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Un épais manteau de sang (1967)

| Drama
Sorenson uses diamond robbery money to buy clinic in Corsica. His accomplice Dyonis has disappeared. Sorenson takes Dyonis' wife Valerie as mistress. Valerie takes coral fisherman Bernard ... See full summary »

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Valérie Lagrange ...
Valerie
...
Dyonis
Katia Bartell ...
Katia
Eric Arval ...
Bernard
Hans Meyer ...
Sorenson
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Sorenson uses diamond robbery money to buy clinic in Corsica. His accomplice Dyonis has disappeared. Sorenson takes Dyonis' wife Valerie as mistress. Valerie takes coral fisherman Bernard as lover. Dyonis appears, Sorenson hopes Dyonis will kill Bernard. Bernard becomes lover of Sorenson's wife Katia. Bernard is found murdered, Valerie blames Sorenson, who tries to escape with his robbery fortune. He is pursued by Dyonis, who kills him. Dyonis is caught by police at airport. Katia drowns herself in the sea. Written by HappyJeen

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FLESH AND FANTASY (Jose' Benazeraf, 1967) **
21 August 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I first heard the name of director Benazeraf in the featurette accompanying Michel Lemoine's SEVEN WOMEN FOR Satan (1974) on that film's Mondo Macabro DVD; his output, orientated towards Erotica, seemed to be in the vein of the work of Spanish exploitationer par excellence Jess Franco (with whom Lemoine also collaborated as an actor) – and, for this reason, I became interested in checking him out. Incidentally, looking at his filmography on IMDb, I noticed that one of his efforts bears the dubious moniker VOIR MALTE ET MOURIR (1974) i.e. SEE MALTA AND DIE!; personally, I find a lot of truth in that title…but surely not for the same reasons that Benazeraf intended!

Anyway, some months back, the film under review turned up on late-night Italian TV (thankfully, constantly proving itself a fount of obscure "Euro-Cult" outings which seem to have fallen through the cracks of time) and, naturally, I opted to give it a look. Well, it turned out not to be all that worthwhile – though, of course, I can't pass judgment on the director's skill solely by this one picture (God knows the prolific Franco is the working definition of the term "erratic"!). The plot would best be described as a pseudo-thriller (with, obviously, erotic undertones – still, despite being given the alternate title of THE SUBJECT IS SEX, it's all rather chaste…but, then, the movie does feel choppy throughout, since it runs a very meager 76 minutes!): a trio of soldiers are sent in the Congo with a mission to eliminate some eminent physician; one of them is caught and imprisoned, while the others return home to France. Another is himself a medical specialist and harbors ambitions to own a private clinic; besides, he seems unusually possessive of the absent companion's sultry wife (Valerie Lagrange with hair bleached platinum blonde) – despite having married the attractive nurse who assists him.

The rot sets in when Lagrange falls hard for a young seafaring lad; the doctor, who had demonstrated a vicious streak even in the Congo, determines to put a stop to the relationship. Ironically, he sees a way out when Lagrange's husband turns up – having escaped detention; needless to say, the latter's disillusioned by what he learns about his wife (the hero's former pal even readily admits his own affair!). Another complication arises when it transpires that Lagrange's husband and the doctor's wife had themselves been lovers at one time: considering how both are being treated by their respective spouses, it's small wonder that the two are drawn together anew. In any case, Lagrange's new lover soon ends up dead (though not at the hands of the hero) and she confronts the doctor – who has no choice but to kill her as well! Her husband, then, is duty-bound to avenge her (bafflingly, the two barely exchange a look from the time of his return!) and has to flee the country…but history repeats itself, and the man's once again arrested at the airport (the culprit, this time around being none other than the doctor's wife – who, in this way, inherits both his clinic and the rest of the fortune the soldiers had amassed in the Congo!).

However, such ironic touches are few and far between: much of the first half is devoted to Lagrange's dreary romantic interludes and the even less enthusing pool-side antics of her 'crowd' (later on, we're treated to a gratuitous and energetic dance-floor routine from the girl which is the film's undeniable highlight of unintended hilarity!); that said, even in those passages where it's meant to be suspenseful, the thing comes across as mechanical – thus providing all-round tedium! One thing I should mention is that, just as the score for the recently-viewed YOUR TURN TO DIE (1967) was partly borrowed from another film, the music heard during a sequence towards the middle of this one would turn up as the main theme of the Spaghetti Western DEATH SENTENCE (1968): the thing is that, while Gianni Ferrio was the composer on the latter, there's no such credit on Benazeraf's picture (then again, odder things have happened with respect to soundtracks – suffice it to say that Stanley Myers' celebrated piece "Cavatina", now inextricably linked with the Oscar-winning THE DEER HUNTER [1978], had actually been composed for the very minor and little-known THE WALKING STICK [1970]!)...


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