Shinning Sex - Shinning Sex( Blu Ray) [Severin - 2020]
From the mid-1970s Shinny Sex is a rare example of a more overtly sci-fi focused film from sleazy euro auteur Jess Franco. The film tells of exotic dancer/high-class hooker Cynthia(Lina Romay), who goes home with a strange and cold couple- they turn out to be aliens and weaponize her lady bits. In any other directors hands, this plot would create an extremely sleazed and silly film, but instead, we get a decidedly trippy and uneasy ride. Yes, it’s still very sleazed and fleshy with at points the overwhelming close-ups getting a bit too much, but it’s certainly an unbalancing and strange film, that takes 70 sci-fi tropes and blends them into Franco’s highly distinctive cinematic world. Here from Severin, those key resurrectors of Franco’s back catalogue is a region free release of the film- taking in a new uncut print of the film, and a good selection of extras.
Shinny Sex appeared in the year 1976- it was filmed in and around La Grande-Motte, France, with much of the film taking place inside hotels room. And what we get is a strong softcore, moving towards hardcore film- which is really more about mood and strange atmosphere, than it is about firm and set storytelling. It’s certainly at the more arty and up-close fleshy end of Franco truly huge filmography, so with that in mind, I’d say it’s for your more seasoned Franco fan- though that said it’s certainly one of the more hypnotically effective, and distinctive of his more wholly flesh bound films.
The film kicks off as in means to go on- with long, and at points very close-up shots of Ms Romay body- as she fondling/ caressing herself before she goes on stage to do her exotic dancer act- with the backdrop of cheesy and bright easy listening, which is used to great lightly subverting effect. After her show, she’s informed she has two new clients- these are Alpha( Evelyne Scott) and Andros(Raymond Hardy), a dressed in black duo, who have emotionless and cold demeanours. The chatty Cynthia (Romay) goes back with the pairs hotel room- and she starts some woman-on-woman action with Alpha, who seems to be carrying out her part in an oddly stilted and strange manner, at one point she jumps up and grabs a small china hand, which contains strange sparking cream- which she proceeds to smear on Cynthia‘s lower ladies bits- with lots of extreme, almost seeing what she had last dinner close-ups. From here the three caress and join more, as Cynthia becomes more and more a cold and controlled thrall. Along the way we have Franco himself as a one leather glove wearing and wheelchair-bound psychic doctor, and a few other strange characters appearing, which are removed by the weaponize Cynthia .
The film features some great and odd soundtrack work from Daniel White- which is best described as spaced out and sinister keyboard jazz, with some of the tones/ feels used very much nod towards the work of The Residents around this time. Though there is a lot of flesh, most of which is Romay- it largely remains un-titillating, instead, there’s a keen air of unease, subtle alien strangeness, and at points odd longing/ sadness. Romay is as always most effective in her performance, subtle shifting from chatty and buoyant dancer, to controlled human. Scott and Hardy are good as the cold and strange humanoid aliens, and the wheelchair-bound Franco adds in an extra dose of off kilter-ness, and subtle humour to the proceedings. This fully uncut version of the film runs at the one hour and forty-five-minute mark, and while in places it could do with maybe a little nip and tuck- Shinny Sex is another rewarding and distinctive Franco film, and it’s certainly most fascinating to see him doing his take own take on cold and weird 70’s sci-fi.
Moving onto this Blu Ray, and we get a great total uncut version of the film. The new print looks great, with good clarity of both light and shade, and balanced colour definition- with of course some great flesh tones. On the extras side of things, we get a good selection of things. First off we get a commentary track from Authors/Podcasters Robert Monell and Rod Barnett- and this is very good. They go from talking about how Franco uses a pseudo name in the film's credits of Dan L Simons, and why he might have done this. They move on to discuss how many of Franco films start with a cabaret dance sequence, and how Franco used Romay body in different ways. They go on to discuss when the picture was filmed, and how he also filmed erotic Spy parody Midnight Party at the same time- managing to make both films in just fifteen days. As they go on they comment on certain scenes, and what the tone might mean. We get a discussion about how Franco first met Romay, and her husband Ramon Hardy- who plays the role of Andros in the film. They talk about the architecture in the film, use of refection/ look through glass, how voyeurism is used, and much more- a really must play track There’s Shinning Jess- this runs nineteen minutes and finds Stephen Thrower discussing the film to hand- talking about its production, the film's themes, the way it plays like a hard softcore film, it’s strange atmosphere, and it’s score. There’s a twenty-nine-minute interview with a French filmmaker Christophe Gans(Crying Freeman, Brotherhood of The Wolf, Silent Hill)- where he talks about Franco and his films. We have the third part of the Land of Franco docs- this runs twelve minutes, and finds Thrower meeting up with actor Antonio Mayans in Malaga- where Franco and Lina spent the last few years of their life, and where his ashes are spread. The pair go to the locations used on the following films 1984’s Night Has a Thousand Desires ( aka Mil sexos tiene la noche), 1985’s Dirty Game in Casablanca (aka Juego sucio en Casablanca), and 1996’s Killer Barbys- they also visit a few of the locations where Franco’s ashes where spread/ left- including the production company he work in towards the end of his life- and now some of his ashes sit in an urn. There’s Never Met Franco – a six and half minute Interview with Filmmaker Gerard Kikoine, who edited some of Franco’s 70’s output. We have Franco At Eurociné – a seventeen-minute Interview with Producer Daniel Lesoeur, where he discusses how they first met & worked together, moving on to discuss the film to hand, other films Franco made with Eurociné in the ’80s, and how he counted Jess as like a member of his family.
In finishing Shinny Sex stands as one of the more off-kilter and strange examples of Sci-fi sexploitation- with Franco creating a cold, subtly cryptic, and at points tragic film. It’s certainly one of his great sex films of the ’70s, and really unlike anything else others were doing in the genre during the time/ since. This Severin Blu Ray is marvellous- with a great new uncut print and loads of great extras. If you’re a Franco fan, or if you like you're sexploitation strange and unsettling- this is a must-buy!Roger Batty