Crimson (The Man with the Severed Head) 1976
Las ratas no duermen de noche (original title)
Director: Juan Fortuny
Starring: Paul Naschy, Silvia Solar, Olivier Mathot, Gilda Arancio, Claude Boissen, Carlos Otero
Out NOW on UK DVD from Black House Films
A gang of four criminals lead by Henry (Mathot) is attempting to rob a jewelry store when it all goes hilariously wrong. One of Henry’s flunkies (I don’t know which- the one with glasses) steals a pearl necklace, setting off the alarm. The robbers flee and end up in a shootout with police during which their safe cracker Surnett (Naschy) is shot in the head. Unable to take him to a hospital the thieves call on a local drunk ex-doctor who makes his living patching up the local criminals. Dr Ritter (Otero)doesn’t have the skills to operate so he suggests that his old friend a mad scientist can patch up Surnett. Well to fix Surnett all the mad scientist needs is- another brain! And whose brain do they get? Another gangster by the name of The Sadist. Well that sounds like a recipe for fun. After installing part of the Sadist’s brain in Surnett, he turns into a mad rapist what rapes three women.
I’m not even sure where to start with Crimson. The jaunty 1970’s jazz flute that plays over the rape for titillation scenes? The fact that it has not one but FOUR rape for titillation scenes. The ridiculously incompetent criminals? The utter lack of even an attempt at science? The fact that apparently, Crimson is originally in Spanish but dubbed in French? Decisions, decisions…
Let’s start with the science and that word, in the context of this film requires sarcastic air quotes. First of all Surnett barely looks injured, as though the bullet only grazed his skull, or as if the film didn’t have money for fake blood. SECONDLY how on earth is a brain transplant EASIER than brain surgery to remove a bullet? THIRDLY the Mad Scientist says, after examining an x-ray, that the bullet didn’t penetrate the brain. SO WHY ARE WE DOING A BRAIN TRANSPLANT?! And why do I care? Believe me, I tried to let it go. But there is only so much suspension of disbelief one can take. Even films like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die make a vague stab in the general direction of science, but not Crimson, NO, it couldn’t be bothered with such pettiness as logic or even watching an episode of say M*A*S*H.
Incompetent criminals. Stealing a necklace during a safe robbery and tripping a secondary alarm system is only the beginning for Henry’s boys. The real hilarity comes when they trap and kill The Sadist. They have been ordered to bring back The Sadist’s head. And they take that mission both seriously and literally. After attempt one at decapitation fails they try plan B which works. Hint– it involves a train. When The Sadist’s gang finds out their boss is dead they go on a rampage of poorly organized vengeance.
And finally, the rape. OK, this is a film from the 70s. This is a film from France (possibly Spain). I knew what I was in for. What was surprising was the amount of boobage and the amount of rape for titillation. Like wow…insert slow clap here. Not one female character escapes the film un-raped with the possible exception of The Sadist’s evil girlfriend Barabara (Evelyn Scott) who is molested by Surnett post brain transplant when he is basically half-Sadist and she seems to have feelings for him. Anyway, there aren’t just breasts on display there is full frontal female nudity, which is present in such quantity that it is an actual “Plot Keyword” on IMDb. There are also the mysterious disappearing-reappearing clothing. Because who want to spend valuable rape time getting women’s clothing off when you can just cut to full nudity. This also applies to getting clothing back on. Don’t think it’s just lady buttocks that appear. There are at least two flabby man-asses the audience is treated to.
So, what actual language is this film in? Was it dubbed from Spanish into French? Was it just a Spanish production filmed in France? I don’t know. It was subtitled in English which was good enough for me.
Crimson pure 70s sleaze and cheeze. It’s easy to riff on and laugh at and impossible to take seriously. But watch with caution. Because, you know, rape.
Kudos for: Professor Teets
Lesson learned: It’s not brain surgery.