In the moments before attending a pool party, apparent strangers-to-acquaintances, a distinguished, if not quirky man and a promiscuous, self-involved German woman, withdraw to a secluded building in order for the brazen woman to shave the bikini line exposed excess hairs before strapping on a suit. Their intricately deep discussions about desires, sex, and kinky foreplay fair nothing more but course, blunt banter between two familiarities, but when the woman pretends she must be tied up and punished for playfully biting the man’s ear until bleeding, the next few moments after fall into a state of obscurity of a he said, she said rape accusation. As confounding declarations are made and fingers are being pointed to decimate lives, a sack of deceptions and an abundance of threats accrue through a blackmail scheme and an abduction based vendetta. Nothing can be certain and no one can be trusted between the two, but one thing is definite, a third man watching from afar has nefarious plans of his own.
Like sitting front row at a bastardized version of an off-broadway show, “Open Wound” is an immaculate stage performance of battered psychologies and visceral deceptions from writer-director Jürgen Weber. The thriller, also known as “Time Is Up” or “Open Wound: The Über-Movie,” measures extreme lengths of human bitterness while constantly shapeshifting into plot twist after plot twist aggregated with clusters of popup violence. The Chinese born Weng Menghan, under her moniker Tau Tau, is the financial backer of “Open Wound. The globetrotting author makes her breakthrough imprint into the feature film business that modestly begins with an opening scene about anal sex among other verbal sexual references before man versus woman fisticuffs and a pivoting third act that rapidly alters character compositions into, essentially, a free for all. So metaphorically speaking, a Chinese producer walks into a bar, sits onto a stool next to a German director, and orders one of the more absorbingly chic cocktail thrillers in English. “Open Wound” is a melting pot of cultural influences and a display damaged egos that’s simply brilliant.
“Open Wound” has a short character list comprised of three characters. The first is woman who is introduced first, or rather her lips do when she declares her love anal sex and the parallel criteria for types of cars in one man’s garage, as she’s using a straight razor to trim the dark haired pubes from her bikini line. She oozes eroticism like a bodily fluid that gravitationally seeps from between the legs, spilling innermost desires, whims, and historical sex-capades with in a philosophical prose. #Nippelstatthetze advocate, German podcast expert, and stunning model, Leila Lowfire engrosses herself into the role of fierce, proud, confident, and strong woman. With an established vigorous sexual prowess, Lowfire culminates the femme fatales and breakneck show-stoppers female roles, notably similar in Quentin Tarantino movies, with high-brow tastes and a debasing reprove. Lowfire’s accent is low and thick and can be considered her weakness here as getting your brain to interpret the fluidity of the words, structures, and compositions is undeniable challenging at times, but acts upon fervor while in her lingerie or even topless throughout the film. The contrast against man is stark. His introduction paints him as unequipped, socially inept, and hopeless desperate. Man longs for Woman, but knows he doesn’t have a chance with her until she offers up a random game of role-play that inevitably leads to disarray. Jerry Kwarteng’s man performance is systematically peerless and a complete joy. Even if the character lacks depth, Kwarteng’s range is devilishly good with the only comparison coming to mind would be James McAvoy and his multiple personality disorder in “Glass.” Once Man and Woman comes to terms after a back and forth bout with dominance, the Suicide King’s grand appearance bestows upon the plot an even bigger, clunkier monkey wrench. The Suicide King’s an ex-con, looking for revenge in a small vat of acid, and his mark and him have a long, complicated history which parts personally shock the other. Erik Hanson’s raspy voice, feeble appearing physique, and lofty age has a second row seat to his character’s unwillingness to die, in a slick performance that’s part nihilist and part psychotic to which Hansen pulls off.
Weber’s choice toward “Open Wound’s” narrative layout conflicts with how the DVD release is specifically marketed. “Open Wound” rides the dark comedy pine that is peppered with black tongue-and-cheek dialogue and violence and as will be noted later in the review, the advertising depicts something far more extreme and graphic. On the shock value scale of one to ten, “Open Wound” hovers around a solid five and maybe a seven or eight for the casual popcorn viewer and, personally, I don’t believe “Open Wound” was intended to be a source of utter distress and visual barbarity. There’s brisk lighthearted comedy that softens the blunt force. For example, in the room with the Man and Woman, a record player will every so often, to comically assist in explaining the actions, play the cheesy tune of lounge background music with a singer narrating the character’s every move and also be the voice of between chapter contention or bewilderment. The singing is privy to only the audience just as the twelve chapter titles that offer a mixed bag of sequences that interchange between English, German, and Chinese title introductions, a toilet paper title card in reverse action, and an artistic rendering of chapters titles and just like his title card introductions, Weber also utilizes an assortment of styles to tell his story, whether be a 5 minute sepia, nitrate film burn effect, or day dream sequence, that peers the sudden twists and eruptive chaos between the characters. While the effects work to sensationalize the context, they tend to be equally be nauseating and annoying as a disruptive structure that seemingly doesn’t make sense to the naked eye.
MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing distributes Jürgen Weber’s “Open Wound” onto DVD home video as the the 11th spine feature under the Wild Eye Raw & Extreme sub-label. The DVD is presented in a widescreen format and the image quality holds up well, withstanding Weber’s bombardment of stylistic techniques of distortion, over exposure, sepia, and contrast. There’s a little softness around the skin, more noticeably during facial close ups, with a slightly lower bit rate in the compression but still very agreeable detail. The stereo two channel audio channel does the job, but has flaws with Weber’s score have an equal playing field with the dialogue tracks. The audience already has to manage Leila Lowfire’s thick German accent and their ears will also need to try and filter out the soundtrack that’s invasive upon the colloquy. Not much range to warrant mentioning, but the depth was well tweaked amongst Weber’s visual compliments. There are unfortunately no bonus material with the feature, but the DVD reversible insert is graced with a semi-naked and bound Leila Lowfire. “Open Wound” is dangerous, sexy, thrilling, and complicated to say the least, but stamped as a Raw & Extreme film it should not; however, see this film! Director Jürgen Weber’s visionary molotov cocktail of a story is an underground must for arthouse lovers and noir enthusiasts.
Zaki owns a small kebab shop in England’s vern own party central in Bournemouth on the South Coast. Every night, Zaki withstands the late night drunken antics of the local party goers in the hope his son, Salah, would continue his graduate studies and to also, maybe, one day own his own fine dining restaurant, but when he becomes involved in a scuffle with a late night rowdy bunch, he’s killed in a fit of alcoholic whims. Salah takes over his father’s shop, neglecting his studies, and continuing the serve the intoxicated public in his father’s memory, but when he accidentally kills one stubborn customer, he mincings his body parts into kebab meat instead of calling the police and whenever a deplorable enter his shop, he serves them the newest menu item. One sloppy drunk customer after another, Salah wages a vigilante’s war on party world, especially toward a new dance club that masks over a drug trafficking ring.
“K-Shop” is the 2016 horror from writer-director Dan Pringle in his first helmed feature that aims to explore the troublesome nature of the after party, intoxicated human plagued upon sensible people. Pringle strengthens the social commentary by implementing actual footage of drunken debauchery filmed right on England’s South Beach that range between spewing chunks onto the sidewalks to heated back and forth fisticuffs. Pringle’s script tackles that insatiable inner urge everyone has felt at least once in their life when dealing with unreasonable nightlife and that is to raise a fist against them to show how to act like a decent human being. “K-Shop,” which denotes being a double entendre for Kebab Shop and Kill Shop, takes the act one step further, introducing a cannibalistic element to the mix as Salah rids scrum from the earth by slicing and dicing them into his kebab mixture. Salah’s father, Zaki, is a Turkish refugee and him and his son are essentially immigrants that becomes another script undertone brought up the club owning, drug trafficking, all over bad guy Jason Brown.
Salah is brilliantly executed by Ziad Abaza who brings a cache of raw emotions to his character. “K-Shop’s” trailer hinted at a horror-comedy feature, but there’s nothing funny about Abaza’s Salah who seems that life is wholeheartedly against him as a downtrodden college student in a search for basic human decency and compassion. Salah is pitted against an egregious Jason Brown played by Liverpool native Scot Williams and Williams embodies and embraces being a person of high social status and fame, a person of who lavishes in luxury, and epitomizes being a slime ball. Brown’s a stark contrast against Salah who has to slave away and earn his living while Brown takes his life for granted. The supporting cast are also very interesting starting with Reece Noi as Malik who voyeuristically takes an interest in Salah’s vigilantism and who also, perhaps, shares common cultural aspects, but Malik is just a kid acting beyond his age at times and then drastically at his age at the most crucial moments during his dynamics with Salah. Another character is Salah’s potential love interest in Sarah portrayed by Kristin Atherton. Atherton provides a sweet, quiet, and intelligible demeanor to Sarah that projects onto Salah whereas other women in Salah’s life, mostly his patrons, are loud, obnoxious, and corrupt. Lastly, “Doomsday’s” Darren Morfitt instills a catalytic character in fallen from grace Chaplin Steve. There’s a bit of a confessionally staged event between Salah and Steve that offers a realization and a tale-end twist that just puts that unwanted pit into the bottom of stomachs.
Now “K-Shop” isn’t totally perfect, especially in the flow of the film. Pringle doesn’t clearly provide a timeline of progression. Between the holidays Christmas and News Years is perspectively prominent, but Salah’s calling, or mission, seems to extend weeks, if not months, and that isn’t clearly communicated. Plus, there’s slight difficulty understanding turn page moments that dilute the significance of events whether it’s through too much exposition or choppy editing. Where “K-Shop” is weak, Pringle makes up with gore and story. The gore is absolute from scorching an inebriated man’s face sizzling in a vat of hot oil to chopping up limbs with a butcher’s knife in order to make his delicious kebabs. Pringle’s conclusion is absolving, satisfying, and also, at the same time, fruitless because even though Salah makes a stand against immorality, a realization washes over him that nothing will ever change despite cutting the head from the snake.
Breaking Glass Pictures distributes “K-Shop” on to an unrated DVD home video. The DVD is presented in a widescreen 2:35:1 aspect ratio and the overall quality is stunning sporting a dark painted picture and still convey a healthy color palette even if lightly washed in a yellow hue. The’s no attempt to enhance the image as the natural color tone comes right out and off the screen and that dark gritty matter really speaks to Pringle’s capabilities to create shadows. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is surprisingly hanging around par level as, some of those key moments once spoken about, are lost in a muddled heap in the dialogue track, but there’s range and fidelity thats good on the output amongst a balanced five channel track. Bonus material includes a behind-the-scenes segment and deleted scenes plus Breaking Glass trailers. “K-Shop” is dark, gritty, and eye opening backed by a versatile lead in Ziad Abaza and helmed by newcomer filmmaker Dan Pringle, seeking to entertain and unearth our inner and deadly vigilante doppelgänger in the midst of social indecencies.
Cecile and Brigitte have served two of their twelve month sentence for inappropriate sexual acts involving prostitution and stripping. International authorities, including an American Senator, remove the two ladies of the night from their incarcerations and have them audition a private and provocative dance routine that will spring them from prison life and place them into a contract for hire that the pair of beauties find difficult to refuse. Cecile and Brigitte use their God-gifted talents to slip undercover as a pair of lesbian dancers in order to spy on Mr. Forbes, the Flamingo club owner on the Canary Islands who moonlights as a sadistic sex trafficker. Forbes kidnaps, rapes, and then, with the help of his wife Irina Forbes, hypnotizes well-known and famous women to be the ever faithful lovers of Mr. Forbes wealthily clients and to stop the egregious trafficker, any smoking gun evidence must be photographed for the international police to make a move on an arrest.
Jess Franco is the maestro of guilty pleasure shlock and the 1980 violently erotic, crime drama “Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties” is no different inventoried with ubersleaze spiced in folly comedy and tense sadism. The sort of mixed bag genre film only writer-director knew, and understood, how to achieve on a minuscule budget level in hastily conditions, but “Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties,” whether designed or by chance, stemmed from the combination of old and new footage, re-edited out of the original title, “Ópalo de fuego: Mercaderes del sexo,” and told a slightly different tale with slightly rearranged character backgrounds and graphic scenes, and featured two different locations that were later labeled Las Palmas of the Canary Islands to tie it all together. Severin has included both versions on a limited edition Blu-ray (“Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties”) and DVD (“Ópalo de fuego: Mercaderes del sexo”) release to experience both versions.
Franco’s long time common law, then legal in 2008, spouse Lina Romay, under pseudonym Candy Coster stars as Cecile in really a non-seductive, non-promiscuous, and only pinched with erotica role. Unlike Romay’s “Bare Breasted Countess” (aka “Female Vampire”) role, Cecile undercuts the erotic tone with more gratuitous comic and threatening nudity. Relishing into a staple of erotica are all of Romay’s supporting cohorts consisting of “Zombie Lake’s” Nadine Pascal, “Women Behind Bars'” Joëlle Le Quément, Susan Hemingway of “Love Letters from a Portuguese Nun.” Interesting enough, Hemingway isn’t credit in either version of the film. Pascal offers playful dilly-dally while practically be nude throughout whereas Quément slips into a deeper carnality with an unhinged relationship with her sex trafficking husband Mr. Forbes while Hemingway just provides a taken-advantaged vessel to plunder her dignity, soul, and body for easy money. Surrounding the gorgeous vixens are ruthless, dirtbag men played by Claude Boisson as the club owning sex trafficker and “Elsa Fräulein SS’s: Olivier Matthot as the sleazy American Senator Connelly. The role with the most opaqueness between the two versions of the film goes to Mel Rodrigo as Milton, the club’s gay artist organizer with an existential crisis and a quick to rebel attitude.
Though charming in its own delectable unchaste ways, Jess Franco deploys a haphazardly glued story inflamed with by chance moments shrouded with psychosexual tendencies. Sexually ostentatious and manic, “Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties” wildly pivots like an out of control sprinkler, spitting lustful filth, jovial comedy, and menacing suspense everywhere while still, by way of only Franco can accomplish, accurately hitting the intended mark of downright Eurotrash entertainment. A shocking, yet hardly noticeable, factor of the director’s is his film withholds any large amounts of blood or gore; in fact, gore is absent and the blood is sparse, especially during the girls-on-girl torture scenes involving bondage, a switchblade near the hind parts, and a cinder-weaponized cigarette, but the element that sparks gritty fortitude in those same said scenes, shot intently with fraught close-ups and well positioned shadows, could culminate a subversive tone that ultimate could convey a scene without words.
Severin’s limited edition 2-disc release of the Eurocine produced “Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties” has rightfully been graced with the Blu-ray treatment. The release also has the Spanish edit version of “Ópalo de fuego: Mercaderes del sexo.” The Blu-ray is a 1080p encoded AVC transfer presented in a near stand definition aspect ratio format from a restored into HD, uncut print. The overall color palette appears fairly washed with only some segments, especially peering out over the water or inside tight quarters, stand out with rich color. Darker scenes are heavily splayed with turquoise that, again, give the washed overlay, but the richness of the shadows with grindhouse print grain is stellar. Franco’s struggle with focusing, as part of technical self embattlement or as part of an against-the-grain auteur, are prominent throughout. The two LCPM 2.0 tracks are dubbed only in English or French and while not tracked in the native Spanish, either track will serve as a palpable substitute despite the English track being transcribed awfully cheesy and the French track with consistent hiss. Bonus material includes “Two Cats in the Canaries: An Interview with Jess Franco” is an undated interview with Franco recalling his love for the Canary Islands and being a genre maverick. There’s also a 1993 interview with long time Franco composer Daniel White conducted by “Cannibal Hookers'” Donald Farmer, a thorough analyst of Franco and “Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties” by Stephen Thrower, location outtakes, and a theatrical trailer. While “Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties” is not the best example of Jess Franco’s credits, the vicious erotic thriller is arguably ambitious and epitomizes the style of the legendary filmmaker with sultry, fringed performances and an unforgettable narrative lined up in a one-two punch package from Severin Films!