"You can't wash away the terror."
This second tier giallo from Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust)
turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me.
Oh, it has its problems, as you can guess from the cheesy tag line
OK, I'll be honest. It has a LOT of problems.
Like most of the films in the genre, even some of the best ones,
the plot is nearly impossible to follow. It starts out with a hooker
rejecting her pimp, then moves to a scene where the hooker's sister
finds the pimp dead inside a washing machine and calls the police. Of
course, nothing is as it seems. The police conclude that there never
was a body inside the washing machine at all, and that the sister who
called in the discovery has a few splinters in the windmills of her
mind, so there is really nothing to investigate. The pimp does seem to
have disappeared from the face of the earth, but the scene with the
washing machine was apparently the fantasy or the nightmare of a crazy
Unfortunately for him, the police inspector can't escape the hooker and her
crazy sister. There is also a third sister who has some intriguing
theories of her own about the pimp's murder and/or disappearance. All
three of the sisters seem to have the idea that one of the other
sisters murdered the pimp, and they insist on relaying these theories to
the police inspector at all times of the day and night, whether he is
at home, in his office, or getting some exercise. The three sisters are not only interested in
annoying the inspector, but they all want to seduce him as well. What
makes the film so difficult to follow is that it is never clear to the
viewer whether the action on screen at any given time is supposed to represent reality,
a dream, a hallucination, or a dramatization of one of the sisters'
To tell you the truth, I never did figure out exactly what the
sisters were up to. It had something to do with a suitcase full of
money and jewels, and a master scheme concocted by the pimp to obtain
that suitcase from some drug dealers, but I don't really know exactly
how all the details are supposed to fit together. I lost interest in
the details because the usual wooden dubbing and the semi-incoherent
narrative stepped all over any potential for suspense or mystery, and
I never really took any significant interest in the characters. It's
probably just as well that I didn't pay close attention to the plot,
because it seems like one of those films that makes less sense the
more you study it.
I suppose The Washing Machine must have been a financial
failure because Deodato was never asked to direct another theatrical
feature, and nobody has even made an effort to sell the film on DVD in
North America or Europe. The only edition I could find is an
all-region disc from Thailand.
Why, you may wonder, did I like this confusing giallo?
Two elements made the film worthwhile for me:
The first is idiosyncratic. The Washing Machine was filmed in
Budapest in 1993. I lived and worked in Budapest in 1993, so this film
brought back a flood of memories of a specific time and place in my
life. The buildings, the streetcars, the bridges, the landmarks ...
everything exactly as I remember Hungary in one of the happiest times
of my life. I'm not the kind of person who assembles photo albums, but
I wish I was, so watching this film
was like looking through the album which I never actually made.
You don't care about that, but you will relate to the second
element. This film has some creative sex scenes involving sexy women
with superlative bodies. (See the nudity report for details.) I recommend
the film on that basis, but ONLY if you
are interested in the erotic elements, which are quite satisfactory.