The Lady Kills [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Mondo Macabro
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (29th September 2020).
The Film

Mondo Macabro seems extraordinarily proud of this cinematic find, bragging that the films have been “remastered, restored and available for the first time on home video anywhere in the world” but before you cough up your hard-earned cash, buyer beware! Perhaps they were better off being lost, but now you can witness the strange vision of director Jean-Louis van Belle. Back in the 70’s, art house films flooded the market because it was an easy way to give the audience an eyeful of the female form. Both of these films are proof of that statement as they literally offer the starlets any opportunity to doff their duds and parade about in the nude. In "The Lady Kills", we begin the film with a badly staged gang rape scene where four nameless men grope at a woman and rip her clothes off. Hiding behind a curtain, a teenage girl is witness to this tragedy Accompanying this scene is some hip music that appears to have nothing to do with the on-screen action. Saxophones wail, the woman screams with a close up of her open mouth, more grappling occurs. The men all head-butt the camera hence mimicking a coitus like rhythm. Next, we see the cast in black and white stills accompanied by their names. Cut to a negative camera image of three women and a dance instructor practicing some lifeless choreography to a nightclub act. The women all look similar: blonde wigs, oversize sunglasses, and a large belt like apparatus worn around their waists. Again, we get some Euro soundtrack blasted at us, some French song that again does not appear to be in synch with the dance moves. Cut to a POV shot of someone peeping through a fence at a nightclub where the guests are leaving. A title card has announced that this is Dusseldorf. We see a taxi pull up and a man announces that the driver is to take these visitors away and never bring them back. The man in charge is a smug individual and he walks away with a woman on his arm. The camera follows in a POV shot as the two huddle in a doorway, We hear a loud pistol shot and the man’s face fills the screen in a close up and he is shot once again. The woman screams and then cut.

A woman, (Carole Lebel) is luxuriating in a hot bath and there are plenty of suds in the water. Close ups a plenty as the camera gives her the once over twice. Next, we see her getting dressed to a flute accompaniment on the soundtrack. The music appears to be randomly selected as if merely playing on a jukebox or a record. The plot at this time is nonexistent. We have no idea who the woman is nor what her purpose is. Shots of a taxi meter running and apparently, we are now in France. The woman requests that she be dropped off at a night club that is named "Le Sexy". The music continues to skip about: guitar with reverb, some drumming. Cut back to the dress rehearsal with the three women and a clothesline that is strung across the stage. The talent director has a vision and he keeps making the women rehearse. Cue the strobe lights. The screen goes momentarily black as the women are in the dark. A woman smoking a cigarette plays the soundtrack on a reel to reel player in her lap. Cut to our heroine as she introduces herself to the talent director and he takes her to his office. He complains bitterly and then states, “I’ve made stars of all those who enter this room.” The director is a braggart and then we finally get the woman’s name: Françoise Frémont, 22. Apparently, she is looking for her big break. The director asks her is she is obedient. she states that she dreams of being queen of Paris' nightlife and that she is completely subservient. She enquires if he has friends in St-Germain and he responds that he hasn’t been there in ten years. I believe that this is a subtle clue as to the plot. He says that he will name her Pevertissima. While taking a call he commands that the woman strip nude and he ogles her figure. He leaves and she plants a time bomb in the office. The scowling talent scout asks the woman if she will allow him to take her to dinner and she agrees. So far, the soundtrack is the only thing that is interesting as it constantly changes from twangy guitar to flute solo.

Leaving the club, we follow as the woman to a lingerie store where she asks to see some samples. There is another blow hard man there who tries to impress the woman as he watches her try on the samples; she undresses without closing the dressing room door and he eyeballs her form from a far. We can hear his thoughts as he leers because the director has us being privy to his thoughts. The woman wants to make a purchase, but the store owner tells her that they don’t accept checks. She is upset and tells the owner that she is in a jam because she needs to get to London tomorrow and how is she going to manage that? The leering salesman comes to her rescue and offers her a free ride on his company’s private plane. The woman introduces herself to the forthcoming hero and she uses a completely different identity than she used previously. By this time, it is fairly obvious what the plot is, but the sake of this review we will painfully endure the rest of the film.

The man gives her his card and makes a date for later that night at 7:30. Now astute viewers will notice that this date is in direct conflict with her earlier scheduled date, but this is the way it plays out. More footage of our heroine prancing about in the nude as we cut to the salesman’s hotel room. The man is in his underwear and is apparently taking a nap as he asks the woman whether or not she minded that they did not have sex? She shrugs indifferently and brushes her hair. Lots of close ups of her eyes and the face of a clock follows. Cut to the belligerent talent scout as he has a fit on the phone because the model has stood him up. The woman stares off into the distance like she is in a trance and then we hear a sort of muffled explosion. The woman and her accomplish are back in the plane and now we find ourselves in London. The salesman attempts to make out with the woman, but she does not respond; they both nod off and fall asleep.

Cut to the woman entering a restaurant and we hear her thinking as she peruses a photography magazine. She finds an ad advertising for live nude models and that apparently is what she has been looking for. A man named John is mentioned and that he had an interest in such things. Cut to a line up of naked women’s behinds as they are speedily interviewed by a corrupt looking man sporting a ridiculous looking overgrown moustache. The man eyes the women and tells them a time. Back in the day this was another way for men to experience the thrill of seeing a woman nude: amateur photography clubs. Lots of close ups of breasts as the camera peers at the women like they were cuts of meat in a butcher shop. Of course, our heroine is amongst the participants and she is selected to be a model for a bunch of rubber necking photogs. The woman recognizes one man in particular and she volunteers to be his model. The man is sending off major creep vibes, so this is one of the offenders that she is seeking. The woman enters an odd-looking house where various undressed women lay about and he warns her that she will be handled roughly but the money will make it worth her wild. The creepy dude takes her to the studio where she is bound with ropes and then whipped by other decadent looking participants. The entire thing is completely unexciting and feels utterly fake. The saxophone starts to wail, and the main man listens on headphones as the woman clings to the wall and moans while the others act like they are inflicting serious harm. The man writes her a check for services rendered and then they enter a darkroom to see the film developed. The man tells her the trays are filled with acid and that he wouldn’t want to cause the death if such a beauty. “Nothing is lost. Nothing is created, Everything is transformed.” The photographer blathers on until the woman can’t take anymore, and she pushes his head into a tray of sulphuric acid. Cut to the woman hitchhiking on a highway. Another smooth operator picks her up and he tries the old car trouble ruse. The woman is too smart for him and she steals his car and drives away. A worthless policeman stops her and tells her that she needs to clean the windows on the car. Are all the men complete lunkheads in this film?

She suddenly finds herself a boat complete with scuba men. She tells the men that she knows the owner of the boat and names him, but she is informed that the man died in a diving accident two months ago. “Do you like the sea?” a man asks her. “When it is angry” she replies. This is the depth of the dialogue in the film. The men inform her that they are setting sail for Naples. She tears up a black and white photograph and tosses it overboard. Immediately she starts flirting with one of the men and then an abrupt cut to a train on a track headed somewhere. Next stop is Rome.

A woman wearing a large floppy hat passes out in the dressing room of a fashion show. It is a different woman that previously but then we are shown her sitting in the audience. The woman sets up a date with the man that runs the fashion establishment; it seems that no man can refuse her, no matter how sharp her comments are. She enquires about obtaining a dress that would be especially designed for her alone. The man agrees. Another disrobing scene ensues, and she is measured for the dress. During small talk, the man is fatally stabbed with a large pair of scissors. Cut to a shot of trains racing away. The woman is now posing as a reporter from a paper and she is interviewing a race car driver. They make a date for later on. Cut to a bowling alley. The woman is there looking bored. The driver calls her on the phone and informs her that he is held up and can’t make it; she will have to come to his hotel room. It is implied that they have had sex, but the woman still has that bored expression on her face. The driver mentions that when he was in St-Germain that there was a woman there intimidated him. The woman asks why but receives no answer. The driver leaves the room and then comes back with a loud blonde in his arms and he tosses her on the bed. Apparently one woman is not enough for him. As the driver strips the laughing blonde, the woman lays there, unmoved, emotionally unavailable.

The next day the two of them approach a garage and the driver backs out his race car. He takes it for a quick lap around the track and then it is the woman’s turn. The woman is experiencing flash backs of the rape scene and she purposely runs the driver over and crashes the car. Cut to a newspaper that is reporting on the deaths of the various men. The slickster who earlier had his car stolen is reflecting on his friends who gang raped a woman to “teach her a lesson.” The man continues on his way and he is a shopkeeper. He kisses his wife and two children. He thinks to himself about the crime and brushes it aside. What good would honesty do after all this time? This was the longest 82 minutes of my life!

As an added bonus, the film "Pevertissma" (1972) is included on this disc. And it is with a heavy heart I select this next film; my hopes aren’t extremely high, and I am sure that I won’t be surprised. The description on the box promises “a combination of mondo movie and mad scientist flick.” This film way too closely resembles the other film that preceded it and that does not bode well.

Once again, we are subjected to a camera negative exposure as the credits roll. We are shown various women in stages of undress and some bathtub footage. A singer warbles in French on the soundtrack. Again we witness a roll call of models for a sketchy job assignment; this time for a reporter (Maelle Pertuzo) to write an article on “love in Paris,” Our leading lady is given a camera and a file and is instructed to visit a place called the “love club” and to get the scoop. The boss is an amorous sleaze and he insists on giving the reporter a kiss on the check. Off our intrepid reporter goes to an undisclosed location where she is met by Mr. Muttonchops from the previous film! The woman gets to peek through a hole in the wall at an ongoing orgy that is taking place. Next it is time for some sunbathing by the river. Shedding her clothes, she lies in the sun in her bra and panties as the camera looms overhead taking it all in. She returns to the office and receives her next assignment: stripping in a night club. Hold on, this looks too familiar. The camera shows the three female dancers with the clothesline from the previous film. Next is a scene illuminated with a strobe light as our reporter dances wildly. An audience of middle-aged men applaud wildly. The boss arrives in the dressing room and invites the reporter to dinner that night. There’s some on the street footage of people passing by a night club. The reporter meets a friend and is told the name of a hotel where she is to take any customers; yes, she is now trolling the alleys of Paris as a hooker. Encountering a flabby man, she takes him to the hotel room where he instructs her to don a wedding gown. The man wants to reenact a strange fantasy. He has the woman lay on top of him and he calls out for his mother. Another woman appears and chastises the client. Now it’s time for some bathtub action. Plenty of up-close shots of the reporter as she tries to wash away the grime of the day.

The film is again like the previous one: abrupt jump cuts from scene to scene. The reporter is now in an apartment, nude of course, drinking champagne. A naked man lays on the bed and she is instructed via notes to whip his back with some birch sticks. Surprise: it’s the boss that receives the flaying. Cut to the boss’ son: he is just like dear old dad. He puts the moves on a woman in the office; the reporter meanwhile gets her next assignment: a bathhouse for women only. A bizarre shot of a man standing in traffic yelling some nonsense about freeing yourself from the bounds of sexual oppression. Well, it is the 70’s after all. The reporter records some of the man’s gibberish and then heads off to a masked swinger’s orgy. She is the center of attention as masked men spin her around on a table and paw her as she goes by. Next stop, the bathhouse. Plenty of nudity here as a number of women are relaxing in a hot tub. Our reporter is welcomed to the club of Lesbian desire by another woman. What a life!

Next scene is a fancy restaurant with a man, then it’s off to a club for some dancing. Our reporter dances wildly while barefoot. Back at the office the next day she is given her next assignment looks like the scientist and the sex robots. The reporter is drugged and stripped by a so-called doctor; well, he’s wearing a lab coat. While knocked out, we are treated to a flashback of earlier sex scenes and by now this simply feels like padding. The boss’s son calls the clinic to enquire about our reporter and is told that no one by that name is checked in. I suspect a rat! Two policemen arrive at the clinic and ask some questions, but the doctor is evasive. We are shown some patients being examined at the clinic and then the doctor has the reporter stripped and while she is unconscious, more flashbacks, while the doctor secretly paws at the reporter. There is some dialogue about an experiment that is being carried out meanwhile various female patients are shown lounging around. Apparently, the reporter is selected because of her wide sexual experiences. Meanwhile father and son snoop around looking for clues as to where the reporter can be. More flashbacks are shown while the lights flash off and on. Talk about special effects on the cheap! This would make Ed Wood jealous!

Finally, the scientist explains his big theory of what this is all about; he plans on recreating perfect robots and then plans on having them mate so that they will spawn a race of perfect super beings! The father-son duo bust in and make the save before any real damage can be done to our heroine. You know, if Jess Franco’s name had been attached to this project, he would have served up something much more interesting than this lukewarm feature. In the conclusion, the police arrive and arrest the doctor and his assistants while the smug father looks on. The reporter and the son get in a car and drive away. Roll the Credits! Meh on both accounts.

Video

Presented i 1.66:1 HD 1080p 24/fps, this is probably as good as it’s going to get for this forgettable double feature as the picture is acceptable but due to the cohesive lack of plot and abrupt editing choices made, I begrudgingly give this an A-

Audio

Audio is presented in French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, the box cover promises “an amazing soundtrack of gloriously groovy psych-rock” but I found that the random selection of musical cues to be somewhat lame and grating. Optional subtitles are included in English only.

Extras

Mondo Macabro is always willing to lend some credibility to their selections and this is no different.

"Who is Jean-Louis van Belle?" is a documentary (31:29) which offer an overview of the director’s career includes footage of van Belle speaking in front of an audience but shot in an odd manner with the director’s face never being shown.

"Christophe Bier on "The Lady Kills"" video appreciation (7:28) this is an enthusiastic recommendation to the film.

"Christophe Bier on "Pevertissima"" (13:00). The critic weighs in on the feature, supplying some historical depth and speaks about some of the filming locations used.

"Les Parapluies De France" is a promotional short (0:36)

"More From Mondo Macabre" is a trailer reel (11:10)

Packaging

Packaged in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

Overall

Definitely not the mad groovy scene described on the box, this is definitely for purists only! It’s possible that there is a market for this dated fare, but it does not include me.

The Film: C Video: A- Audio: B Extras: B- Overall: C+

 


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