Frightened Woman, The / Femina ridens (1969)

4.5 out of 5

The beautiful Dagmar Lassander stars as Maria, who is drugged and abducted by Dr.Sayer, played by Philippe Leroy, a crazed chauvinistic hater of women who believes that women are bent on dominating the world and creating a new order where men have no part to play. In his strange mansion Dr.Sayer toys with his victims by using twisted methods of BDSM and sadistic sex games before finally killing them at the point of orgasm.

The film spirals, twists and turns, weaving itself upon a psychedelic web of pure 60's eroticism much like the early works of Spanish sleaze director Jess Franco, although, with a lot more emphasis on style and dreamy, somnolent imagery that often invokes the nightmarish, the sadistic, the strange but yet always alluring and hypnotically beautiful.

The sets are awe inspiring and so creatively rendered and constructed to be that of true art. And the films score is just as dreamlike as its visual counterpart.

Piero Schivazappa delivers a splendid artistic and erotic masterpiece. Not to be missed.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics