Kiss Me Monster Review
Kiss Me Monster was one of two “Diane and Regina” films made by Jess Franco in 1967. Alongside Sadisterotica (also gaining a UK release from Anchor Bay) it is, loosely speaking, a spy thriller in which our intrepid of crime fighters/strippers set about righting wrongs in exotic places. In the case of this entry that means a secret formula needs to be found and genetic engineering of a no doubt thoroughly evil nature to be stopped.
It could be said then that what we have is a Franco film with a clearly defined plot – and many would also say that this is a good thing. At the very least its audience is going to have some kind of business or other to cling onto. Yet Franco seems completely disinterested in telling any kind of story and as such the longueurs soon sneak in. Indeed, Kiss Me Monster resembles nothing more than a film quickly scrambled together whilst its cast and crew enjoyed a holiday. This would therefore explain the exotic island setting, the heavy reliance on stock footage and the almost home movie manner in which much of it has been captured, not least its excessive midpoint psychedelic acid jazz wig-out (which may sound a little over the top, but then it sums up the mood perfectly). Great fun for cultural architects perhaps, but for the rest of us it’s frankly dull.
Strangely enough, Kiss Me Monster is also intended as a spy spoof. Yet there are no reference points as such (there are no nods towards James Bond, for example, surely a pre-requisite for this type of picture), just a bunch of tired clichés recycled one more time: the secret society, the mad professor, etc. Indeed, it’s all to little discernible effect and certainly not to any kind comical one.
Yet one film does come to mind, namely Louis Malle’s Viva Maria!. Made two years earlier, this French effort also featured a pair of stripteasing leading ladies and had its tongue firmly within its cheek. And whilst not brilliant it did at least prove amusing, looked absolutely fantastic and boasted Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau as its stars. Look at Kiss Me Monster, which offers none of these, and the comparison is therefore hardly flattering; indeed it can only succeed it bringing it down a few notches further.
The misery doesn’t quite end here, however, as we are also getting the film in its “English version” incarnation. Hideously dubbed, any subtlety or nuance of performance which may have existed has been bludgeoned into complete submission. If Kiss Me Monster wasn’t quite so awful in its original form, then it most certainly is now.
The latest Jess Franco release from Anchor Bay’s UK arm, Kiss Me Monster sadly doesn’t live up the standards offered by the likes of Barbed Wire Dolls or Jack the Ripper. Whilst we do the film approximately in its original aspect ratio (should be 1.66:1 and it looks about 1.55:1 here), otherwise it looks as though this disc has been taken directly from a poor VHS copy. The colours are faded, the contrasts poor and the clarity quite shocking. Moreover, ghosting blights even the tiniest of movements to top off a quite frankly appalling transfer. And things don’t improve much with the soundtrack, although that may have plenty to do with the fact that this is the English dub version. Indeed, Anchor Bay are offering DD2.0, DD5.1 and DTS mixes, but surely it’s completely pointless. Whether coming out of two speakers or five, there really isn’t a lot you can do to help matters. As for extras, we get a brief bio for Franco, plus trailers for this particular title as well as Sadisterotica and his controversial 1981 effort Sadomania which has also gained a recent UK release.