Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Botas negras, látigo de cuero (Black Boots, Whip of Leather) (1983)

Botas negras, látigo de cuero (Black Boots, Whip of Leather) (1983) stars Lina Romay (under her screen name Candy Coster) and Antonio Mayans (under his screen name Robert Foster) as Al Pereira.  Jess Franco wrote and directed Botas negras and Juan Soler provided the photography.  It is a familiar tale:  detective Al Pereira gets entangled in a web of deceit, lured by a highly seductive woman.
Pereira is about to skip town as he owes quite a bit of money to a local gangster.  He stops packing to open the door whereupon gorgeous Lina enters.  She promises Pereira four thousand pesetas to go to the local scrapyard and retrieve her purse out of the trunk of a yellow Dodge car.  Lina tells him that no one will be there and she will wait for him while he competes the job.  The offer is too good to refuse, and Pereira accepts.  At the scrapyard, he finds the purse but is accosted by two armed men.  With a couple of karate moves and point-blank bullets, Pereira kills the two assailants.  Back at his apartment, now suspicious of the woman’s motives, Pereira questions her, but Lina maintains her innocence.  Overcome with emotion, the two fuck.  At the conclusion, Lina tells Pereira to come and see her at the cabaret, where she is a performer, called the Whip of Leather.  Pereira meets Lina at the club and they agree to have a secret rendezvous.  At a lakeside scene at sunrise, the two meet and fuck again.  Afterwards, Lina reveals to Pereira that her husband runs a gambling/prostitution/drug ring and shares his profits with a handful of partners.  If Pereira were to kill them all off, he and Lina could share in the profits alone.  Would he do it?  Pereira takes the bait.
Juan Soler’s photography is not particularly flashy: the compositions comprise mostly close-ups which actually works in the favor of Botas negras.  Franco’s screenplay for Botas negras, additionally, is not really strong, but again, like the photography, it works in the favor of the film.  The story truly focuses on the characters of Lina and Pereira; and for anyone who is a fan of Romay and Foster, each is truly at the peak of her/his ability.  “The Homecoming Films,” the films that Jess Franco made upon his return to Spain in the late seventies and early eighties, are not particularly valued by Franco’s critics or as well-seen by his fans, who, in general, prefer his sixties and seventies output.  I have always had a fondness for this period in Franco’s career:  there is such a diversity in his filmography, ranging from adult films to his haunting, poetic cinema, like Macumba Sexual (1981).  Botas negras would fall in the middle of that spectrum:  there is a heavy dose of sex within but the story leans more towards a mainstream, commercial appeal.  I also really enjoy Lina Romay in her “Candy Coster” guise (with her signature blonde wig):  now in her late twenties, Romay is a veteran actress; and in Botas negras is extremely sexy.  The crux of Botas negras relies upon her performance:  not only does Romay’s character have to seduce Foster’s Pereira but the audience.  At the lakeside, morning seduction scene, Lina seduces Foster by only opening her coat:  she needs little mystique in her eroticism.  Romay could have any man she wants.  Like Romay, Antonio Mayans (Foster) is a veteran actor and is one of the most handsome men with whom Franco has ever worked.  There is a cheap charm to his karate-chop action sequences, but Foster plays an obsessive Pereira to perfection.  This duo is, by far, one of the best with whom Franco had the ability to film.  The stripped-down qualities of both the photography and the screenplay allow them to shine. 

Botas negras, látigo de cuero is really for fans of Romay and Foster.  Especially Lina Romay.  The cheapness and predictable story will keep most away, but for the seasoned fan of Jess Franco, they are hardly a deterrent.


Alex B. said...

Look who's back!

Hans A. said...

Thanks Alex for taking a look! Now that things have settled down, I hope to write and publish more. By the way, after I finish work, I'm going to watch your new film on YouTube.

Alex B. said...

It´s great to have you back!
I´m going to email you a link to my very lastest film.