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Two Undercover Angels / Kiss Me Monster (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Two Undercover Angels / Kiss Me Monster (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: July 26th, 2022.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Rosanna Yanni, Janine Reynaud, Adrian Hoven, Chris Howland, Michel Lemoine
    Year: 1969
    Purchase From Amazon

    Two Undercover Angels / Kiss Me Monster – Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome reissues two of Jess Franco’s swingingest pictures from the late sixties with this two-disc special edition pairing up Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me Monster. Definitely lighter fare, and considerably more accessible than a lot of his better known films, Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me Monster are never the less quite enjoyable for the fun little slices of spy/pop movie making that they are. These aren't deep films by any stretch and they lack some of the personality that the director's better known films are both renowned and just as often despised for, but make no mistake, both of these movies still have the 'Franco touch' all over them.

    Two Undercover Angels:

    Alternately known as Sadisterotica (which is the title used in the opening credits of this release), the film follows the exploits of Diana (Janine Reynaud of Succubus) and Regina (Rosanna Yanni who starred alongside Spanish horror superstar Paul Naschy in The Hunchback Of The Morgue), two female detective who operate collectively as 'Red Lips.' When the movie begins they're skulking around and going under cover to figure out who is abducting go-go dancers and why, in hopes of saving them from what is sure to be a horrible fate. The cops prove useless here, and it's obvious that only these two hot chicks are capable of solving the mystery.

    Some quick and rather uninspired detective work soon leads to the narrowing down of the culprit to two men – a painter named Klaus (Adrian Hoven who shows up in a couple of Fassbinder films including Fear Of Fear) and the mysterious man known only as Morpho (Michel Lemoine of Seven Women For Satan). The girls rush into action to figure out who is behind all of this madness and bring him to justice, but will they save the dancers in time or end up imprisoned themselves?

    A fantastic example of the late sixties 'go go culture' and a prime piece of mindless pop entertainment, Two Undercover Angels isn't particularly heavy but it is quickly paced well shot fun. No shortage of scantily clad and/or naked ladies add some unusually innocent sexiness to the proceedings while the be-bopping soundtrack keeps it all moving along to a fun, campy beat. Very much a product of its time, the movie alternates between Danger! Diabolik style thrills and psychedelic swirliness and style and comes up a winner thanks to an enjoyable cast and plenty of keen visuals.

    Franco's use of color in the film is very strong. Here, even more so than in other comic book inspired films such as Sadomania and of interest to fans of sixties camp will be the hues present in the wardrobes of the two leads and much of the art deco/retro style furniture seen throughout the sets that the film was shot on. It's a fun time capsule of a film, one made likely for more commercial than artistic reasons, but that hardly diminishes the appeal of the go-go dancing hotties and completely fun storyline that Franco has provided us here.

    Kiss Me Monster:

    While Two Undercover Angels was fast paced, exciting and completely kooky, unfortunately the follow up film shot the same year just isn't as fresh or enjoyable, though it's hardly a waste of time for fans of the director or the two female leads who reprise their roles from the earlier movie for this second attempt.

    Following up after the events of the first movie, we find Diana and Regina working as strippers and sharing an apartment together. Unfortunately they are disturbed from an evening’s entertainment when a man stumbles to their door with a knife in his back. Before he drops over dead, he manages to give them the message he was trying to deliver before the attempt was made on his life, and before you know it, they're off to an island where they get involved with a mad scientist.

    Short on plot or logic for that matter, Kiss Me Monster tries more for laughs than for suspense and the problem with that is that the humor isn't particularly effective. Thankfully, the film is slick enough and pretty enough that it's not worth getting upset over. Franco didn't design Kiss Me Monster as a serious film, he designed it as fun, slightly sexy, pop art entertainment and taken as nothing more than that it works fine, just like the movie that came before it. Once again we get some great sixties mod sets, funky, colorful fashions and two gorgeous girls to look at and this time around Franco even throw in a mad scientist and a creepy old island castle to spice things up a bit. It's just a shame that the humor wasn't toned down a little as it does hurt the film a little when the jokes fly at you as ineffectively as they do here.

    What Kiss Me Monster does get right is a few interesting set pieces. The horror movie elements that Franco is most associated with are more prevalent here than in the movie that came before it, even if that film is the better made of the pair.

    Two Undercover Angels / Kiss Me Monster – Blu-ray Review:

    Two Undercover Angels / Kiss Me Monster come to region free Blu-ray “newly scanned & restored in 4k from their original 35mm negatives” sharing a 50GB disc. Both features are framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and offered up in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. There are some small white specks visible now and again but generally speaking, the transfers are pretty clean and show strong detail and depth. Colors are reproduced pretty nicely, they look quite natural, and we get good black levels as well. There’s loads of natural film grain here and everything always looks properly organic, showing no obvious issues at all with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts.

    Both features get 24-bit DTS-HD 1.0 Mono tracks available in German and English language options with optional subtitles in English only. The English dubbing on these films is pretty dire, so unless you’ve got an aversion to subtitles you’ll want to opt for the German language options. For the most part the audio quality is strong. Range is a bit limited and some scenes sound a tad flat but the quality is solid and tracks are clean, clear and properly balanced.

    Aside from menus and chapter selection options, there are no extras on the first disc in the set. The second disc, however, is pretty stacked. We start with the forty-six minute The Red Lips Diaries featurette, which is a new interview with film author Stephen Thrower on both films. Over the duration of this piece, Thrower talks about how the films were shot back to back in the later part of 1967 and how he would go on to make films back to back on a pretty regular basis afterwards. He also covers the connections to some of Franco's earlier efforts, the different production companies he was working with, why the films didn't hit theaters until 1969 and their release history, details on the different cast members that Franco worked with on the two features, the influence of The Avengers on these two movies, the quality (or lack thereof) of the English dubbed tracks, the ramshackle nature of the plots, this misleading marketing that was done for the movies, locations, the influence of Godard on the picture and how he appreciates the madcap qualities of these movies.

    The second disc also includes the alternate feature-length extended Spanish versions of both films. They’re taken from tape sources and presented in AVC encoded 480i with Spanish language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio and newly translated English subtitles. The Spanish language version of Two Undercover Angels runs 1:32:36 versus the version on the first disc at 1:19:03. The opening credits are placed differently, trims a bit from the first monster attack, loses the cage dance scene and extends a fair bit of dialogue. The Spanish language version of Kiss Me Monster runs 1:24:34 versus the version on the first disc at 1:19:40. The opening in this version is quite different and Kiss Me Monster version actually borrows a bit of footage from the Two Undercover Angels and Sadisterotica versions of the first movie. It also moves scenes around a fair bit and plays with the order of things, adds a bit to the night club scene.

    Carried over from the older Blue Underground release are two interviews with the director, Jess Franco himself, one on each disc. The first interview, The Case Of The Red Lips on the Two Undercover Angels disc covers where he came up with the idea for the film and how he went about getting the production actually moving from what started off as an idea into what eventually became a full-fledged feature film. It's a reasonably interesting discussion, though not nearly as good as the interview on the second disc, Jess' Tangents which is, as the title states, basically Franco ranting about many of the difficulties he's had to endure throughout his career. He talks trash about the Franco regime he had to work under, about censorship issues he's had to deal with, about his work being labeled by some as nothing more than pornography and more. This is a great piece, it shows an angrier side of Franco and a more passionate side of him than we see in the first interview, and it's obvious that these issues are very personal to him.

    Finishing up the extras on disc two are original trailers for both films, still galleries for both films and some nice menu screens.

    If purchased through the Vinegar Syndrome website, the first 6,000 copies of the release will come with a nice limited edition embossed slipcover designed by Robert Sammelin. This release also comes with some great reversible cover sleeve art.

    Two Undercover Angels / Kiss Me Monster - The Final Word:

    While there's no doubt that Franco has made many better films in his career, these two are still entertaining little comic book style adventures with some mild sleazy thrills to offer fans of the director's work – they work really well as simple, pop entertainment. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release is really strong, presenting the movies in great shape, with a nice array of extras and with their harder to find Spanish variants included as well.

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