass driven score then fires up as Anita Ekberg, Howard Vernon, Barabara Bouchet, Gordon Mitchell, Evelyn Kraft and Rosalba Neri, are all named before we focus in on Robert Sacchi, professional Bogart impersonator, gun detective, and casual narrator of the French Sex Murders. "It all started last night...", he casually observes. So begins French Sex Murders in a mixture of confusion and cheesy effects that truly sets the tone for what is to come.

Next we go back to the night before as Antoine crashes a party and is soon in a bedroom flashing a set of gems while pulling out his own family jewels to service the girl he's just picked up. When she's called away Antoine is far from happy but with one hand on the blanket that's covering his crotch he manages to beat her to death before leaving post haste. He bumps into a cop on the way out. Meanwhile a guest (known as Mr. Randall) who has been pontificating on his book on one Madame Colette, finds the body. Hooded customers/partygoers are asked to leave as Bogie is called in to investigate and is slapping cuffs on Antoine in no time.

Cut to Howard Vernon giving autopsy tips at a dinner party. Back to Antoine who everyone seemingly wants dead, who escapes custody with the aid of a motorbike. He jumps a roadblock and runs down a cop but to no avail as he gets decapitated by a truck. Bogie is conducting investigations down on nightclub street while Howard Vernon asserts he'd like Antoine's decapitated head. A judge drops by to chat with Vernon. Guitar spy music with discordant keyboards is playing when a blonde in a beach buggy turns up wanting to tell Vernon, her father, about the relationship she's having with his assistant. Vernon conducts a gory eyeball examination and declares genetic schizophrenia. The judge has his neck slit. Vernon, Bogie and Randall get together to mull over the events. Bogie wants Randall to go down to the cop shop to clear up matters. Bogie finds another nude dead girl before then. Another decapitation occurs and when Randall finds the head he's stabbed. The daughter finds both bodies and is stabbed herself for her troubles. Howard Vernon is eventually brought undone but not before he goes on the run which elliptically and neatly brings us back to the very beginning.
Sporting a rough veneer (especially obvious during location work) undoubtedly this film has never looked better, but don't go in expecting rampant slickness.
With dialogue driving this twisted giallo from beginning to end it's necessary that it remains audible which it does. Narration seems to be thrown in at random but comes through loud and clear and so to does the great swinging score from Bruno Nicolai that appears all too infrequently in the mix.
Extra Features
Amidst a generous serving of extras, the standout entry is the 32 minute doco The Wild, Wild World Of Dick Randall. Besides his own documentation of his work (see the Living Doll extras) this is the first serious attempt to capture the awesome and tangled legacy of Dick Randall and give it some perspective. Interviewees include David McGillivray, director Alan Birkinshaw, Julian Grainger, and Corliss Randall, Dick's former life partner. Clips shown include Challenge Of The Tiger, Clones Of Bruce Lee, Don't Open 'Till Christmas, and For Your Height Only. Besides the inclusion of two deleted/alternate scenes the stills gallery also has a nice shot of Randall on set with Weng Weng.
The Verdict
Sometimes hokey and unnecessarily complex French Sex Murders is less a cogent thriller and more of an excuse to picture the crazy eyeball fetish of Howard Vernon's character and the early work of effects maestro Professor Carlo Rambaldi. A definite Eurosleaze classic.
Movie Score
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