Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Singapore Sling (1990)

Directed by Nikos Nikolaidis
Starring Panos Thanassoulis, Meredyth Herold, Michele Valley

"Do what she says. Hit me, Singapore Sling."

Being equal parts film noir, pitch black comedy, horror, and sadomasochistic scat film, Nikos Nikolaidis's Singapore Sling is quite the odd beast of a movie.

The plot as such revolves around a detective (played by Panos Thanassoulis), referred to only as Singapore Sling, who is looking for his missing love, Laura. His search leads him to a secluded villa where he believes that she may be. But, to make matters more complicated, the detective has been wounded by a bullet and needs help.

Unfortunately, his "help" comes in the form of "Daughter" (played by Meredyth Herold) - a giddy, child-like maniac who lost her virginity to her father (who happens to be a mummy) and has a vomit fetish - and "Mother" (played by Michele Valley), a gypsy-like character who sports a strap-on dildo and enjoys giving golden showers.

Upon taking the wounded detective in, they waste no time in making his life a living hell. Strapping him to a bed, they proceed to torture him in many outrageous and disturbing ways. Daughter teases him, rides him and vomits on his face. Mother straps an electrocution device on his head and shocks him as she rides him to her own writhing orgasm as he convulses in agony - much like a human vibrator, and urinates on him. And this is just the beginning of his troubles.

Much of the exposition is told in voice-over narration by Singapore Sling himself and through fourth wall breaking monologues from Daughter and Mother. Although much of what is revealed doesn't really help to give us a clear idea of what is going on besides the obvious, the stories and reflections are still a pleasure (if that is the proper word) to witness.

Apparently, the film is largely a tribute to the 1944 film Laura, which I have never seen myself. From my personal view, I see Singapore Sling, superficially, as a demented mash-up of Grey Gardens, Spiderbaby and Misery. Although there are intended nods to many different films, I do not believe that having prior knowledge of them is at all essential to viewing this film as a standalone project. I actually think that having knowledge of the influences of Singapore Sling would have the result of cheapening the film by making it appear less original than it really is.

Released by Synapse Films, the image is crisp and clean and the audio is clear and dynamic. My one complaint is in the subtitling department. The print that Synapse received had hardcoded subtitles for the lines that are in Greek, but not all of the Greek was translated on that version. Instead of adding subtitles in those areas, Synapse overlaid a large grey box over the original subtitles so that they could replace them with improved translations. The problem with this is that the box takes up half the screen and really takes away from the film. Fortunately, Synapse has given two options: the original subtitled version and their "new and improved" version. Although not all of the lines in the original are represented, I highly suggest that on your initial viewing that you use the original and if you later want to see the translated lines, try the big block version. Other than that minor quibble, Synapse did a great job with this.

In a world where anything you want or do not want to see is available to you through the internet, it is still surprising to find something that can have a disarming effect on you, and Singapore Sling is one of those things. Highly arousing, cringingly disgusting and laugh outloud funny (depending on your tastes, of course), Singapore Sling offers up something I have never seen before and I am a better person for it. Thank you.

- Jeremy Vaca

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