Singapore Sling (1990)


Greece. 1990.


Director/Screenplay – Nikos Nikolaidis, Producer/Production Design – Marie-Louise Bartholomew, Photography (b&w) – Ari Stavrou. Production Company – Marni Film


Meredyth Herold (The Daughter), Michele Valley (The Mother), Panos Thanassoulis (Singapore Sling)


A mother and a daughter live in a large home, playing games of sexual domination and re-enacting the murders of various servants that they have hired and then killed. The private detective Singapore Sling comes searching for Laura, a woman he is fixated on but whom they have killed. They imprison him, using him as a sex toy and torturing him.

Singapore Sling is a film that is difficult to describe. You could try and call it a deranged collision between film noir, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and a John Waters film played straight. At times, it comes close to Federico Fellini’s grotesqueries or a lesser-budgeted version of Peter Greenaway in shock-horror mode. (The scenes of the women languidly letting food slobber down their clothes and masturbating with it come very close to the same assaults on fine dining that Greenaway conducted in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover [1989]).

The film is shot in exquisite black-and-white and classical music plays on the soundtrack. At close contrast to this are a series of thoroughly demented goings-on – women ravaging each other with strap-on dildos (and a nasty climax where the dildo is replaced by a knife); scenes of eating food in the messiest way possible; a lot of sex scenes and a good many of the two women (who spend the entire film wandering around in 1920s lingerie or half-naked) masturbating. In one truly demented scene, the male lead is tied down to the bed, ECT paddles jammed against his forehead and he left convulsing in shock while the other woman rides him and then moves up to piss on his face. In another such scene, we watch in exquisitely photographed detail and to the accompaniment of classical music as human entrails are removed from a body and placed on a bench and earrings delicately hung from pieces of meat.

Singapore Sling is a bizarre film to try and get a grip on, particularly in terms of what is meant to be happening. The acting is theatrically over-the-top. Characters often talk direct to the camera. One has no real idea why characters act the way they do. Trying to follow the plot is like trying to get a grip on an oiled fish. Why was Laura killed? Why do the mother/daughter re-enact her murder and that seemingly of other maids they claimedly lure to the house for the express purpose of killing? Or are they even a mother and daughter? Is the daughter really Laura? Is Singapore Sling a detective searching for Laura or, as is suggested at one point, someone who fell in love with her and became obsessed with finding her? Everything is bafflingly ambiguous. If this side of the film had been explored further it might have made for an intriguingly existential variation on a film noir thriller. As it is, it is never wielded with sufficient sophistication to make Singapore Sling a more than passably intriguing film (and one that, at 113 minutes, does become long and indulgent) carried largely by its gross-out factor.

Trailer here

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