Venus in Furs
Reviewed by Feb 24th, 2004

It should be stated right off that this has nothing to do with the book of the same title by de Sade. Apparently, AIP insisted on the title and Franco conceded by allowing this change and putting Maria Rohm walking downstairs in a fur coat a few times. But on to the story…

Trumpet player Jimmy (James Darren) finds himself alone on a beach, his trumpet buried in the sand, not sure what he’s doing there. He finds the dead body of a woman washing up on the beach, and flashes back to a party sometime in the past, where this woman was killed by some people into a strange sex scene. Pretty much the whole film is done in flashback.

The party in question took place in Istanbul, but Jimmy is now roaming around Europe playing parties and clubs. He meets a nightclub singer named Rita (Barbara McNair) in Rio and they start living together. Though they aren’t exclusive and she is “supposed ot be cool with these things,” she starts feeling jealous when Jimmy talks in his sleep about a woman named Wanda. Wanda is either the dead woman who washed up earlier or someone who looks just like her. Jimmy knows he probably shouldn’t pursue her, but he can’t help himself.

It’s basically a strange love story with some horror and revenge elements. The dialogue is at times hilarious but it’s fairly entertaining, especially after watching the interview with the director and trying to understand that a lot had been changed from the way it was originally imagined. The acting is decent and the directing fairly stylish, without too much of Franco’s gratuitous closeups (though plenty of gratuitous nudity of course) and the soundtrack works well. The weird cuts and lens filters are kind of fun and refreshing.

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