Cast: Janine Reynaud, Rosanna Yanni
Extras: Interviews, Trailers
Oh, how I love exploitation flicks! They are free spirited movies that celebrate the art of filmmaking. Gone are the high dollar special effects and top tier actors. Instead they are replaced by the creativity of the crew along with up and comers that always seem to be up and coming. It is the absence of the studio heads and minimal budgets that seem to drive the exploitation genre. The films are free to tell stories that cover subjects considered taboo by mainstream distributors. Sometimes the genre tells a simple story we have all heard, but adds a little twist to separate itself from its contemporaries. This is the case with Blue Underground's Red Lips Double feature of "Two Undercover Angels" and "Kiss Me Monster". Here we have the common murder-mystery storylines where our heroines Diana and Regina (Janine Reynaud & Rosanna Yanni), known as Red Lips, are using various tips to solve oddities like missing strippers and secret cults. Told in the swinging sixties with a splash of sexuality, the plot is pretty minimal. Events seem to progress unnaturally, especially in "Kiss Me Monster". The only constant from scene to scene seems to be the actresses involved, which felt odd even for a B-movie. In defense of the films, it seemed that every time I was about to tune out as a viewer, something mildly amusing would occur. The films have entertainment peppered throughout the runtimes, but aren't as consistently engaging as some of their exploitation peers. A few tweaks here and there may have improved the flow of the film; I just don't see this double bill appealing to all fans of the genre.
What may have distracted me the most from the movies was the dub. Let me start by explaining my own personal double standard with foreign films. Movies that are designed to take themselves seriously or are of the arthouse variety ("Seven Samurai", "Amelie", "A Bittersweet Life") have to be in the original language with English subtitles – no exceptions. I want to feel the actor's passion as he/she reacts to the plot unfolding. Usually dubs don't reflect the subtleties that the original language contributes to the film's development. On the flip side, I like my foreign exploitation, animation, and some older horror to be dubbed. Usually the voiceovers bring a fun, cheesy element that seems to enhance the experience of watching these old flicks, and with animation I want to focus on the art rather than the subtitles. The "Red Lips" double bill should have been great dubbed movies, but they weren't. The horrendous voice acting had me longing for German dialogue and praying for subtitles. This may be the first time a dub has had so much of an impact on my movie going experience. At least the movies had enough visual appeal to combat the audio nightmare.
Both movies are presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. Despite being almost forty years old, both films beautifully capture the color of the sixties with Blue Underground's transfers. Flesh tones are great and the vibrant patterns on the set will demand your attention. Blue Underground continues their superb reputation of taking old, obscure midnight movies and transitioning them into stunning DVDs. The colorful artistic "Red Lips" double bill could not have benefited more from the technological upgrade. There is some grain and imperfections here and there, but overall the presentation is great.
Each film is equipped with a Dolby Digital Mono English track. While I may not be a fan of the voice actors who gave us the dub, the overall mix of the film is good. Dialogue is clear and audible, while sound effects are at a decent level. The front speakers have no trouble balancing the audio for the two features. Blue Underground does have a track record of taking older titles and giving them a 5.1 upgrade, but it seems only the music would have benefited from the additional effort.
Each of the two discs has the respective film's theatrical trailer and an interview with director Jess Franco. Coupled with "Two Undercover Angels" is "The Case Of The Red Lips" (13:59), where Franco tells about how his ideas developed into production of the film. The interview is very safe and standard fare for DVD releases. "Kiss Me Monster" showcases the "Jess' Tangents" (22:26), which has more of a bite than most interviews. This is a first person account of an artist and his struggles to express himself. Franco covers numerous setbacks and obstacles he has faced over the years. This deeply personal interview shows that Jess is not the perverted, skin flick king that people make him out as. It is a rare glimpse into the life of a man who has been in the business for nearly fifty years.
More than likely, renting these movies will not be an option. Outside of Netflix, there may be a few Mom and Pop video stores that carry "Two Undercover Angels" and "Kiss Me Monster", so it is hard to recommend these titles as rentals. For fans of Jess Franco, these movies will be a nice addition to your DVD collection. The transfers are outstanding. For those unfamiliar with his work, I would recommend "The Diabolical Doctor Z" or "Venus In Furs" as an introduction to the odd world of Jess Franco.