The Devil Came from Akasava (West Germany-Spain, 1971):
(Teufel kam aus Akasava; El Diablo que Vino de Akasawa)

A mysterious metal is extracted from the depths, placed in a valise and readily stolen; a scientist (Horst Tappert) skulks through the jungle looking for it until the camera slam-zooms into the foliage and pulls back on a seaport, a transition worthy truly of Keaton's channel-surfing in Sherlock Jr. Jesus Franco keeps on dispensing such invention in the easygoing framework, namely hotel rooms, offices, restaurants, and nightclubs over a tropical vacation, with This Gun for Hire subtly evoked, Mabuse thrillers directly referenced, Kiss Me Deadly blatantly filched. Now in London, a handheld POV explores a darkened office, a Hitchcockian profile steps out of the shadows and stabs the intruder, the Scotland Yard receives a clue by phone from Soledad Miranda, who "sounds pretty" ("We're now seeing voices," the inspector fumes). Stashed away in a severe re-creation of an East End brothel, Miranda is really an international gal of mystery, and ships off to Akasava (wherever the hell that is) to find the missing scientist, accompanied by Tappert's nephew (Fred Williams) and Franco himself as a kind of oily Sancho Panza. Ewa Strömberg, Paul Muller, and Howard Vernon are also there, Walter Rilla is well-tanned in a wheelchair while his dear old wife wields a sword cane, yet the picture remains a lax, knowing affair, gathering notes on the international-spy genre and scattering them in favor of airy, porn-shoot casualness (having just received their new orders, a pair of secret agents immediately falls in bed, synchronized to ululating, electric sitar riffs). In any case, it offers inspiring reflections of Soledad Miranda, slouched in civilian garb only to slink her way transcendentally in strip-joint performance art, the "wonderful balance" at the center of Franco's inexhaustible tawdriness. With Siegfried Schürenberg, and Blandine Ebinger.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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