CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
This is the first of two films, both from 1969, allegedy derived from the Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch "erotic classic" novel. In truth this is only nominally a film adaptation of the novel: it keeps the title and a character name or two and ditches the rest, including the whole idea of masochism which was named after the author in response to this book! This is, however, hardly surprising as it's a Jess Franco film, although what is surprising is that it's slightly better than the incomprehensible gibberish and tedium we've grown to expect from Franco. While it hits all the usual low points - overuse of the zoom, horrible focus pulling, artless softcore sex scenes and acres of nudity - its storyline almost holds up (despite a silly ending), it occasionally achieves a dreamlike feeling, and it never actually gets boring.
James Darren is a jazz trumpeter in Istanbul who catches sight of impossibly beautiful Maria Rohm one night and then sees her killed by a group of kinky sadists (including Dennis Price and Klaus Kinski). For some reason that even he doesn't understand, he's buried his trumpet on the beach but when he goes to dig it up he finds Rohm's body washed up by the tide: shaken he starts to bum his way around the world and ends up in Rio, where he takes up jazz trumpeting again - but who should walk into the club but Maria Rohm again?!? Isn't she dead? Darren pursues her obsessively, even as two of the kinky sadists (who have somewhat improbably also pitched up in Rio) meet their ends at her hands. Is she a ghost out for revenge? Back in Istanbul, Darren again walks along the beach, finds another corpse on the water's edge, turns it over.....
The "ghost seeking revenge against her killers" angle is probably the most coherent thing about Venus In Furs, although its hamstrung by Darren's hilarious voiceover of 50s slang along the lines of "Man, I totally dug that chick" - if you thought Harrison Ford's narration in Blade Runner was out of place (which it wasn't, incidentally), it's got nothing on this. Much of it's pretty dull, the dialogue is awful, it's visually ugly although it's undeniably nice to watch Maria Rohm wandering about in various states of undress. Neither as interesting or as technically well made as the Massimo Dallamano version, it is ultimately an average Jess Franco movie, slightly better than many but still hardly worth shouting about. Some of the music is by Manfred Mann.