Welcome to “White Hacienda - Detainment camp for delinquent women”. Or rather anyone caught trespassing nearby as our newlywed couple discover. He’s set free, but she (a Parisian model no less) is sentenced to topless hard labour and sapphic interludes. Yes, Sadomania is a prime women’s prison material complete with hunting-humans subplot, prostitution, an evil warden and sundry debauchery.
Perfunctory plotting of course, but you could argue that Sadomania possesses a certain purity of vision. Now that may not be the best choice of words when describing a film such as Jess Franco’s 1981 sleaze “classic”, but then it knows what it’s setting out to do and simply gets down to business. Indeed, Franco has been in the industry for many years by this point amassing a huge filmography and as such he could do this kind of film in his sleep. Moreover, Spanish censorship has almost entirely dissipated at this in this post-(General) Franco era meaning that he didn’t even have to hold anything back. (Not that the BBFC have been quite so relaxed however, meaning that 17 seconds of footage involving a pin being inserted into a woman’s nipple have been substituted with other footage.)
So is this timeless Franco? Perhaps. It certainly doesn’t belie the time of its production, for example, meaning that this fits in effortlessly with the rest of his oeuvre. Likewise his artistry is at its usual minimal level (a naked spear fight in silhouette is perhaps the closest he gets) whilst the dialogue is similarly off-the-cuff, though we do get at least one classic line regarding a prisoner who is being “wined and dined by the governor… and eaten by his wife.”
Rather this is a film which simply rests on its sleazy laurels. The intent is perfectly clear with the flesh count being ridiculously high, hotpants being the sole contribution from the wardrobe department and lesbianism coming into play whenever a scene runs out of ideas. Indeed, all you need do is look at any camera move and notice how it goes out of its way to ogle a quick behind or pair of breasts before coming to the realisation that this is film with only one thing on its mind. In this respect, then, it’s a film which does exactly what you’d expect of it and therefore could be described as a perfect example of this kind of film. That said, can a great example of the women in prison movie be classed as a great example of filmmaking? I’ll leave you to make up your own minds.
In comparison to Anchor Bay’s other recent Franco releases (Sadisterotica, Kiss Me Monster and Succubus) Sadomania marks a huge improvement. In its correct ratio, anamorphically and taken from a print in fine condition, this is perhaps as good as could be expected for such a film. Indeed, technical flaws are minimal are extend solely to some overt grain on the occasional shot. That said, comparing the image to the excerpts used in the featurette reveals are slightly darker tone.
The soundtrack disappointingly comes in only English dubbed form. As such we can’t expect too much from it and it’s also worth noting that the optional DD5.1 and DTS options only serve to enhance the flaws and therefore sound awful.
Of the extras, it is the ‘Sadomaniac’ featurette which proves the most interesting. A 17-minute interview with director Franco, it discusses most aspects of the film with especial attention being paid to transsexual lead actress Ajita Wilson (seemingly whitened on the front cover) and the director’s bizarre cameo. More noteworthy for the fans, however, is the fact that its end credits play over the nipple piercing sequence which was cut from the main feature by the BBFC. (This interview is spoken in Spanish and comes with optional English subtitles.)
Elsewhere, the disc offers various galleries allowing a perusal of lobby cards, production stills, posters and the like plus a pair of trailers and biographies for Franco and Wilson.