The Laughing Woman
Beautiful PR woman Maria finds herself trapped in the home of the sinister and troubled Dr Sayer, where she is subjected to a series of increasingly bizarre, terrifying and degradating sex games. Sayer admits that he has murdered several women after the same ordeal, always killing them at the point of orgasm. But all is not what it seems, and this is revealed to be the fantasy of a troubled man. Sayer finds salvation in Maria and falls for her, only for her to turn the tables on him and ultimately reveal that she too is not what she seems.
Just too bizarre to sum up in words.
Using a sort of bizarrely enticing retro pop-chic style as cosmetic covering, "Femina Ridens" is either the most, misogynistic giallo out there, or the least. Not a master of restraint of subtlety, this film veers wildly in both directions, but at least it goes places where few giallo dare to tread.
In a typical Argento film, the love interest (or second-string cute female) would be an obvious target for the killer on the loose. The questions raised by the audience is how and when the killer will get her; the why is always a means to wrap the story up, but when was the last time you watched a slasher and wondered why the killer was doing it? The clues…
The Frightened Woman is quintessential 60's sexploitation thats a cut above its peers. The basic premise is a wealthy man Sayer, kidnaps a female employee Maria, to play sadistic games with and turn into his abiding slave. Its all going to plan until Maria hits a bout of Stockholm syndrome and becomes attached to Sayer. She tries to make him fall in love with her, or is she playing her own games.
Everything works in this gem, the sets and costumes are visually eye watering. Philippe Leroy is superbly wicked as Sayer & Dagmar Lassander is a knock out as Maria, her funky dance routine is sublime, Stelvo Cipriani did an amazing job with the soundtrack. Its such a shame its…
I saw this under the title, "The Frightened Woman," and it is CRAZY! Everything about it is crazy, but especially the set design. It's a whole lot of fun to see with an audience. Oh yeah and two words: Boat-car
I'm not sure I've ever experienced a more dramatic or more pleasant film-watching surprise than my first viewing of FEMINA RIDENS (English: THE FRIGHTENED WOMAN or THE LAUGHING WOMAN). While I went into the film expecting ultramodern sets, a preposterous gallo plot, and a generally unhinged cinematic experience - which, don't get me wrong, FEMINA RIDENS certainly delivers - I spent the next several days in a trance, parsing out the nuances of the film's art-world references, the symbolism of its crazy 60s designs, the remarkable subtleties of the performances, all the while the (apparently highly sought-after) soundtrack echoed in my head. This is the CITIZEN KANE - or, strike that, the F FOR FAKE - of sexploitation. I couldn't recommend this more. Stick with it if you're not convinced at first. (Note: the US DVD looks terrible. Try to get the UK disc from Shameless.)
It could not have come from a different country nor from a different time. This movie simply oozes psychedelia influenced late 60s Italian cinema. So, pseudo serious and sexually free. Sumptuous settings and dreamy music make this a visual and aural delight. Plus we get the lovely Dagmar Lassander, surely at her very best looking. The kinky goings on make for a wild ride and if the romps amidst the Mimosa towards the end seem overlong it is but another rather charming trait of the time. You were probably expected to split those few minutes between the screen and your girlfriend and it does of course herald a twist in the proceedings. It might have been better if Philippe Leroy…
Beguilingly mad Italian psychedelic sleaze. Ultra-swinging 60s design, fabulous soundtrack, a star turn from a charismatic leading lady and a hazy, trippy seriousness ('I'm a believer in reincarnation.' 'Hindu or Pythagorean?') that just makes it all the more daffy and innocent. Several scenes are (perhaps unintentionally) laugh out loud funny - see especially the villain's sex dummy replica of himself. It should all be totally not groovy man but it somehow is.