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But for every admirer, there is someone who's felt hornswaggled by Franco's foul output. While his movies from the 60s and 70s have a certain feel and freshness to them, his late 90s/postmillennial output has been nothing short of nominal. In fact, many would argue this portion of his canon contains some of the worst movies ever made. Still, with so many enthusiasts out there, ready to spend their cash on new Franco DVDs, the companies keep cranking out the crap.
Red Silk is such an example. This supposedly erotic comedy/mystery wants to portray the lewd and luscious adventures of a couple of sexy private eyes. But what we get instead is an incomprehensible homemade movie starring a couple of creepy, not comely, lasses that never once makes a lick of sense. By the time this patience tester is over, you'll wonder if Franco ever had any talent to begin with. Nothing in this nonsense would prove otherwise.
Gina and Tina are two whores who run Red Silk, a sex for hire service for a supposedly exclusive clientele – though why anyone would want these gnarled up wenches is anyone's guess. During a typical day of lying around the pool, airing out their stink bombs, the women recall one of their most memorable clients. Grunevaldi, who greeted the gals in the nude, offers them a simple little job (on top of the Sappho stuff they were originally rented to do). They are to take a package – which ends up looking like a collection of garbage – across the border to another location. If they are successful, they will make some extra dough. Well, the ladies get curious, open up the junk pile, and discover a rare painting. Apparently, Gina and Tina are going to smuggle art for their flesh financer. The chewed up chicks call a cop friend, they set up the thief, and an international incident is avoided.
In the meanwhile, a deposed banana republic leader is plotting his revenge. He keeps his wife beaten and tied up in a small room in his house. A crooked cop finds out some dirt on the dictator, and hires the heffalump honeys to do his bold blackmailing. But they decide to turn the tables on the bad lieutenant, and rob the diabolical despot at the same time. With a single toy gun blazing and their own hideous visages as possible weapons, they make a great getaway. But wouldn't you know it – they're now so caught up in being millionaires that they crash their car and die...or so we think. No, it turns out that all this espionage is just another water-based daydream, a means of escape for a couple of STD ridden skanks.
Here's a good name for what Jess Franco's fecal Red Silk is – Red Shit! This is one atrocious film, so devoid of anything remotely related to cinema or entertainment that the individual responsible for giving that overrated exploitation has-been the greenlight to make this miserable excuse for a movie should be shot on sight. Like enduring one of your uncle's worst home movies, except this time, he's showing you the scenes that he actually edited out, this asexual romps rates so low on the professionalism scale that it would take an electron microscope to register the value. Sub Rosa Studios, who should actually know better, is trying to sell this swill as a hilarious, bawdy farce, with a "bevy of bodacious babes" supposedly ventilating their unmentionables for your pleasure. Well, the only comedy here is the "of errors" kind, since this entire project is a gaffe, from its camcorder crappy cinematics to its horribly hacked up attempt at narrative. Watching this film is a lot like going to a seedy strip club, only to learn that it's open pole amateur's night and the AARP is in town.
In order to understand this steaming pile of homegrown horse hockey, you first have to get the premise straight. According to the packaging, Red Silk is the name of a low budget private detective agency. Um, okay...so how, exactly, does that explain the pork for profit angle that our two sleazy slags indulge in? If they are getting paid to investigate crimes, then why are they lezing out in a slutty softcore style for anyone with a couple of Kroners? And do real PI's actually perform live lesbian shows in the middle of a hotel lobby for half-potted patrons who seem intensely tickled by their dildo stand-up routine? No, it is pretty clear that Red Silk is concerned with a couple of over the hill hose bags who stumble into a combine of crimes, only to use their incredibly fleshy forms, as well as an oversized pop gun, to crack the case. In essence, you could call these grotesque gal pals the Eurotrash Snoop Sisters, but that would be insulting both a continent and the rotting corpse of Helen Hayes.
So now that we know the clear carnal parameters of our product, lets dispense with the pleasantries and go right for the critical throat. Our first target is so-called "legendary genre veteran" Lina Romay, essaying the role of rotund reprobate Gina. Approximately 55 when this movie was shot – and that's being kind to her corpulent, malformed frame – this walking pile of puffiness resembles your maiden aunt going through a third childhood as a sperm bank. When she drops trou and blou, all bets are off, as the various and sundry snacks that she's consumed over the years make their cameo appearances across her ass, thighs and belly. This doughy dame is about as erotic as a meat mole – which she does resemble, although that would be offensive to skin occlusions – so naturally we see her in all manner of poorly shot shark footage. Smiling with a facial expression that suggests dementia mixed with menopause, this is one haggard old whore.
Her partner in panting, Christie Levin, is equally non-erotic. Resembling a Ban De Soleil babe gone to seed, and hampered with a hairstyle that makes 50s greasers jealous, our Tina loves to play lap dog to Romay's geriatric Gina. When these two get together, they redefine the term "bumping uglies". They have one major sex scene in particular where they play penis with each other's tongues, sucking them with non-erotic abandon. And let's not even discuss the time they go funky on a faux phallus. Ms. Levin is at least within the target demographic of the average porn purveyor, so there may be a few viewers who are intrigued by her sullied St. Tropez tan lines. But she's also as dumb as a bowl of onion dip, and twice as tart. Between her and Romay, there's not a complete brain cell between them. Indeed, in the long history of same sex coupling, the redolent pairing of Gina with Tina makes Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas look like the Barbie Twins.
But the lack of fetching physical attributes is the least of Red Silk's shame. This may be the first movie ever dubbed into pigeon English. Originally filmed in Spanish – or it could be Martian, or Klingon for all we know – and then rerecorded by voice actors who make comprehension their tertiary speech choice, the dialogue is absolutely unfathomable. If you listen carefully, you just may hear Franco himself performing the dull lines of that hairy dufus art thief Grunevaldi. Of course, anyone who's heard the director speak for himself on numerous DVD commentaries and interviews understands that ole Jess is about as adept at the Queen's lexicon as he is at making coherent masterpieces. As a result, it is nearly impossible to figure out what is going on in this film. We pick up plot pieces here and there – the gals are selling their cracked coot...they know a cop who can help them catch crooks...they want lots of money...someone has bed sores – but mostly, we are in the dark about all the devious goings on. Not that it would matter if we were completely clued in. Franco fumbles the ball here so many times, in so many different ways, that it's impossible to count the instances of incongruity or atrophy.
Indeed, Red Silk is like one big flaccidity producer. From its grandma's in heat dynamic to the perplexing nature of the narrative, there is not a soul on this planet who will cotton to this crap. As a matter of fact, if you have friends or loved ones who proclaim their love for this lamentable offal, it might be time to reconsider who you spend your time with. It cannot be enjoyed as campy fun, arousing erotica, funny and kicky kitsch or cruel cautionary example. In some ways, the only thing this film would be good for is proving that there is such a thing as a cinematic version of the Chinese Water Torture – with flabby old ladies as the liquid. There are some who would defend Jess Franco as an underrated auteur when it comes to weird-ass European skin and fright flicks. But the only thing Red Silk will convince you of is the man's rapidly progressing senility. No one with a single cognitive thought in their head would purposefully make this kind of mise-en-mess. Franco's facilities are either failing, or he owes someone a great deal of money. There is no other rationale for this horrifying humpathon. Red Silk sucks like a hillbilly prostitute with advanced orthodonture issues.
Nothing can begin to describe how horribly cable access this movie looks. Captured on what looks like a 9th generation Sears camcorder, and lacking even the most basic tenets of professional production, this incredibly crappy transfer matches the misery of the movie perfectly. The 1.33:1 full frame image constantly flares, solarizes in the outdoor scenes, fails to provide any consistent contrasts, and when it does offer details, lets us in on things we never wanted to see on screen (like Christie's nasty nose hairs or Romay's random stretch marks). Franco's framing is abysmal, there are compositions that recall the worst of amateur moviemaking, and the overall impression is one of cheaply made junk tossed haphazardly onto vile videotape.
Equally as awful as the visuals, the soundtrack is a shambles. The Dolby Digital Stereo is distorted, muffled and poorly mixed. All the bad accents and screeching conversation meld into a cacophony of corruption. Most of the time, the dialogue is incoherent. Other times, all we hear is Franco's own miserable musical score, which sounds like something a band would play at the dedication of a mass grave. In combination, you get an aural offering that cures your desire to hear anything ever again in your entire life.
Red Silk saves us from further entertainment embarrassment by keeping the bonus features painlessly brief. Along with some trailers for other Sub Rosa Studios product, there is a 22 minute "preview" of Jess Franco's Snakewoman film. The most that can be said about this production is that, even in a small dose, it's a dozen times better than the actual feature.
Again, Jess Franco fans are probably foaming at the mouth over this review. They can't imagine how anyone could dismiss this master outright, or rag on the fact that, at approximately 176 years of age, he is still making movies. Well, the sad fact is that Red Silk is just plain horrible. There is no humor here, very little titillation, and a narrative more muddled than both Mission: Impossible and Eraserhead combined. If you love Franco's softcore shenanigans, or find everything he does an apple of sexual gold, then you'll probably find the nugget of fun in this foul little flop. But individuals hoping for a transcendent, trashy time will only discover the compost aspect of said sentiment. There are a lot of repulsive sights in this world – an autopsy, Kelly Osbourne's fat backside, an octogenarian nudist – but none can match the miserable sight of Lina Romay and Christie Levin sharing spit. And since that's the only lucid item that can be deciphered from this dung, you're in for one despicable experience. Red Silk is an awful movie.
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