DIRECTED BY: Nikos Nikolaidis
FEATURING: Meredyth Herold, Michele Valley, Panos Thanassoulis
PLOT: An alcoholic detective searches for a lost love, presumably dead, and ends up acaptive of two psychotic women. The women (a mother and daughter) ceaselessly torture the helpless and incapacitated victim. He remains mute as they participate in bizarre sexual practices and flaunt their derangement, sometimes literally in his face.
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Singapore Sling is one of the rare films where practically every frame is teeming with weirdness. The imagery, behavior, and even the strange nuances in the women’s dialogue are often over-the-top and perverse, yet even while the viewer is made to feel uncomfortable, there is an overwhelming desire to see what comes next. Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any weirder it somehow manages to top itself.
COMMENTS: Singapore Sling is one messed up film. It is a twisted take on the film noirs that filled cinemas in the early part of the 20th century. Specifically, it pays homage to Otto Preminger’s stylish classic Laura (1944). I use the word homage very loosely here, however. The original film’s music theme is used sporadically throughout, the detective’s lost lover is named Laura, and the nutcase daughter has a painted portrait of herself like Gene Tierney’s Laura character. The similarities pretty much end there. Deviance always played a central part in noirs, but not anywhere close to the degree that is on display here. I have to smile thinking about a dolled up 1940’s socialite having a night out at the theater, dressed to the nines in her pearl necklace and pillbox hat, witnessing this vulgarity. “What is she going to do with that kiwi fruit”? Gasp!
Film noir translates to “black film” and Singapore Sling is the purest black possible. Actually, the black and white cinematography is surprisingly lush and almost seems too perfect for a film with this subject matter. The beautiful crispness works to its advantage and the film would not have the same impact if shot in color. The contrast of the blacks and whites are stark and sets the mood perfectly. If I have any quarrel with the movie it is with the decision to use a black box surrounding the subtitles. The box obstructs too much of the lower frame of the picture, becoming distracting and annoying. Luckily, much of the dialogue is spoken in English. The victim remains mute, but his voice-over narration is in Greek. The mother will at times recite her lines in French, but then usually repeat the same dialogue in English for some reason. The rationale behind this and much of the behavior on display is not explained.
The opening is divided between two scenes: the two women covered in mud and digging a grave for the chauffeur they had to dispose of; and the gunshot-wounded detective bleeding out in a nearby car. There is the voice-over narration by the detective giving information on his back story and what he set out to uncover. The only thing we know about the mother and daughter is that they dress like gypsy pirates (a becoming look in my opinion) and they are murderers. After the burial is complete, we dive into the mother/daughter craziness. The daughter (Meredyth Herold) has a natural beauty and naïve innocence to her face. That allure is quickly extinguished as she addresses her lines directly to the camera. She speaks with violent verbal tics and convulsions, as if she were suddenly being stabbed or having an orgasm. I’ll go with the latter, since she is a chronic masturbator, so much so that it seems her body cannot fully regulate her multiple orgasmic spasms anymore. This gal cannot go a few minutes without giving in to self-gratification. The mother (Michele Valley) has a little more self-restraint, but between the both of them I lost count at how many times they grabbed themsleves.
Once the detective makes the mistake of showing up at their doorstep the sexual depravity comes full circle. Since he will not speak, the women decide to call him “Singapore Sling,” after a cocktail recipe found in his jacket. He falls unconscious and is immediately dry humped by the daughter. Next, he is shackled to a bed and becomes a near lifeless lump of flesh for the women to spew their disgusting fantasies upon. Spew is the operative word here since both urine and vomit are splashed across his face. Poor guy! I hope he was compensated well, because the regurgitation looked authentic. These scenes are truly stomach churning. Sex is of course a natural act, but rarely is it captured on film so animalistically. If anything, these women are more primal in their sex drive than human. Aside from their strange sexual bondage practices, the women come off as pigs, devouring shellfish and what looks like some sort of sheep’s head. Both mother and daughter stuff their esophaguses until they have no choice but to throw it back up, as their throats constrict from the unnaturalness of the act and taste. The prisoner watches the vileness with a blank stare; at this point all he can think about is water. The women taunt and tease him with the prospect of water penetrating his dry, cracked and swollen lips.
Does all of this sound repulsive? Yeah, it is… but, the film showcases these wretched souls so well that all of their actions become digestible (even when they cannot contain the filth that inhabits their own bodies). I haven’t even mentioned that the mother and daughter are incestuous and the games they play are some sort of competitive family rivalry thing. The daughter eventually assumes the role of Laura to connect with their mute prisoner. Whether the lecherous duo actually killed his loved one (it seems they did), he is determined to seek revenge.
First, the mother gets her comeuppance. There is a great bathtub death scene, rivaled only by the effective tub scenes in Les Diaboliques and Fatal Attraction. Black mesh presses tightly against the mother’s face as she desperately sucks in air and water. So, that’s one down. I won’t completely give away the ending, but it does involve a rape with a knife attached to Singapore’s crotch. The daughter clung to the hope that once her mother was out of the picture she could have a second chance at life. Yet, her mental instability denies her that opportunity. Her depraved soul will get what it justly deserves, if Singapore Sling has any say in the matter.
Greek director Nikos Nikolaidis has constructed one of the sickest movies I have ever seen, and I loved every minute of it. It is the type of movie this website is designed for. Even if The List was narrowed down to a measly 100, Singapore Sling deserves its rightful spot. I know wonderful weirdness when I see it, and these images will be permanently seared upon my brain. Now about that kiwi… nah, just see it for yourself.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“All the ambiguity and weirdness only serves as a hypocritical facade for what is, ultimately, a rather revolting exercise in cinematic shock… this is not to suggest that Singapore Sling is without merit, however. While the film definitely suffers from an overdose of avant-garde superficiality, one is left admiring the sheer skill and artistry of its execution… Even so, one is left wishing that the director had used his obvious technical expertise to better ends.”–Troy Howarth, Eccentric Cinema (DVD)