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"Voodoo Passion" is another terrific Jess Franco film, which, not
surprisingly, will probably be enjoyed mostly by Franco fans. He remade
the film in 1982 as "Mil Sexos Tiene La Noche", and he had previously
filmed the story in the early 1970's as "Nightmares Come at Night", so
anyone familiar with these other two films will find that "Voodoo
Passion" holds little surprises in terms of plot. What sets this
version apart from the other films is the overblown sexiness and
lustfulness that flows throughout, much to the credit of the female
cast members. Ada Tauler, as the innocent bride subjected to recurring
nightmares, plays her role as victim quite well despite the fact that
she is visually a sex bomb. Karine Gambier, on hand as Tauler's
nymphomanicial sister-in-law, exaggerates her libidinous performance to
great effect; her character is fun and frothy, but this does not mean
Gambier falls short in the acting department. Vicky Adams struts her
stuff in several nude dance/voodoo ritual ceremony scenes, usually set
to jazz music, and these scenes are quite extended, Franco style, but
are never boring and, of course, they are highly erotic and
fetishistic. Aida Vargas literally pops in and out so briefly she
doesn't even have time to undress. Jack Taylor, one of the few male
cast members, is on hand in his sleazy bad-guy role, a very similar
role to the one he had in the simultaneously-filmed Franco film
"Swedish Nympho Slaves", aka "Sexy Sisters."
The DVD transfer is beautiful and letter boxed, so Franco fans can enjoy another masterpiece of trash cinema from one of the best in the business.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
During a pointless opening scene, a British narrator denies ties
between voodoo and Satanism while we get to see a partially-clothed
Haitian dance on a beach accompanied by a flute player and bongo drums.
And so begins another Franco sexploiter for Swiss producer Erwin C.
Dietrich. This was one of many sex films of the 70s set on a Caribbean
island featuring voodoo as a flimsy plot device to link together a
bunch of sex / nude scenes. One of the first of this type was Osvaldo
Civirani's VOODOO SEXY (1975), while the most famous of these are
probably the ones made by Joe D'Amato in the Dominican Republic like
PAPAYA: LOVE GODDESS OF THE CANNIBALS (1978) and SEX AND BLACK MAGIC
(1980). As was the case with most of these, the sex was filmed soft but
the full frontal nudity was so explicit and rampant the films were
never released in the U.S. during the whole 80s / 90s VHS era. And the
ones that did often had hardcore insert shots spliced in later simply
so they could be sold off as XXX porn.
VOODOO PASSION (or "Call of the Blonde Goddess") starts with a middle aged woman named Susan Haus (Ada Tauler) arriving in Haiti to meet up with her husband Jack (Jack Taylor), a British consul living there she hasn't seen in quite some time and doesn't even know very well. Susan's picked up at the harbor by a bizarre-acting Inès ("Vicky Adams" / Nanda Van Bergen), who works as a secretary at her husband's home. She then meets the even stranger Olga (French porn actress Karine Gambier), an extremely nosy platinum blonde nymphomaniac who claims to be Jack's sister and won't stop inquiring about their sex life. Olga lounges around in the nude and has lots of creepy things to say about her relationship with her special sibling like "He likes me to come sleep with him. I'm his baby doll. I always cuddle up to him for protection but I promise nothing happens between us." Well, THAT'S reassuring!
Not long after arriving, Susan begins to suspect she's the victim of a voodoo curse. She has numerous long nightmares where she joins in on voodoo rituals, watches a rhythm-deficient tribe do some REALLY awful nude dancing, has chicken blood dribbled all over her body, sees her husband screwing his sister, goes to her husband's colleague to seduce and then murder him and then joins another couple in bed, killing them as well. The star of many of these dreams is the housekeeper, who stashes a voodoo doll in the house and leads all the dances, but is she also the one causing Susan's horrific hallucinations / hypnotizing her to kill? While all that's going on, the slutty Olga pleasures herself with a wine bottle while listening to her brother and Susan and keeps trying to seduce her sister-in-law ("There's only one thing I don't know... have you ever had sex with a woman?")
I watched this back-to-back with Franco's SATANIC SISTERS (1977) and, truth be told, enjoyed that one a LOT more because it had a better plot, some amusing dialogue and a sense of humor to go along with the nearly non-stop nude scenes. This one on the other hand takes itself completely seriously and just comes off as dull in the process. The paper thin plot is uninteresting, slow-moving and barely enough to even string together all of the sex scenes and both the direction, with constant closeups of eyeballs and an almost clinical and detached eye for shooting female anatomy, and editing are pretty terrible. Despite the setting and lots of generic stock footage of some Caribbean island, this was actually filmed in Zurich so it doesn't get any extra points for travelogue footage either. A ridiculous unexpected twist is thrown out at the very end but even that's not enough to pump any life into this snoozer.
The only real positives are several very attractive actresses cavorting around nude nearly the entire time. Gambier, who's a delight even in something like this, and Van Bergen, who has very piercing hazel eyes to go along with her great body, are both worth a look... just make sure you have the fast-forward button handy for all the rest.
Since 'Voodoo Passion' (or 'Call of the blond goddess', that is the
original title, literally translated) is regarded by many Franco
experts as one of his lesser works from the 1970s, I didn't exactly
rush to get the DVD, but when I finally did, it turned out to be much
better than many say. I don't know how anyone can prefer a bungled work
like 'Nightmares Come At Night' over this surprisingly round work of
art. The movie lives very much from the music, maybe that is an
underestimated factor. Turn up the sound, it helps a lot. Jess Franco,
apart from being a director, also had a passion for jazz music, and he
used jazz combined with voodoo drums to create obsessive intensity
here. In the middle of the movie, the music suddenly stops for a while
(when Susan tells Jack how scared she is), and the scary silence makes
you aware how much everything was in a musical flow before, driving on
and on through the dances and rituals.
The story as usual can be told in 5 lines: Susan (Ada Tauler) comes to an island (the tag line says it's Haiti) to marry Jack House (Franco regular Jack Taylor). A woman he introduces as his sister Olga (Karine Gambier) turns out to be his lover, so much for a normal marriage. Susan has nightmares of herself killing people under the influence of voodoo, and the housekeeper Ines (Vicky Adams) seems to have something to do with it. A conspiracy against Susan has begun... Debutante Vicky Adams plays the priestess with mesmerizing charm, stealing the show every time the camera catches her, thus she well deserved to become the first listed in the cast, although her role is smaller than those of Susan and Olga.
Voodoo Passion (1977)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
Jess Franco film about a woman who goes to visit her husband in Haiti and soon discovers another woman living in the house who claims to be her husband's nympho sister. The wife buys the story but soon she begins to be haunted by dreams of voodoo and a mysterious woman coming to warn her. Ada Tauler, Jack Taylor, Vicky Adams and Karine Gambier star in this film, which is a remake of Franco's 1970 film Nightmares Come at Night, which wasn't the best film in the director's career but it's certainly better than this. The biggest difference between the two is that the original went for more of a psychological style while this one here is nothing but non-stop sex scenes, which grow quite boring after a while. There's some beautiful locations, a nice music score and great sets but that's about the only thing this film has going for it. There is one hot lesbian scenes and some really bad dialogue, which gets some laughs but you'll do better searching out other parts of Franco's career.
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