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Synapse Films presents
Singapore Sling (1990)

"The first time that Mummy and I killed was three years ago. She was a young girl employed as a secretary."
- The Daughter (Meredyth Herold)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 14, 2006

Stars: Meredyth Herold, Panos Thanassoulis, Michele Valley
Director: Nikos Nikolaidis

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, extreme gore, perverse sexuality, nudity, sadomasochistic abuse, incest, highly disturbing imagery, thematic material)
Run Time: 01h:51m:13s
Release Date: May 30, 2006
UPC: 654930305492
Genre: cult


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B C+AB D+

DVD Review

For some reason, Greek movies don't show up on the map of international cinema all that often. And when they manage to do so, they tend to be some of the most extreme pictures ever made. One irredeemable example was the exploitation shocker Island of Death (1975). But even more determinedly grotesque is this 1990 cult offering from director Nikos Nikolaidis that centers on one of the more twisted families outside The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Panos Thanassoulis stars as a detective in search of his long-lost lover Laura. Wounded by a gunshot that is never explained, he stumbles into the household of an unnamed mother and daughter (Michele Valley and Meredyth Herold, respectively), and they nurse him back to health, naming him Singapore Sling after the drink recipe found in his pocket. This demented pair hire employees, then torture and murder them, and Laura was apparently one of their number. Singapore Sling finds himself taking on that role, by force at first, and later with a peculiar submissiveness, if not willingness.

In some respects the film is just a catalogue of visual horrors, starting with the mother and daughter burying their chauffeur alive, to a warped reenactment of Laura's first day with them (complete with incest), to an erotic dinner that turns into a vomitous Roman orgy. The tortures get a little dull after a while, as Nikolaidis keeps piling on the grotesqueries. As a counterpoint to that, however, he also allows Herold to talk to the camera, placidly describing their crimes as she drinks a cup of tea, her forehead smeared with dirt from the chauffeur's grave. Nikolaidis provides some beautiful photography with equally horrifying imagery. The gentle piano and New Agey music provides a similar contrast as Laura is disembowelled, her still-beating heart being dropped on a kitchen counter. She also provides narration onscreen in the past tense while the events she's describing happen, providing a further separation from reality. Odd references are made throughout, such as the adoption of Asimov's laws of robotics as the rules for the family's servants, making the unreal seem familiar. The basic situation is in the same torturous mode as the equally discomfiting Boy Meets Girl.

The principal characters are virtually ciphers, as befits their namelessness. But they also have a demented fascination to them. The daughter's monologues dissolve into twitchy sensuality as she becomes increasingly dissociated. The mother seems to be channeling Gloria Swanson from Sunset Boulevard, while she also starts speaking French when excited. She has a bloodthirstiness to her, but seems slightly less sociopathic than her offspring. Her peculiar accent marks her as someone archly knowing, and evokes memories of Bela Lugosi. While Singapore Sling provides a Spillane-style voiceover, he's rather clueless about what's really happening, until it's far too late for him. The now-deceased father also appears in an incestuous flashback, swathed entirely in mummy wrappings as he deflowers his daughter. It's incredibly peculiar, but at times blackly funny.

The name Laura is not an accident; the 1944 film Laura suffuses the goings-on here from start to finish. The Johnny Mercer/David Raskin theme song recurs throughout, and the daughter continually recites dialogue borrowed from the earlier picture. Nikolaidis' use of black and white to create a modern noir of sorts only emphasizes its connection. But Singapore Sling is no Dana Andrews, and he hardly begins to solve the mystery of his Laura before he is sucked up into the madness. With nearly two hours of atrocities, nearly every minute of which is determined to offend, there should be something here to shock and horrify just about anyone.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen image is incredibly beautiful and detailed, with the black-and-white photography coming through with extreme richness of detail, texture and image depth. The source print is in generally good condition, other than a couple speckles and a few jumpy splices. There is a note from Synapse stating the best available materials included burned-in (but poorly translated) subtitles for the French-dialogue segments. An optional subtitle track covers these subs with an improved translation (though for long stretches they're identical).

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish (with inserts)no


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono track is mostly English, with some Greek inserts. There's somewhat limited range and a mild amount of noise and hiss audible. Perhaps the intention is to mimic the sound as well as the appearance of a 1940s noir; if that's the case, it was quite successful. The weather sound effects are quite realistic, however, and increase the sense of isolation of this warped trio.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:54m:49s

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
Extras Review: The extras are fairly scant; a small gallery of ten stills are supplemented by the trailer, which includes an eruption of disturbing images from the film but no sense of what it's about beyond the catalogue of horrors. It's hard to believe that this was really used to sell the film, but at least it's honest.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

An aggressively appalling cult picture from Greece, with an ironically gorgeous transfer. Not much for extras, but those who are interested should be quite pleased.

 


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