The Washing Machine

 (aka Vortice Mortale, 1993)


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

"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 quote above.

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 woman.

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' elaborate lies.

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?

Fair question.

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.


* widescreen letterboxed

* no features

* English soundtrack, optional Thai subtitles.





There are no major reviews online.


5.5 IMDB summary (of 10)




Petite Ilaria Borrelli (nude) is almost a dead ringer for Elaine on Seinfeld. She was only 24 when the film was lensed, and she looks great in and out of tight outfits. She does two inventive sex scenes. In one, she is trying to have ultra-quiet sex with the detective while her blind friend is only a few feet away, trying to find them. In the other, she seduces the detective by dancing naked on a pole, stripper style, while they are backstage during a musical performance. Hot stuff. I'm not sure why Ilaria never became a star, but according to IMDb she stopped performing before her 30th birthday and is now a writer/director.

Barbara Ricci (topless) plays the crazy sister. Her sex scenes are not so spectacular and her nudity mostly consists of her removing her top at random times for no apparent reason. But, damn, that woman has a gorgeous body! She's also quite beautiful in a spooky way appropriate for the role.

The third sister, the hooker, is played by the the spectacularly busty Polish actress Kasia Figura (topless), and her scenes are played out with a touch of surreal comedy.

There is also additional topless nudity from background strippers and the blind friend. Although the blind woman has a big part, I couldn't identify her from the credits. She is probably Agnes David, because Agnes is the only female name listed in the cast that I can't match to a role, and the blind woman is the only major female cast member that I can't match to a name. But maybe not.

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a: