The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968):
Jesus Franco likes to see girls in chains and excuses it again by having a female prison warden so he doesn’t come across as a creepy leering misogynist. Also, Christopher Lee plays the most deadpan villain next to HAL-9000, accept funnier.
Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee) wants to gain world domination by killing his rival world leaders. He does this by poisoning 10 poison-immune seductresses, and getting them to kiss the world leaders so that they die.
I want Christopher Lee’s moustache. Seriously. It’s just so beautiful and it gives him a demented-wizard quality, a quality so underrated in cinema nowadays. Either way, Christopher Lee’s charming deadpan performance in this film is the only decent thing about it next to the film’s potentially humorously camp concept. It is a film where characters are killed by being kissed, and after being kissed there is a moment where they shudder, wail, scream, cover their eyes and then fall on the floor idiotically in the same style as a seal collapsing after attempting to ice-skate. These moments are pricelessly trashy, and that is what is so effective about them. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t recognise that these moments have a ‘so bad its good’ quality to them, and instead flops around on the floor whilst we watch its numerous plot strands fall apart and crumble before our eyes.
It’s by Jesus Franco, and this is the second film of his I have seen in the horror-fest. Like 99 Women, it is quite creepy in its treatment of women, the seductresses are chained up, some chained to walls, some chained to the ceiling so that they are hanging mid-air. They are whipped and slapped around the face. These scenes are meant to be sexy and tantalising in a subversive kind of way; I’ll leave you to form an opinion.
Either way, the main flaw with the film is its numerous plot strands which do link up but don’t feel as if they’ve been glued properly together. There’s the plot about the ten seductresses killing the world leaders, the plot concerning an archaeologist escaping from the grasp of a powerful man, the plot of the British Prime-minister attempting to find an antidote, the plot of a group of rugged men looking for a lost city. The film has numerous characters and no main characters, there is nothing wrong with this, but because the film has to jump from one character to the next. Due to this, I didn’t develop any attachment for any of the characters to the extent that I became increasingly aware throughout that I was watching a film. Also, if the only humorous and entertaining moment in this film (next to Christopher Lee’s performance and facial hair) is when the girls give the world leaders ‘the kiss of death’, surely more world leaders should be kissed?