A throwback to director Jess Franco's explicit sex-and-violence cheapies of the '70s, TENDER FLESH has nothing to offer beyond its gratuitous exploitation elements.
Young dancer Paula (Amber Newman) performs an explicit striptease act at a kinky nightclub. She is invited by Gorgona (Lina Romay), who is in league with Paula's boyfriend Carlos (Mikel Kronen), to a remote island to do a private performance for wealthy Peter Kalman (Aldo Sambrell) and his wife
Irina (Analia Ivars). Once there, the two couples and Gorgona, along with housekeeper Furia (Analia Ivars) and chef Paul Radek (Alain Petit), indulge in a lengthy series of debaucheries, during which Paula is drugged and whipped.
Waking up the next morning, Paula discovers a videotaped message challenging her to make it off the island, with a suitcase full of money as the potential prize. Before she can claim the suitcase, Paula becomes the target in a human hunt. She is able to kill Irina before Peter shoots her dead;
Carlos tries to flee with the money and is shot by Furia. The survivors gather in the dining room, where Paula's roasted body is served up for dinner.
As the synopsis suggests, there's very little to TENDER FLESH beyond a series of softcore tableaux, capped by a MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) ripoff that's practically over before it starts. Though the photography and the bodies on display are attractive, the emphasis on sadism and sordidness means
that the sex scenes are more unpleasant than erotic, and the lack of characterization robs the story of any dramatic interest. It doesn't help that the lousy sound mix renders much of what dialogue there is practically inaudible.
An air of pretension hangs over the movie, from an opening quotation from James Joyce's Ulysses to a laugh track that plays over the hunt for Paula, as if Franco was attempting a commentary on media bloodlust. But the attempt to satirize audience demand for cheap thrills rings awfully hollow in a
movie that exploits it so thoroughly. Those seeking nothing but cheap thrills might be satisfied, but by any remotely informed standards of criticism, there is very little here to discuss or recommend. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
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