Well, last week’s launch of Lina Romay Month was bonkers, huh?
Well, buckle up, kiddos… This week’s B-Movie Enema is Sinfonia Erotica. Another Jess Franco/Lina Romay joint. Another Marquis de Sade story turned into a filthy little Spanish movie. However, what are we looking at in terms of “filthy”?
Will this be like last week? Well, that’s hard to say. In Cries of Pleasure, about half the movie was full of our main sex weirdos completely nude and doing various sex with each other. I’m pretty close to 100% sure there was actual sex being performed during the filming. While we didn’t see the actual penetration like we did in some of the past adult films I’ve covered on here before, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
What might be key to note here is the year in which Cries of Pleasure or Sinfonia Erotica were release.
While Two Female Spies in Flowered Panties was saucy as fuck, it wasn’t much more than a sexy James Bond movie. Cries of Pleasure was something completely different. It was straight out pornography without actual sexual bits penetrating and being penetrated – at least on screen. I will wager that Sinfonia Erotica will lean more toward the former rather than the latter. I’m not sure it will be JUST like Two Female Spies, but, again, we have to look at those dates.
Around 1983, Franco’s career did take a bit of a down turn. It wasn’t helped by some of his movies, like Oasis of the Zombies, not performing well. He shifted gears and started doing much more outright pornographic movies. Cries of Pleasure was probably in the transition phase of going down that path. Sinfonia Erotica is prior to that transition. We’ll see tits, ass, and bush, but we probably won’t quite get to even some of the levels of simulated and real sex of Cries of Pleasure.
I should also mention that this is a first dive into a corner of exploitation called “nunsploitation”. I do not think this was a creation of Franco’s, or any one director for that matter, but yes… This movie does play to some of the fetishization of a nun doubting her commitment, exploring her sexuality, and doing dirty, dirty things. Don’t forget, this is still a Marquis de Sade story. So, yeah, a nun being debased isn’t something we should bat an eye at.
So, let’s stop talking bullshit and find out if I’m right!
Alright… So this is called Sinfonia Erotica, which translates to English as Erotic Symphony. I’m not disappointed yet because, sure enough, there is a beautiful classical piece that is playing as a beautiful woman, Martine (Romay), is being brought home in a carriage. Brought home from where? Well, the asylum, where else?
Yeah, this is another tale like last week’s. Woman is coming home to a libertine man. That libertine man has desires and other paramours. He also has a nefarious plan for his lovely wife. I think the primary difference will be that we’re following Lina Romay’s point of view as the crazy person coming home as opposed to being part of the overall plan. Oh, and this is a period piece as opposed to the previous entry on the blog.
Martine asks her maid, Wanda, if her husband, Marquis Armando de Bressac, is home. This gives Wanda an excellent opportunity to remind us that, yes, this is a Marquis de Sade story.
I’m in no way saying that there’s anything odd about two men “seeing” each other lately. Oh no, not at all. I’m a fervent supporter and ally of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s not the reminder that I referred to. It’s the word “young”. The Marquis’ new boy toy he’s been seeing “lately” is a teenage boy. Wanda says that this young man, Flor, is a distinguished dude, but that he’s got questionable manners. In fact, the Marquis has been seen with a handful of people with questionable morality as of late.
Martine is then struck with some flashbacks of voices in her head discussing a young man’s form and how the male voice says he likes how his mouth looks like a pussy “inviting him to unknown pleasures.” The voice then shifts to her saying the same things.
We then fade to the Marquis chasing Flor around the fields. Flor looks of age, but he’s kind of dressed like those old paintings of European school boys. I think, between the attire of a school boy, and the fact that he’s playing tag or whatever with the Marquis, we’re supposed to believe he is younger. Like… Maybe not of age yet?
The two men happen upon a nun lying on the trail/road. She’s bloodied and unconscious. They aren’t so sure what to do with her, but agree it is bad form to not help a nun. Also, one of them decides to take a looksee to find that she’s bleeding as if she’s been raped before being dumped here. They take her to the mansion of the Marquis to try to help.
While they take a look at her, including feeling her some more, Wanda tells Martine more about the Marquis’ behavior while she was away. Basically, he’s been fucking everything that moves. Wanda says that Flor has dragged the Marquis through some terrible scandals and the like. She also wants Martine to speak to her husband and rein him in. The only problem that Martine sees in that is that the Marquis hasn’t even greeted her since coming home.
Meanwhile, Flor and the Marquis sexually assault this nun. They also say that they would be more than happy to return her to the convent. When she reacts negatively to that idea, then it’s settled that she has to stay there at the mansion and basically be a slave to their desires. This movie is pretty gross.
While that is going on, Wanda still pleads with Martine to speak some sense into the Marquis. The problem is that she doesn’t really have the will to fight. She’s broken and sad, and a woman in love, but there’s no place for that love to go to be reciprocated. She knows he stuffed her into the asylum to basically get rid of her. She’s still trapped and in love with him, though, and it’s broken her. Basically left without receiving desire from the Marquis, Martine is left to imagine being with him to relieve her desires.
That is an interesting take in this first quarter of the film. Here’s a woman who loved her husband. However, the husband was more interested in indulging in untold carnal desires. He sends her away to an asylum to rid himself of her. This kind of succeeds in driving her crazy. She’s now stuck wanting the person she really kind of can’t have. The Marquis has basically moved on because he derives excitement from being in a gay relationship with Flor. He and Flor both have libertine beliefs and lifestyles and continues to push those boundaries together. Martine is just a girl and that sex is probably pretty vanilla.
Ew, am I right?
Martine decides she wants to go to the Marquis, kneel before him, and beg for love from him. She goes to find him, and discovers he and Flor doing a sex. She hides from them, but the Marquis knows she saw. He basically tells her she ain’t getting shit from him. He tells her if she’s horny, then she should go find Wanda because she’ll consent to anything. They laugh and continue on as Martine flees.
She goes to a room in which the pretty young woman named Norma is sleeping. Norma, the nun brought home earlier by the Marquis and Flor, is startled when she wakes to see Martine. She asks Norma if she’s ever made love before. Norma says yes. Martine decides she wants to have sex with Norma – whether Norma wants to or not. Norma begs for her to not continue because it’s a sin and all that shit, but that doesn’t stop the lady of the house. She throws up Norma’s nightgown and just goes for it. At first, Norma is not into it, but she eventually gives in. The Marquis and Flor come in to watch, but eventually rips Martine away from Wanda, calling her a skank, roughing her up, etc. All the while, Martine begs for the Marquis to make love to her, but they take her to another room and apparently torture her or rape her or both – it’s a tad unclear. It’s not great sounds coming from the other room they took Martine to, I can say that for the least.
The next morning, Norma brings Martine breakfast in bed. Martine apologizes for being so mean to her the night before. Norma plays this off by saying, “What are you talking about? I was deeply asleep all night.” Ultimately, they agree that they will have their secrets that no one will know about. Martine also explains she hasn’t been well so… like, sorry?
Later, Martine’s doctor comes by to see how she’s doing. The Marquis called him and said she had another nervous breakdown. Martine is relatively unresponsive to his questions. Instead, she’s just playing her piano. He asks whether or not she’s faced any hostility since being home. He also confirms that if she has another breakdown like this, the Marquis will have all the excuse he needs to toss her into the asylum again.
Allow me to say here at about the halfway point of the movie that I strongly believe this movie is much, much better than Cries of Pleasure. Cries of Pleasure focused heavily on the debauchery while Sinfonia Erotica has debauchery, but has, thus far, decided to focus more on the relationships and the cruelty of the debauchery. I think both movies kind of have a thesis statement to make:
Libertine lifestyle does have a bunch of cool sex shit, but the people who live that kind of life are really bad people.
Check it… In Cries of Pleasure, the plan from the start, regardless of whose plan you wish to look at, was for there to be a murder committed. Whether it was Martina or Antonio, one of them was going to be killed at the hands of the other, plus Julia. Along the way, though, there was going to be lots of sex. Also, Marta is straight up murdered too. In Sinfonia Erotica, you have a similar thing going on. MartinE has returned home from an asylum, like MartinA did in the other movie. The main difference, though, is that Martine doesn’t want to commit crime from the outset, but she’s now sharing her home and her husband with someone just as cruel, or possibly more so, than the Marquis himself. Flor and the Marquis de Bessac are really, really bad people.
So, my belief stands firm. I really do think that Jess Franco is interested in what the Marquis de Sade wrote in his lifetime. He may even be curious about the libertine lifestyle. But he’s made a couple movies here that sure do feel like he has something very negative to say about the lifestyle itself. He’s used that interest, curiosity, and crafted a script that does nothing but help prove that these people can be envied for the amount of crazy ass sex they have, but you do not want to basically “sell your soul” to be one of these people and treat others like holes to stick your ding-a-ling into as opposed to actual people.
Not only that, at some point, you may become a murderer, or the murdered.
The Marquis stops the doctor and asks him about some of the notes that were made. Basically, any strong mental or physical emotion or she might die. The Marquis asks if that extends to sex. The doctor says it would. The Marquis then asks if she were to experience one of these intense emotions and dies, and the doctor’s diagnosis was known, would that lead to the Marquis being charged with negligence. The doctor says it would.
These are things that the Marquis doesn’t like to hear about. You see, he wants to be rid of his wife so he can continue to do his bat shit insane libertine stuff. He tells the doctor that he does suspect she will die soon. He then reminds him how his father pulled the doctor’s poor father out of poverty which allowed this doctor, whose name is George, to start his practice and so forth. This is why George did agree to place Martine into the asylum for 8 months without pay. The Marquis doesn’t really care about that. He only cares that if Martine dies, he expects the doctor to keep his initial diagnosis a secret – or he’ll ruin George.
That night at dinner, in front of Norma and Flor, the Marquis decides to fuck around with Martine to humiliate her. He first talks about how she seems like the perfect wife on the outside with her alabaster skin and demure looks, but how quickly that can rot from the inside out. Then, he explains that she’s insane and subject to mental breakdowns because of genital syphilis. He then pulls down her dress to expose her breasts while the others laugh at her. She excuses herself.
It’s bizarre that even the nun is now twisted and getting involved with the teasing and so forth. She’s also willingly participating in three way sex with the Marquis and Flor. They plot and plan to get rid of Martine by killing her. She’s seduced by the sex and the riches that will come once Martine is gone. He explains to Norma that she is to poison Martine, but not with an actual poison, but a stimulant that will excite Martine and drive her over the edge to kill her. Norma is to sneak it into Martine’s morning milk as she brings the breakfast to her. However, outside the Marquis’ sex room, Wanda overhears the plan.
As Martine struggles to control her sexual desires and activity, and with the knowledge that the Marquis plans to kill his wife, Wanda plans to visit George at his sanitorium. George kind of sticks to his agreement with the Marquis despite compelling evidence from Wanda that the Marquis is a massive asshole.
Back at the house, the Marquis feels pretty confident that Wanda will find no help from the doctor. Norma has some second thoughts and some regrets for how her life has kind of gone lately. Flor goes to speak to her and explains himself to her. He’s not really had much compassion or feelings for anyone for a long time. His father was the one that called him Flor as a joke. When he was a little kid, his father would dress him up as a girl and it seems that his father and his father’s friends would sexually abuse Flor. He’s been confused for a long time, but there’s one thing he and Norma are not confused about – they have fallen in love with each other.
Flor still wants Norma to go through with killing Martine. With her out of the way, then, eventually, they could break free from the Marquis. While they love each other, they also confess their deep down feelings of hatred for the Marquis.
Meanwhile, in another room of the house, Martine does some reminiscing about how the Marquis used to play with her boobs before breaking down into a cackling fit like a crazy person.
Things are getting fairly hairy around the home of the Marquis de Bressac. Martine is feeling herself up while laughing like she’s so far out of her mind, she’s floating in space. The two underlings of the Marquis have fallen in love which surely doesn’t bode well for the youngsters. The Marquis goes to Wanda’s room and murders her for trying to get help from the doctor. After dropping Wanda’s body off at the entrance to Martine’s room to see her, she faints.
Well, it turns out George is not a completely terrible doctor. He visits Martine and tells her that he knows Wanda went missing and that the word on the street is that the Marquis probably killed her. He quickly tells her that it is about time to follow the plans they put into place. It turns out that George is quite upset with the Marquis for how he’s ruined Martine. He wants her to kill the Marquis in revenge for how she’s been treated.
But uh-oh… Norma has delivered some milk and slipped her that stimulant. That doesn’t stop Martine from wanting that milk with a side of muff, and decides to go diving. As she does, Flor and the Marquis come into the room to join in with the sexy happy fun time games. So, here goes the plan. Give Martine the stimulant. Get her nice and horny. Then come in and do the sex as a big orgy to send her over the cliff into Deathsville. Right as it was all getting to that inevitable climax, she appears to have a heart attack and keels over.
Considering there is still like 15 minutes of actual movie left, I’m going to assume there’s more to do here. The trio of killers stand over Martine’s body laughing and fake lamenting “Poor Martine!” while I guess they count the ways they will spend her enormous fortune that will now solely belong to the Marquis. The Marquis soon realizes how in love Flor and Norma appear to be. That night while the two lovers sex each other up, the Marquis finds a sword, enters their room, and runs them both through like he’s trying out to be Jason Voorhees.
The Marquis weeps over his lost lovers and being left completely alone. However, there is someone walking the halls – Martine. Apparently she isn’t dead after all. Indeed, she faked her death. She enters the room and the Marquis believes that she’s returned from hell to see him at his lowest. She says, “Uh, yeah! I did come back to life! And now, I want you to pay for being a dick!” She takes the sword from him and he pretty much tells her to go and do it to get it over with. So she stabs him in the throat killing him.
George is waiting for Martine and tells her he will cover everything up for her. They will run away together with all her money and she will soon forget the sad story she lived through.
If we were to look at the two films that kicked off this Lina Romay Month theme, we’d see the two facets of the Marquis de Sade. Or at least that’s how I see it. Cries of Passion is the sadistic and deeply sexual side of the Marquis, right? It was just straight out debauchery. It was all the bored lifestyle of a rich libertine who had nothing to do but try to find the limits of pleasure and pain and what have you. It really turned out to be about an hour long sex scene after spending about 20 minutes of setting the stage.
Then, there’s Sinfonia Erotica. It’s pretty much the same story. Woman sent to an asylum. She’s returned, and there’s a plan by the libertine husband to be rid of the rich wife and take off with his new lovers. That’s turned around on him though and it proves to be his undoing. Now, there’s obviously more detail than that as you’ve seen above, but it’s basically the same story, but told more from a narrative way. The Marquis de Sade was an author too. He wrote these erotic stories that Franco used for his movies. There’s an actual basis for these movies. I feel like this one takes much more advantage of the author and not what the man stood for and would be best known for. Sure, there’s still a lot of nudity and sex scenes and all that good stuff, but Sinfonia Erotica is much more narratively tight.
And yeah, that’s a good thing.
While I can say with certainty that I do quite like watching Lina Romay writhe around and touch herself and play with her boobs, it does say something when you can actually include a narrative that actually attempts to get stuff done. I feel like that’s what we’ll have next week as well. We’re going back a few years to the mid 70s with Alice Arno and Lina Romay in The Hot Nights of Linda which just has a title that begs me to cover it. Be sure to be right back here in one week for that.
Also, why not go over to the B-Movie Enema YouTube channel. There, you can find the first season of B-Movie Enema: The Series. You’ll also find several clips that I pull when I need some extra help fully describing something crazy. Also, check out the site’s Facebook page as well as Twitter too!
See you next week, Enemaniacs!
2 thoughts on “Sinfonia Erotica (1980)”
Cool review, as always. Thanks for perking up my Fridays.
Since you’ve been covering De Sade related films lately, any chance of a review of Salo? I know it doesn’t have Lina Romay, but there is shit eating, so it’s got that going for it.
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Possibly. I am quite aware of that thanks to the Snob, but I’ve never come across it. Of course I could maybe also do a whole shit-eating theme month and bring in Divine and Waters.