DVD Review: Ruggero Deodato's THE WASHING MACHINE

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
DVD Review: Ruggero Deodato's THE WASHING MACHINE
(Dirty people apparently do not become any cleaner in a washing machine...)

When you mention the name Ruggero Deodato, the first title which pops into mind will be the unbelievably infamous Cannibal Holocaust, and some aficionados might also mention The House at the Edge of the Park. But the man has been involved in many other films as well, and while the notoriety of his output cannot be disputed, he is a talented enough filmmaker for his films to include a little more than just shock-value.

But some of Deodato's films can be hard to acquire. UK distributor Shameless released his sleazy thriller The Washing Machine on DVD last month (in a glorious piece of stunt-packaging), and it currently is the only legally sold English-friendly edition in the whole world. But what is it about?

Time for a review!

WashingMachine-DVDreview-ext1.jpgThe Story:

Alexander is a police inspector in Budapest, who stumbles on a weird case: a woman claims to have seen the corpse of a local criminal, chopped to pieces, in her washing machine. Alas, the body has disappeared, and without any proof of an actual crime, Alexander quickly dismisses the affair as a hallucination.

But in the days afterwards, he keeps being stalked by the woman and her two sisters. Each of them has a different story about the corpse, and whether it existed or not. They all try to discredit and incriminate one another. And they all are hot, and want to have sex with inspector Alexander.

Also, the supposed victim really has gone missing. What the hell is going on here?

The Film:

No doubt about it, The Washing Machine is an odd film. For a straight thriller it is too full of gratuitous sex and seedy surroundings, but for a typical soft-core film it is actually too slick and well-made. It is often called a giallo, but it lacks most of that genre's tropes, offering a mystery without tension or a bodycount.

Also, The Washing Machine is from 1993, a bit late for a giallo. At the same time it looks hopelessly dated for the nineties, and this is accentuated by its setting of Budapest, with its crumbling infrastructures and seventies' technology.

Proving himself to be a better director than often being given credit for, Ruggero Deodato actually works this to his advantage. Budapest is truly a beautiful location, and beautifully shot here as well, all shadows, dark wood, broken glass, and stone. A place of baroque decadence and decay, where palaces and nightclubs look the same. It's like an Italian city, but one that's been left in the hands of Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam for too long.

Like with so many of the pulpy Italian thrillers, the story doesn't really make sense when scrutinized in retrospect, and a lot of the acting is atrocious. That doesn't take away from the fact that the film is a lot of fun to watch. There is always something interesting to see, and even the sex scenes show a bit more beauty or imagination than is warranted for pulp.

So... is it a good film? Probably not.

Is it a bad film? Maybe...

Is it an awful film? Definitely not.

On To The Disc:

Shameless has released The Washing Machine in a magnificent steelbook packaging, which actually looks like a washing machine, window and all. Check our gallery of pictures of it, for a closer look.

The disc itself is a bit less spectacular though. Good things first: it is region-free, meaning it will work in all players worldwide. The video is of varying quality. Most of it is fine, although some scenes are noticeably softer, like they have been inserted from another source. The edition doesn't come across as censored though. The slightly shortened running time seems to come from PAL speed-up, and there is no blurring or combing.

For sound, we just get the English dub and that's it. No Italian, and also no English subtitles.

There aren't that many extras which have to do with The Washing Machine itself. There is a gallery of behind-the-scenes pictures made by Deodato, and an Easter Egg on the menu screen points to Ruggero Deodato's own uncredited cameo in the film.

But there is also a trailer gallery for other titles by Shameless, and it contains a whopping 38 trailers! Seriously, if you're a trailer collector and fond of exploitation films, this extra might make the disc worth purchasing all by itself.

All in all, it's a so-so disc for a so-so film, but both the film and its packaging are slightly too entertaining to ignore. And seeing as how this is the only legal version of it in the world, and not at all bloody expensive, this release comes recommended!

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