Blue Rita (1977)

Also known as:
Das Frauenhaus
Le Cabaret des filles perverses

If you want to see a film loaded with an excess of style, give Jesus Franco's German production, Blue Rita a look. Unless you're in any way offended by nudity, because there aren't many films that would compete with this one for continuous nakedness. Since I have a more-or-less no nudity approach with the screen-shots for these reviews, wanting people to just tune in for the writing, not a regular fix of nekkid ladies, I was struggling to capture a few seconds of non-skin! I don't think the central Rita character is actually fully-clothed at any stage during the film.

Another struggle I had was to make sense of the plot. This wasn't a problem, transfixed as I was by Franco's delerious approach to the sets, costumes and, well, everything. For your reading's sake though, I'll try to make some sense of our little viewing gem. So what sort of genre are we talking here? It's kind of a spy film, but like no spy film I've ever seen before. After some superbly psychadelic opening credits, we're introduced to the Blue Rita Bar in Paris, where semi-naked women cavort on tables for the viewer's pleasure. This is a perfect chance for Franco to depict one of his famous club sequences, which usually consist of an audience watching one of his actresses do an odd cabaret act or dance, to his beloved jazz tunes. I guess the music is pretty jazzy. Gina (Franco regular Pamela Stanford) meets with an old man who likes one of the pole-dancing women in the Bar. Next thing we know, the flabby old fellow is having sex with the dark-skinned woman on a clear plastic bed, the room complete with clear plastic furniture. This room has some amazing seventies decor, folks. Later, when it's all over, the man is gassed to unconsciousness and the woman flees down the street - nude only for high-heeled boots and a flimsy raincoat. She's caught and killed for running away by Gina, resplendant in a silver bodysuit and sunglasses. A man is watching, disturbed, from another building, with binoculars.

Later, back in a secret dungeon, the man is stripped naked and thrown in a cage, with spikes protruding downwards at him. Naked women taunt down at him, and the blue-wigged and naked-except-for-silver boots Rita herself (Martine Flety) shows up and instructs another woman to pour green gloop all over him. This has the effect of driving him sexually crazy, and he begs constantly for sex. Of course, he'll get none, but the demand is that he confess his identity as a spy, his espionage knowledge and sign a check for his fortune over to them. He resists but finally caves in after more green ooze is doused over him. It seems that the Blue Rita Bar is a front for this spy-blackmail ring. The bitter lesbian Rita, after being tortured by other spies in the nether-regions with a hot poker, gets revenge as well as business success by employing these unorthodox methods on men. She's recruited other men-hating dancers who are completely devoted to her and help enforce the sexual torture behind the scenes.

After a strange act at the Bar where an Indian woman, Princessa, fondles another woman wearing an elephant codpiece - this act needs to be seen to be believed - we see Rita doing her own piece. This mainly consists of writhing around on the floor but, she does it well. We the see that Rita requires regular treatments, of some unknown sort, by Princessa for the poker injury. Gina recruits a new woman, Sun (Dagmar Burger) to replace the first woman killed. Rita approves of Sun and after Princessa makes them blood-sisters, they have sex behind an aquarium to mellow strains of jazz. Their outside contact, the goateed Bergen, assigns Gina with a new target, Janosch Lassard, a boxer from the Eastern Bloc seeking asylum in France. Sun is given the task of seducing him at a Hungarian Bar called "The Gypsy" and bringing him back to the torture chamber.

Sun succeeds at this task easily, and Janosch beats up his own bodyguards in an intentionally hilarious fight scene to be with her. Major Karate action, with a bonus squash of an opponent's balls. However, he soon ends up in the room of plastic see-through furniture and then Rita's chamber of green glop. Rita doubles the dose after Janosch resists, but later Sun comes to him secretly and makes love to him in his cell to relieve his torment, with a gas mask on to protect herself from the sex-chemical's fumes. Another scene that has to be seen to be believed. Bergen comes to Rita and tells her there's a traitor in their midst - Princessa blames Gina because she's the outside contact with Bergen, and they torture her by unleashing the old man from the earlier assignment on her naked form! A fate worse than death, surely.

As Rita does her wriggling act again, Sun breaks Janosch out and they escape. Bergen is driving the escape car, as they travel out to the country. The man with the binoculars watches still from another car. Bergan drops them off to a mansion and leaves, instructing Sun to look after Janosch. Binocular-man shows up and liaises with Sun - they both work for Interpol and Sun tells them to rescue Gina. The Interpol guys sends his men off to the Blue Rita Bar but in the ensuing gunfight, almost everyone is killed by Interpol. Gina is killed by Princessa who's shot dead herself. Rita escapes, and gets into a car with Bergen who has just showed up, and they make their escape. Rita turns up at the Mansion with Bergen, much to Sun's surprise. Bergen's name is actually Pochinsky, and Janosch is in reality Colonel Lassard, head of the Western European section of the "CPPU". They were actually investigating if they could work with Rita, but in the end disapprove of her methods. Janosch is the bad guy after all! Will Sun escape her betrayer, or will Interpol save her and the startled Rita after all? Rita, as Janosch does his villainous monologue, seizes the moment to escape ...

This is a film any lover of cult cinema will hopefully take to their heart. It has marvellous, funky decor in spades, great jazz, and fun, universally over-the-top characters. Of course, there's oceans of nudity and quite a bit of soft-core - mainly of the lesbian variety - sex. Rita's a great character, with Martine Flety relishing her wicked villainess role. All the actors are effective though, with Dagmar Burger also cute as a button as Sun. She does a great cabaret act with a statue of David, I'll leave that one for when you watch it yourself. Franco is in light-hearted mode with this one, in many scenes it's almost a comedy, but no less a film for that.

Let's hope the world of Blue Rita is some sort of sneak preview of the future. Silver clothes, nude women everywhere, transparent furniture, evil oozing green aphrodisiacs ... Let's wait and see, and watch the film a few more times. I sure will be.

© Boris "Karate Chop!" Lugosi, 2006.

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Review written: 03/26/2006 12:56:37