Reviewed bylor_Vote: /10
No accounting for taste, but this ludicrous Joe Sarno film fails inboth the porn and fantasy/suspense realms. I've watched it severaltimes, and have yet to be hypnotized by its nonsensical plot &direction.
Quite bluntly, it's about getting even, with an indigestible dollop offake-spiritualism and mumbo jumbo added. Had Sarno gone for a morestraightforward (and appropriate) voodoo plot line, I suspect fanswould have rejected it outright.
Instead he has blonde heroine Carla (Patricia McNair, appearing using apseudonym and punished with 9th billing) bamboozled by her co-workerEnid (tall but unattractive Carol Holleck) to become mixed up with Cultof Pan leader Martha (big-bosomed Helena Clayton). (This is hardly atthe level of classic fantasy writing on the subject by Arthur Machen.)It's established early on, killing suspense stone dead, that Martha isusing her retarded brother as part of the Quarter Moon rituals held byscantily clad priestesses of the cult. Of course there's abrother/sister incest scene inserted (but tame) by Sarno, as is hiswont.
Ridiculous fantasy involves an aphrodisiac, one of Sarno's lamest andmost oft-used plot ploys. In this case it becomes a fantasy motif.Carla is angry with her relatives who repress her, Aunt Julie (BellaDonna, equally lousy in Sarno's MY BODY HUNGERS) and Julie's daughter(her cousin) Tracey (blank 1-shot thesp "Laura London"). She usesMartha's magic potion to turn them into uncontrollable nymphomaniacs.
Key element, and you have to be a card-carrying Sarno sycophant to buyit, is the title roses (black & white hardly does them justice), whichare not just the cult's chief fetish but the nympho trigger. They aredelivered like clockwork to the victims, triggering the unquenchablelust in conjunction with the aphrodisiac potion. They also come inhandy at the rituals, for sexual stimulation by rubbing them all overthe woman designated as Pan's chosen one, after drinking the wine ofDelphi. I much prefer Sarno's explicit lesbian dramas to thissublimation approach.
Watching this asinine nonsense, mainly played with a straight face,though fortuneteller Martha occasionally recites cliché howlers like"It was in the cards" or "The moon waits for no one", is a chore. I'mnot sure whether RED ROSES qualifies as high camp or low camp, but anadaptation for the stage by Charles Busch might be in the cards.
The scenes of aunt and daughter going sexually mad are not titillatingbut merely stupid, as they attack the rose-delivery-men with a "mefirst" attitude. Incest between the two is also implied, this being aSarno film. For ultra-cheapness, the first delivery boy is played bythe film's assistant gaffer! Also cheap is the use of a crummy librarymusic score, and basically two under-dressed sets: the dim-lit ceremonyroom where the gals get freaky with nights of wine & roses, and thedesultory apartment where Carla's family lives. Supposedly ironicending has little impact -Sarno could have taken a few lessons fromWilliam Castle before treading on his suspense "shocker" territory.
Reviewed byMichael_ElliottVote: /10
Red Roses of Passion (1966)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Carla (Laurene Clair) is a sexually unsatisfied woman and a lot of itis due to the fact that she lives with an uptight aunt who seeseverything as a sin. Carla's luck changes when she has a tarot cardreader (Helena Clayton) introduce her to a group of Pan worshipers.
Joe Sarno's RED ROSES OF PASSION is a fairly interesting movie thatfans of his will certainly want to check out. I must admit that I findSarno's work to be extremely hit and miss and I've probably had moremisses at this point of my time viewing his films. With that said,there's no doubt in my mind that the man had talent and I often tip myhat to the fact that he was trying to do something more artful than thetypical sexploitation movies out there during this period.
Sarno's work mixes arts with sex and nudity and this film is certainlya beautiful one to look at. The B&W cinematography by Anthony Lover wasexception terrific and I was shocked to see that this here was actuallyhis first of a very few number of films. The cinematography perfectlycaptures the mood and spirit of the film and there's no question thatit helps with the strange and surreal atmosphere. It's also worthnoting to fans of cult cinema that the editor here was David Durston,the same man who would later direct films like I DRINK YOUR BLOOD andTHE BLUE SEXTET.
As far as the performances go, for the most part I enjoyed all of them.There's no question that the one thing lacking in Sarno's corner werethat he didn't have "A" list talents like the filmmaker he apparentlymost wanted to be and that was Ingmar Bergman. With that said, Ithought the cast was good here and especially Clair in the role of thesexually held back woman. The film certainly drags in a few spots andit doesn't hold your attention as one would have wished but RED ROSESOF PASSION is still worth watching.
A man-hungry suburban woman feels frustrated since she lives in the home of her prudish aunt and cousin, who interrupt and criticise her amorous liaisons. A co-worker brings her to a tarot-card reader, who introduces her to a club of women who meet occasionally to share an intoxicating brew, tease each other erotically with long-stemmed roses and honour the heathen god Pan. The occultist manages to corrupt the aunt and cousin, and lure the woman into full-fledged membership so she might participate in its climactic ritual.