DVD Review: The Washing Machine (1993)

The Washing Machine DVD CoverDistributor: Shameless Screen Entertainment

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Philippe Caroit, Ilaria Borrelli, Katarzyna Figura, Barbara Ricci

Cast your minds back to the early 1990s and there was a slew of erotically charged thrillers hitting the market. Basic Instinct and the hilariously bad Madonna vehicle Body of Evidence were probably the best known but under the mainstream radar there were quite a few movies framed by soft lighting and featuring boobs, world-weary detectives and twisted plotlines. However, one name not usually associated with the word ‘erotic’ (although his films do feature nudity, but nothing you could call sexy) is Italian director Ruggero Deodato, most famous for giving the world Cannibal Holocaust and House on the Edge of the Park – arguably two of the most offensive and controversial movies ever made – so it comes as a bit of a surprise that The Washing Machine is actually a damn fine example of the style without (totally) resorting to stereotypical seediness and cliché.

That said, the basic story itself is nothing special and has been done dozens of times over but Deodato manages to make the film sexy and suspenseful by actually tapping into what the audiences of softcore eroticism actually want without pandering to commercial convention. In this film, grizzled detective (of course) Alexander Stacev (Ewan McGregor looklaike Philippe Caroit) is investigating the reported murder of a pimp whose mangled body was found inside a washing machine after he had sex with his lover Vida (Katarzyna Figura). Seems straightforward enough until he arrives on the scene and discovers that there is no body and no evidence of a murder, and it doesn’t take long for Vida and her two sisters to draw Stacev into their strange world of sex and murder.

Like most Italian giallo mysteries, describing the various plot strands and twists makes it look like a load of nonsense so if you want to be dazzled by some quite graphic but very tasteful sex scenes, some well-executed(!) gore and a story with a big dollop of suspense that’ll keep you hooked until the end then The Washing Machine comes highly recommended. The script isn’t the best you’ve ever heard as most of the impact would likely be lost in the translation of the dubbed voices but the physical performaces of the main actors are very strong, especially those of Philippe Caroit and the rather buxom Katarzyna Figura, who seem to gel very well on the screen. Nevertheless, there are one or two characters that could be cut out entirely as they don’t serve the story as well as they probably should but this was never likely to win a screenwriting award in the first place, was it? Overall, it’s a very entertaining murder mystery with a seedy element that works in its favour so if you liked the slick stylings of Basic Instinct but felt that it needed a bit more softcore sleaze then you’ll probably find The Washing Machine very much to your taste.

Special Features: On-set photographs taken by Ruggero Deodato, limited edition metal tin packaging with exclusive artwork courtesy of Graham Humphreys.

UK Release Date: 25th August 2014

Shameless Screen Entertainment – Website

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