[toggle title=”Specs” state=”close” ]
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Esther Moser, Esther Studer, Vera Chollet, Yvonne Eduser
Length: 87 min
Rating: FSK 18
Label: Ascot Elite Home Entertainment
Release Date: 2014
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78: 1
Audio: German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English (optional)
- Photo Gallery
- Eric Folk interview
- Jess Franco audio interview (French only)
- Reversible Cover
You have to hand it to Ascot Elite! They have left no stone unturned when it comes to releasing all the available material that director Jess Franco worked on with label producer Erwin C Dietrich as part of their Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection—including obscure titles like this, In 80 Betten um die Welt, aka Around the World in 80 Beds, or Mondo Erotico (1976). When the title was first announced for BD release many Franco fans were left scratching their heads having never heard of it before. However it soon became apparent that this film was one that was previously released, credited to Dietrich (under the name of Michael Thomas) as director, and now Dietrich says it was Jess Franco who lensed this cheeky little slice of German seventies erotica. Now fully restored in an updated Blu-ray edition the film can take its rightful place as part of director Franco’s mammoth, and seemingly ever expanding, filmography.
Part of the allure for Franco fans is the fact that no matter how much you smother yourself in the director’s vast catalogue of films there is always—it seems—something else that will turn up out of the blue. A new cut, hardcore inserts, clean version, re-titling, and in this case a whole ‘new’ film previously credited to another filmmaker. On this basis fans of the late director will be interested in this one for curiosity value. Although it is important to note this clearly is not Franco’s best work by any stretch of the imagination—working more along the lines of cheap and cheerful sleazy erotica, with a sporadic hardcore porn twist in the form of full view penetration inserts here and there. The film does offer some of Franco’s usual trademarks—for instance a higher ratio of lesbian scenes in relation to ‘straight’ up sex scenes, and a leaning toward S&M in two of the segments. Other than that the director’s dreamy, and hazy, sensual eroticism is severely lacking—although, as with a lot of Franco’s lesser work, moments of art still appear here and there if you are prepared to look hard enough.
The film is presented as a mondo of sorts, in the form of a ‘porno programme’ which purports to be a sexual study of sex around the world in the name of education. Although instead of adopting a mockumentary or gonzo approach to dealing with its subject material, the action is presented in a traditional minimal porn environment, with sparse interior sets playing second fiddle to the centerpiece of naked bodies. First off viewers may notice—despite what the title suggests—that there are nowhere near 80 beds involved, and in fact don’t even move into double figures. As the film moves from scene to scene—in vignettes—stock footage of different cities intersects with what looks like the same 10ft x 10ft studio space that has just been decorated in a slightly different fashion for each part. That is if it was a studio, the interiors could easily pass for one of those rent per week storage facilities. Things look that cramped inside. The same cast members are recycled from ‘location’ to ‘location,’ and although the director was accustomed to working magic with micro-budgets throughout his career, it is safe to say on a sliding economic scale In 80 Bettten um die Welt is likely to be in the bottom section of the spectrum. Franco did a much better job of tackling the subject of ‘sex around the world’ in his bigger budget—yet nevertheless equally as eccentric—Jungfrauen-Report (1972).
We start off, ‘Sex in the City’-style, at a black mass hosted for millionaires in Greenwich Village. The mass of an entire five people gives the director opportunity to mix two of his usual themes sex and horror and, as a small audience watches the action, Franco’s love of voyeurism also appears to be satisfied.
Ticking on to ‘San Francisco’ after the Satanists hit their peak the film introduces a modern day Bathory who purports to bathe in sperm to keep looking younger than her professed 80 years. Viewers don’t get to see this of course, but get a graphic lesbian scene between interviewer and fruity octogenarian (thankfully played by a much younger actress) in lieu of any bodily fluids on screen. Next, we go to Hamburg to visit a dominatrix who calls herself the Bride of Satan, and provides a demonstration of her prowess as she cuckolds a male ‘student’ with the help of another female cohort. Some tribal action gets aired in Agoa, at a strange wedding ceremony that sees the bride deflowered by her Godfather in front of the entire wedding party—new husband and all—as the guests sing a little ditty to set the tone for the action. Franco had an extremely cheeky sense of humour and this is most obvious in the next segment which takes place at a sex school in Amsterdam. Here a class of naked students get to try out sex toys and talk about their masturbation techniques. We are treated to the delights of a male student having full sex with a blow-up doll—while the teacher makes the appropriate noises—in front of the class, a man in make-up being penetrated with a phallic sex toy, and a woman who uses erotic fantasy—not touch—to bring herself to orgasm. Round this off with a couple in the Orient cavorting—yet not touching—to a lengthy performance by some musicians on the sitar and that is the basic ‘meat’ of In 80 Bettten um die Welt. Those who are looking for some straight up Euro-porn could walk away disappointed, given the director’s eccentric approach and lack of consistency in hardcore footage.
As with the rest of the Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection this is a stunning restoration on to Blu-ray. Because of this, unfortunately, the unforgiving nature of high definition allows the film to appear in its full low-budget glory demonstrating the bare bones quality of the production values. Some of this would have been masked by the hazy glow of retro video, here however, although the flesh tones present naturally and well saturated, so do all the flaws—especially on bodies. Regardless of this, seeing what the director had to work with, or lack thereof, does give the opportunity to revel in the fact that the entire exercise is still made worthwhile by Franco’s capable hands.
We are given only the original German audio track, with optional English subtitles. Although the sound is not particularly sophisticated in this instance, the audio presents as well mixed, and without flaw or damage.
Worth the admission price of picking up this Blu-ray release alone—in my humble opinion—is the 15-minute interview included with cult actor Eric Falk. Those versed in Euro-trash will know Eric from his work with Franco/Dietrich in (among others) Barbed Wire Dolls (1976), Wanda the Wicked Warden (1976), Blue Rita (1977) and this film where he has a role as a strong man. Falk also appeared in Dietrich’s Lina Romay helmed erotica Rolls Royce Baby (1975)—one of the few films Romay starred in that wasn’t directed by Franco. The peak of Falk’s career came when he had a large role in the Dietrich-produced trash opus, Paul Grau’s Mad Foxes (1981)—the actor appearing as the Nazi biker tribe’s head rapist, Stileto. Here in a candid interview the actor gives his rather bizarre, and highly entertaining, thoughts on cosmic sexuality, while providing honest insider industry information such as ‘we really have to fuck these asses ten hour a day.’
Not Franco’s best work, nevertheless as with all the director’s titles a must see for fans. This lesser known title In 80 Bettten um die Welt may rehash the themes used in Franco’s 1972 Jungfrauen-Report but the film still holds novelty value due to its oddball approach and comedic elements contained within. All-in-all, another top quality restoration from Ascot Elite as part of their Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection.