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By Doug Brunell | September 3, 2004

Jess Franco, the “master” of erotic cinema, sets out to do a story about a father’s madness as he and his family live out their last days on an island paradise that is threatened by modern society. It sounds better than what it is.

The story isn’t half bad. Don Martin (Paul Lapidus) has taken his odd family onto a private island called “The Paradise” and has decided that this is where they’ll spend the rest of their lives. The family, however, only stays because of a promise of treasure that Martin has hidden on the island. Unfortunately none of them know if there really is a treasure because Martin has gone insane.

If that were the focus of this movie, it would be getting a better review. Seeing as this is Franco, though, you know there will be more than a little sex and nudity, and that’s where the picture falls apart.

First of all, there isn’t much in the film that is erotic, though you know that is what he was trying for in some scenes. What is there only distracts from the story, which is fairly interesting, though fairly unexplored. Then there’s the problem of dubbing and heavily accented dialogue, which makes it seem like one is watching a film with actors who have suffered brain damage. Again, quite a distraction.

If Franco would’ve avoided the erotic all together, or made the movie a mostly silent bit of erotica, this would have worked far better. He tried to mix the two instead, and the outcome doesn’t offer enough story or erotica to hold viewers’ attention.

Franco can shoot a beautiful movie, and he has a knack for turning out some erotic scenes mixed with imaginative stories. This is a miss, however, and it’s a shame because of the unrealized potential. Consider this for your viewing “pleasure” only if you are a Franco fiend.

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