by Eric J Baker
I am not God, which irritates me considerably. I know I’d be a lot better than the one currently popular. My godship would promote more sex and less guilt, and I’d let you eat as much as you want without getting fat. I’d also introduce another big change: Goddesses. Lots and lots of them. Seriously, why don’t we have any goddesses? Given how obsessed he is with marriage, you’d think God would at least have a girlfriend. You know what? I bet he’s gay.
Since I’m not God, I can’t do anything about the back injury that’s kept me home from work the past couple of days. What I can do to pass the time in this incapacitated state, though, is indulge my taste for ‘60s and early ‘70s European cinema. And in the course of catching up with some of these films, I’ve fallen in love – not for the first time – with German-born beauty Elke Sommer. If I were to start making goddesses for my godship, I’d have a pretty good template there.
Elke Sommer had the closest thing possible to a perfect body, from those elegant sticks on up to her thick blond mane. I just watched her in Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil, a dreamlike fantasy film from 1973 in which she stars opposite Telly Savalas, whom I increasingly resemble with each passing year. I know you’re thinking, “Whoa, dude,” but I’m just going to go with it. Who loves ya, baby?
Allow me to digress into the so-called exploitation of women in these films for minute, since Americans are so uptight about sex and the female body in particular: Sommer, like most European actresses, is not afraid of nudity and unashamed of having a beautiful body. A common attribute of these women, beyond their good looks, is the conveyance of confident command over themselves and their craft. None of them seems like a posed doll or a helpless tool, so shut up and hear them roar.
Anyway, Sommer does a gracefully shot nude scene in Lisa, as does one of her co-stars, Slavic beauty Sylva Koscina, also part of my would-be Euro-goddess ensemble.* Before you accuse me of being a philandering deity, my fantasy heaven is poly-amorous, so Elke and Sylva are welcome to build a harem featuring ordinary looking, middle-aged men, of which I am but one. Plus, if you’re too rude to me, I’m going to visit your wife as a glittering shower of gold and give her a bloody good shagging, so watch yourself.
Sylva Koscina was like your friend’s super-hot mom. Somehow, she never seemed to age. At 20, she looked 35, and at 50, she looked 35. She got her start in sword-and sandal epics but, luckily for you and me, migrated over to more contemporary roles. As good as Italian Hercules movies may be, I’d rather sit through a stylish thriller with erotic overtones than a Greco-Roman period adventure performed by a bunch of bearded weightlifters.
Koscina and Sommer also starred together in Deadlier than the Male (1967), one of those James Bond-inspired spy comedies popular in the late ‘60s. Sadly, she died fairly young, but if I predecease my wife – and I probably will because my wife is East Asian and those fuckers live to, like, 110 – I’ll make sure Ms. Koscina isn’t lonely in the afterworld.
Assuming, as a god, I’d have the same powers as our current God and that tradition dictates I be reborn on Earth to a virgin at some point, I would grow up not as a poor carpenter but as Italian actor Franco Nero. This guy got to star opposite many of these lionesses, including gorgeous Silvia Monti in the well-directed thriller The Fifth Cord (1972). There’s no denying he had a way with the ladies. You can’t be that handsome, have that accent, be that badass, and sport that ‘stash without going to the front of the queue right out. Sometimes it’s good to be the emperor.
Meanwhile, back in reality, I also watched Seven Bloodstained Orchids, a 1972 giallo directed by Umberto Lenzi of Make Them Die Slowly infamy. The stunning and regal Marisa Mell plays a dual role as twin sisters, one selfish and bitchy and the other sweet and caring. The sweet one bites it in a gory power-drill murder sequence, which you might call misogynistic, given the phallic imagery… unless you have seen Make Them Die Slowly, in which case you are scarred for life and have forgotten all about the power-drill killing. If you haven’t had the pleasure, one murder sequence in the latter film involves a woman being… ah, never mind. Think nakedness, meat hooks, and slow, agonizing death. That’s misogyny.
Mell, who escaped the misfortune of working with Lenzi in any of his jungle cannibal splatter-fests, is probably best known for her co-starring role in the cult action-comedy Danger: Diabolik from 1968, directed by Mario Bava, the man behind the aforementioned Lisa and the Devil. The actress was Austrian, but her dark complexion led her to be cast in numerous Italian productions until her untimely death in 1991. That, or the Italians simply know a smokin’ hot babe when they see one.
A rote discussion of European cinema goddesses of the 1960s and 1970s must mention Catherine Deneuve, Sophia Loren, and Ursula Andress, but there’s not much to say about them that hasn’t been blathered on about elsewhere, and this is PFC, where we loathe the predictable. Besides, I’ve run out of space and haven’t gotten to cult princesses Edwige Fenech (much prettier than her name), Ingrid Pitt (also much prettier than her name), or Barbara Bouchet yet.
Which is just as well, since my ailing frame is too cramped up to continue typing. Like any good deity, I seem to be suffering for your sins. I’m not judging you though. I hope they were good ones, with lots of rock and roll, drugs, and European sex kittens.
* Both scenes are more gratuitous in the American hack–job version known as House of Exorcism, for which half the movie was excised and replaced with hokey and incongruous demonic possession footage, ostensibly turning it into a horror film but actually turning it into a pile of horse shit.