Monday, 13 December 2010



Much as it pains me to say anything nice about a Jess Franco film (the only exceptions to the rule so far being the gorgeously meaningless nonsense of She Kills In Ecstacy and Vampyros Lesbos), it has to be admitted that this, the fourth of five Fu Manchu films, is not quite as wretchedly atrocious as many of his other offerings. In no sense is it remotely any good: it's slow, silly and drab to look at, and the only thing it has going for it is the reliables in the cast, headed again by the mighty Christopher Lee in yet another project that simply isn't worthy of his talents or time.

This time, master criminal Fu Manchu is hiding out in a lost Inca city in South America, kidnapping women and infecting them with snake venom before hypnotising them and sending them out into the world to kiss, and thus kill, his ten greatest enemies. (Kiss And Kill was actually an alternative title for The Blood Of Fu Manchu.) One of these enemies is Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard (Richard Greene), he receives the legendary Kiss Of Death and immediately goes blind; if he doesn't receive an antidote by the next full moon he'll die. I didn't know that's how poisons actually worked. Nayland Smith doesn't actually do very much this time out, and the action is left to unflappable old buffer Dr Petrie (Howard Marion Crawford, who played the role in all five films), a beautiful nurse in unexplained military uniform and riding breeches (Maria Rohm, married to writer-producer Harry Alan Towers aka Peter Welbeck) and sub-Indiana Jones hero Carl (Gotz George).

There are snakes, a bunch of sleazy bandits (the film spends far too much time with them), Fu Manchu's army of disposable extras, topless women chained to the walls, torture, not to mention the man's fiendish daughter (Tsai Chin, again reprising her regular role) swanning about in colourful robes. Sadly, despite the cast, it all comes over very dull thanks to Jess Franco being pretty much as rubbish as he usually is. The South American jungles just look drab and there's lots of Franco's trademark zoom shots into the murk, before the frankly feeble ending and Lee's usual declaration that "The world shall hear from me again". Only once, though, and again under Franco's direction. Can't wait.


This and CASTLE you can buy here:

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