Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies Aug 25, 2020 11:10:03 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Aug 25, 2020 11:10:03 GMT -5
Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies (2012)
Directed by: Jesús Franco
Directed by: Jesús Franco
Antonio Mayans is the titular Al Pereira in Jesús Franco's last completed film.
NOTE: A special thanks to loyal friend/reader Dennis P., who kindly sent me this along with several other films to review.
This is my introduction to the cinema of Jesús Franco. I feel I've made a grave mistake starting with his last completed film before his death in 2013. No one feels particularly great about their decision after sitting through a bad film of their own volition, but I feel I did a disservice to the beloved Franco, who amassed a cult-following thanks to six decades of committed filmmaking, writing, and composing.
All that said, I can only imagine that Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies wasn't one of the late Franco's finest efforts. At least I hope not. At 81 impossibly long minutes, it's an ill-conceived disaster that fails at being both a serviceable comedy and a competent piece of low-budget erotica. You know a softcore film fails when even scenes featuring anatomy are excruciating in their approach.
The flimsy conceit involves the rigid, hard-boiled titular detective (Antonio Mayans, a regular collaborator of Franco's, I'm told) aimlessly wandering around a lavish estate while being taunted by three promiscuous ladies (Carmen Montes, Paula Davis, and Irene Verdú). Much of the film consists of Al Pereira pacing the halls, occasionally stumbling upon the "alligator ladies" engaged in various endeavors, usually ones involving minimal clothing.
Some moments shine. An early sequence involving a stocking-clad Paula Davis shimmying rhythmically to background music accompanied by Irene Verdú was a fun one, especially so nigh into the runtime when I still held out hope the entire production would be more purposeful. But here's a film so cobbled together and directionless that it completely neglects to include any wit into its premise. There's nothing wrong with extended scenes of nudity — obviously not in a softcore film — but there's no sex, nothing explicit enough to be called "provocative" in any way, and much of it boils down to extended instances of women touching each other or taunting Pereira, who is a faceless archetype if I've ever seen one.
There is something to be said about Pereira, however. He is old school machismo. You can see it in the way he dresses, walks, and how he dismisses the sexually adventurous gals, despite more than once leaning in for an opportunity to be a voyeur. I'd like to believe his presence in this picture is somehow a soft critique on old school masculinity sneering at the idea that women could experience pleasure and satisfaction without the need of a man in any fashion. That, on the other hand, would imply that Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies has some sort of underlying purpose, which I failed to grasp over a restless, flaccid experience.
Starring: Antonio Mayans, Carmen Montes, Paula Davis, and Irene Verdú. Directed by: Jesús Franco.