raven-haired Isabel Sarli —
of 1955 —
cinema sex siren of her native country by starring in over two
dozen movies, most of them directed by husband Armando Bo. Her
most infamous role, as an insatiable nymphomaniac in 1969's
Fuego ("Fire"), proved too steamy
for government censors; the film was banned from domestic release.
This didn't stop foreign distribution, however. It actually
received a theatrical run in the United States and elsewhere,
establishing Sarli as an international cult film femme fatale.
Oddball director/kitsch maven John Waters has cited Fuego
as among his inspirations.
Sarli is Laura, independent
woman of some means, who sets tongues wagging (ladies in her
social circle) and gonads throbbing (every man she meets) with
her wanton, wicked ways. She
can't help it, though — she's afflicted
with "exaggerated pathological sexual desire"
as a doctor later explains. When banging every dude in town
can't quench her inner flame, Laura turns to her freakish lesbian
maid, Andrea (Alba Múgica), for satisfaction of the sapphic
variety. Enter well-to-do businessman Carlos (director Bo, too
old for the part), who falls in love with Laura and proposes
marriage. She tries to warn him of her uncontrollable hunger
for sex. But she's fallen for Carlos, too, and agrees to become
his wife. Andrea predicts the union will only lead to sorrow,
that Laura's sexual hijinx will eventually drive Carlos nuts
and he'll end up killing her. (The kinky, possessive maid also
doesn't want to lose her.)
enough, after she and Carlos wed Laura finds that she can't
stifle the powerful erotic urges that overwhelm her. Her lesbian
romps continue with Andrea, and she seeks out additional male
partners by flashing men in a nearby town, fondling her breasts
in a silent invitation to shag. (Not surprisingly, this method
proves successful.) Catching her in bed with a guy one night,
an enraged Carlos grabs a pistol and almost kills them. His
love is too strong, though, and he turns to medical doctors
to hopefully come up with a cure or some kind of therapy. But
when even a gynecological exam causes to her to orgasm, can
there be any hope?
Turgid and overwrought (to put it mildly), this South American
soap opera is at times histrionic to the point of hilarity.
Bits of the dialog are real kneeslappers. ("I love you
but I'm being consumed by this sexual fire inside... I need
men! I NEED MEN!") Sarli is completely over-the-top
as she tries to convey either a near-constant state of horniness
or hysterical anguish at the hell she's putting poor, jealous
Carlos through. The character of Andrea adds grimace-inducing
freak appeal to the picture, as we're subjected to the bizarre
juxtaposition of Sarli's gloriously tanned and fleshy nude body
being kissed and fondled by Múgica, whose severe, skull-like
looks like it's covered with stretched leather. (Imagine Peter
Cushing after a sex change operation... Eeeeeew!) The
kitschy theme song — especially an instrumental variation that'd
be more appropriate in a western or action movie — kicks in
whenever Laura's motor is really running hot... which is just
about every few minutes or so.
Sloppily made, with an utter cluelessness that its breathless
hysterics put it firmly in the realm of camp, Fuego
really exists only as a showcase for Isabel Sarli and her bodacious
bod. 34 when she made the film, she's like a hot MILF from the
Latin American family next door. If you're into the full-figured,
stacked and curvy female form as personified by Marilyn Monroe
or Jayne Mansfield, then this spicy brunette version will certainly
get your mercury rising.
comes to Region 1 DVD as part of Something Weird's Sizzling
Latin Double Feature disc, which pairs the film with a black
and white Sarli vehicle from 1968, The Female
(aka Seventy Times Seven). I
chose not to review this second 'bonus' feature because (1) it's
actually more of an art house film, far removed from the unabashed
sexploitation of Fuego; (2); Sarli
doesn't get naked in it; and (3) I am lazy.
The fullframe Fuego
transfer is taken from a beat up English-dubbed print that seems
to be missing a few minutes of footage.
(The IMDB lists the banned Argentine cut as running seven minutes
longer.) Dirt and print damage are prevalent, with quite a few
frame jumps, but colors are often bright and bold. Too bad the
film doesn't look at good as its less titillating co-feature,
The Female, which sports one of the
best looking transfers of the SW catalogue I've ever seen. Audio
quality of both titles is decent.
the moniker of "A Throbbing Eruption of Amorous Extras"
you'll find the disc's slate of complimentary Latin side dishes.
These include three trailers for Fuego
and seven others for Love Hunger,
The Curious Dr. Humpp, The
Deadly Organ, No Exit, The
Unsatisfied, The Pink Pussy: Where
Sin Lives ("Charged-up, sex-crazed women... driven
by bizarre desires!"), and Put
Out or Shut Up. All but one of these films
is Argentinean; the other Spanish. Two short film excerpts are
provided (though the titles of the films they're derived from
are not given): South American Smoke Den Stripper sees
a chunky exotic dancer goofily shaking her moneymaker
in a narcotics speakeasy, while South American S & M Show
features a Jess Franco-like erotic nightclub act. A gallery of
sexploitation posters set to sleazy radio spots rounds out the