In 1969 Jess Franco got into the spy game with a double feature of sexy espionage romps titled Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me Monster. The films follow the Red Lips Detective Agency and their flirtatious efforts to thwart criminal behavior. Starring Janine Raynaud and Rosanna Yanni, the films are more about the hilarious hijinks of the beautiful actresses rather than coherent storytelling. With new 4k scans and a dedicated disc of bonus features this Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome is Highly Recommended.
“What is it that INTERPOL needs? A kiss!”
Regina (Rosanna Yanni, Count Dracula’s Great Love) and Diana (Janine Reynaud, Libido: The Urge to Love) are the Two Undercover Angels in this Eurospy romp which hopes to combine the appeal of international espionage and sexy ladies having fun. Using their innate feminine qualities, The Red Lips Detective Agency solves their convoluted cases by duping men with their bodies. Here the ladies are hired to track down a missing model named Lida whose likeness shows up in an art exhibit. It’s all fun and games until a werewolf man shows up and the ladies are met with more than they desired.
Details like names are secondary to the ogling of the women, the dancers, and the romantic ramblings of the men who are obsessed with these women. Scenes barely end before uptempo jazz plays over a go-go dancer or we cut to the girls in the tub. A product of the early James Bond era, Franco works with his typical exploitative style with small bits indicating the future master of sleaze with the Morpho werewolf character. The film offers barely a plot but plenty of gorgeous things to admire from the actresses and the scenery.
The follow-up Kiss Me Monster is a cobbled-together sequel that picks up where the last one left off. Franco recycles some footage, gives you less plot, but provides more eye candy than the first film. Win, win? Unfortunately, there are no werewolves here but you do get a hooded cult and an island paradise filled with lesbian virgins. Arriving back home after their previous mission the ladies are met with a murdered violinist who delivers the message “the black devil is under the red sea”. Soon the two are traveling to the Mediterranean on a mission to decipher the convoluted clues. Strip teases, occultists, and dance parties pad the film giving us plenty to look at but very little to understand.
The two productions are a remake of Franco’s failed 1960 effort Labios Rojos which didn’t get a proper release at the time. After his successful 1968 film Succubus AKA: Necronomicon he had the financial stability and support to remake Red Lips. His inspiration was within the Bob Hope road comedies and the hijinks of Abbott and Costello. When combined with the popular spy genre of the time the director had something that would appeal to international audiences. Unfortunately in 1972 Americans on 42nd street were probably confused at seeing the comedy antics of two women rather than the sleazy affair promised by the original title Sadist Erotica.
Janine Reynaud’s early career as a fashion model influenced her sense of poise and movement throughout these movies. Watch how she holds herself in those slinky dresses or moves across a room. Rosanna Yanni is far better at the comedic elements, especially when tasked with using her feminine wiles to seduce men. It’s clear in both films that Franco wants Janine to be the brains of the operations with Rosanna the body. A glaring issue as Rosanna can clearly handle herself in both avenues. Their performances are fun as they move effortlessly through the scenes without a care in the world. Supporting actors are in on the jokes but still provide committed performances. When combined with the outrageous go-go set design and the beautiful locations there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me Monster arrive in a 2-disc Blu-ray package thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. The features disc loads the VS logo before landing on the Feature Select Menu screen with a raucous scene playing behind the navigation options. The extra features disc loads directly to the Select Screen.
Both Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me Monster are presented here in new 4k scans of the 35mm negatives in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratios. Vinegar Syndrome has provided excellent HD transfers for both films that are full of vibrant color and fine detail. For comparison you can check out the SD Spanish versions on the bonus features disc.
Two Undercover Angels features a colorful HD image with stable grain levels but dirt, lines, and specks are prevalent. Fine detail is apparent in facial features and period costuming. Black levels are superb with inky blacks in shadow and costuming. Colors are dynamic and bright within costuming and the various pop art pieces featured. with contrast levels riding high at times. Nighttime scenes offer some detail without noise in the image. Image stability is questionable at times.
Kiss Me Monster unleashes a bright and detailed HD image featuring stable grain levels which presents a pleasing film-like presentation. Fine detail is prominent in facial features and costuming especially when the girls are relaxing on the beach. Bright primary colors pop with the swinging 60’s costumes and settings. Black levels suffer from ocassional noise in darkened interiors like the ruins where the woman is found dead.
Previous home video versions include a 2016 two-disc set from Blue Underground titled “Red Lips Double Feature” which pales in comparison to this excellent release from Vinegar Syndrome. Collectors should upgrade to this release without question.
Two Undercover Angels leaps into service with a solid 1.0 DTS-HD MA audio track. Dubbed dialogue is clear as day but always runs hot. The German audio track is a bit more refined than the English dub. Effects and scoring are presented clearly though the uptempo jazz scoring peaks too often especially with high brass hits and cymbal work.
The 1.0 DTS-HD MA audio track for Kiss Me Monster uses dubbed dialogue that is very clear but runs hot often. Switching to the German audio track yields better fidelity overall. Effects and scoring are clearly presented with the hip jazz tracks a bit restrained compared to the first feature.
Vinegar Syndrome gives us an entire disc of special features for the Red Lips Double Feature extravaganza! Start with the Stephen Thrower interview before moving through the other featurettes.
Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me Monster are two sexy Eurospy romps that care very little about plot and plenty about cashing in on the growing spy genre thanks to one Mr. Bond. Jess Franco is having fun throwing in various genre elements to satisfy curious audiences looking to see sexy secret agents in peril. While it doesn’t carry the sadist or erotic elements of his better known works it’s great to see him playing around with the format.
Vinegar Syndrome brings the two films to Blu-ray with an excellent A/V package including new 4k scans of the features that look incredible. As expected the boutique label has provided some striking artwork for the release as well as a whole disc of new and archival bonus features making this Red Lips Double Feature Highly Recommended.