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I had a great time watching Femina Ridens a couple of mornings back, somewhat hungover. For most of the film its pretty much a two hander, showing the games and weird relationship of crazy doctor Philipe Leroy and stunning Dagmar Lassander. I'd seen her before in a couple of Fulci films dying gruesome deaths, but here she is young hip and beautiful. The film is pretty predictable and certainly mild on the exploitation front, but entertaining throughout owing too its marvellous colourful kitsch feel. The set design, music, lighting and cinematography are all classic late sixties Italian style, a surreal feast for the eyes and ears and though the general thread of the plot is not too difficult to foresee there are more than enough unusual events and memorably bizarre sights and sounds to keep things interesting throughout. Both leads are pretty good, and it bears repeating that Dagmar Lassander is really, really fine. The music, by Stelvo Cipriani is gnarly too, perfectly suited to the images. Director Pierro Schivazappa has come up with quite a cracker here, but its not perfect. Though very alluring, there's little substance here and the exploitation elements are about as mild as can be. I guess this gives it a sort of charm and innocence but I can't help thinking that the subject matter could have done with more sleaze, more threat, that sorta thing, especially since its pretty simple to figure whats going to happen. This is I suspect a bit pointless for stronger exploitation fans and certainly not for people wanting sex or much nudity. Its more of a light, fun pop art affair, lovable but insubstantial, like bubble bath. Recommended mainly for those fond of the 60's, Dagmar Lassander, or sweet set designs.
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