Color, 1980, 94 mins. 27 secs.
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Lina Romay, Nadine Pascal, Olivier Mathot, Janet Lee, Mel Rodrigo, Yul Sanders, Susan Hemingway
Severin Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), Vértice Cine (DVD) (Spain R2 PAL)

The Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantieshundreds of Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantiesfilms throughout Jess Franco's directing career can be quite baffling for the unprepared, but few go as far out to confound viewers' expectations as this rollicking mixture of sex, comedy, espionage, and sadistic horror. A Spanish-Portuguese co-production handed off to the notoriously cheap Eurociné for English and French-language distribution, it's a sometimes baffling but always entertaining nugget of sleaze best suited for anyone with at least a passing familiarity with Franco's crazed cinematic style.

We first meet our two female spies of the title, French strippers Cecile (Romay) and Brigitte (Pascal, a.k.a. Zombie Lake's Lynn Monteil), being coerced into performing a naughty trenchcoat lesbian peep show that landed them in the slammer for a year. There's a twist; the men ordering them to do the show are government officials offering them freedom two months into their sentence if they agree to go undercover in the Canary Islands to infiltrate a nefarious human sex slave ring and takes lots of photos. They agree, of course, just as a young nymphet named Adriana (Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun's Hemingway) gets snatched in her bedroom by some creeps who sneak in through her window. Chained to a bed, Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantiesshe's subjected to forced sex by men and women alike, with time running out as the two nudie spies touch down in the vicinity to crack the case. That includes doing a really idiotic burlesque routine at the Flamingo nightclub emceed by the flamboyantly gay Milton (Sinfonia Erotica's Rodrigo), whom they molest for a giggle, which puts them in the sights of the kidnappers who use a funky opal ring to Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantieshypnotize their prey. The mystery soon leads to a crime-fighting senator (Franco regular Mathot), terrorists, sex torture, and cave-dwelling hippies. Not always in that order.

A frequent gray market staple on the collector's market way back in the VHS days, this film turned up a lot in early discussions of Franco films primarily on the strength of its spectacular title and the sheer lunacy of its execution. The basic premise feels like an updating of the Red Lips female detective adventures Franco cranked out like Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me Monster, but the execution is light years removed. There's a ton of nudity on display at regular intervals (though the sex scenes are oddly demure for the most part), the modest action sequences have that trademark Franco oddness (here involving a helicopter and gunfire), and the jolting moments Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantiesof sadism in the second half seem to have wandered in from a different film entirely and pack quite a jolt. Romay and Pascal both look gorgeous and seem to be having a blast, even if they're playing perhaps the stupidest characters of their entire careers, and the lush scenery makes for an attractive backdrops to all the random insanity on display.

Severin Films brings this odd, career-turning title from Franco to American home video for the first time in separate Blu-ray and DVD editions with the expected level of marketing hoopla, with random preorders of the Blu-ray shipped with, yep, a pair of actual flowered panties to do with as you will. The Blu-ray features reversible cover art (both nicely provocative), and both iterations feature the standard export version of the Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantiesfilm as the centerpiece with dubbed English or French audio options (every version is looped) in LPCM mono with optional English SDH subtitles or English translation ones for the French version. The English version is utterly ridiculous and amateurish, which is exactly why you might prefer it; fans of Bloody Moon in particular will recognize some of the voices for sure. The image quality is, well, presumably faithful for the most part to the source; many shots are visibly out of focus (even more than usual for Franco, who apparently enjoyed the effect) and the nightclub scenes have very dark, sometimes flat lighting, which doesn't make for the most visually dazzling experience. Some bright areas and blue skies are also grainy and compromised by chunky compression; however, close-ups and outdoor street scenes are nicely detailed and fairly vivid. The erratic nature of the Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantiespresentation can partially be chalked up to the nature of the film itself (which is still pretty visually impressive and clean for a Eurociné title); keep your expectations very modest, but if you're familiar with the history of Franco on Blu-ray, you'll have a better idea of what to expect. The very soft opening French credits appear to be bumped up from an SD source given the jagged nature of the lettering, presumably because this wasn't part of the negative.

Another priceless Severin interview with Franco can be found here with "Two Cats in the Canaries" (10m28s), covering the film's Canary Islands shoot, his affection for the lead actresses, and the problem with being confined to genre definitions. An interview with composer Daniel White (11m51s) conducted in 1993 by filmmaker Donald Farmer (in what appears to be a hotel lobby) is a more general overview of his time with Franco and his entry into music in general, including Franco's own affinity for music and the odd patchwork nature of some of their collaborations. Another eloquent dissection of Franco's work can be found in an appraisal by Stephen Thrower (28m46s), who traces the film's origins to the end of Franco's Erwin C. Dietrich cycle and return to Paris with his mysterious Robert de Nesle Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantiesperiod before exploring the motivation for its genre-mashing nature and the strange history behind two significantly different Two Female Spies in Flowered Pantiesversions in circulation (more on that below). There's also an odd reel of outtake footage (8m50s) sourced from VHS and film (nothing hugely revelatory, but it's interesting), and a pretty wild theatrical trailer (2m7s) with hilarious Dutch-accented narration.

Also included as a separate DVD in the limited edition (first 3,000 units) is Opal of Fire, Merchants of Sex, an alternate Spanish version of the film (onscreen title: Opalo de fuego (mercarderes del sexo), from a very dated but watchable fullscreen master running 90m15s. Presented in Spanish with optional yellow English subtitles, it's a radically different film and reportedly the original cut Franco turned in to Eurociné before the film underwent major reshoots. About a third of the film is completely different, with exclusive footage here but major portions of the other cut absent (including the entire Hemingway subplot and the opening sequence). The story also plays out quite differently at points, especially when it comes to Milton's character. Much more of the film is out of focus here as well, hilariously enough, but the added footage is fascinating, especially what may well be most Franco-ish moment in either cut: a long, moody nightclub act involving a black sex toy and a fake severed head!


Two Female Spies in Flowered Panties Two Female Spies in Flowered Panties Two Female Spies in Flowered Panties Two Female Spies in Flowered Panties Two Female Spies in Flowered Panties


Reviewed on August 31, 2017.