This Greek-made sickie has long been a legend in the cult movie world, and it’s easy to see why. Quite simply, SINGAPORE SLING contains nearly everything we’ve come to expect in “cult” cinema: mind-boggling weirdness, unapologetic perversion and a steadfast refusal to play by any rules.
Believe it or not, Nikos Nikolaidis was a prolific director of mainstream movies in his native Greece (1983’s SWEET BUNCH, 1987’s THE MORNING PATROL and 2005’s THE ZERO YEARS) before and after he wrote and directed the black-and-white cinemutation that is SINGAPORE SLING in 1990. It was and remains a profoundly demented piece of work that exists entirely in a category of its own. Outside brief midnight screenings and the bootleg circuit (where for years it was quite a popular item) SINGAPORE SLING was never distributed in the US…until mid-2006, that is, when Synapse Films released the film on DVD, complete with stunningly remastered visuals. If what I’ve written about the film thus far sounds interesting to you then you’re advised to grab a copy ASAP—otherwise, though, you’d probably best avoid it, as it will certainly mess your mind.
Two attractive women, a mother and (grown) daughter, live together in a secluded mansion. They spend their days playing incestuous games in memory of their sadistic patriarch, who raped his daughter when she was eleven and murdered several servants…and is now a mummified corpse.
When first glimpsed our psychotic mother-daughter protagonists are burying their disemboweled chauffeur in their backyard on a dark and stormy night. Shortly after this a love-sick detective pulls his car up to the residence, suffering from a painful bullet wound and an equally painful yearning to track down Laura, his long-missing beloved. What he doesn’t know is that he’s stumbled onto the lair of two profoundly screwed-up chicks who have in fact already lured Laura into their home and brutally killed her (in the process decorating their kitchen with her viscera, as a flashback helpfully shows).
The gals take the wounded detective in, christening him Singapore Sling after they discover a recipe in his pocket for that type of cocktail. They use him as a pawn in their sexually-tinged role paying games, during which Singapore Sling is tied up, vomited on and shocked. But as Singapore Sling’s confinement wears on he regains his strength and takes a more active role in the games. His deranged captors become alarmed when a kitchen knife goes missing and they discover Singapore Sling digging a deep hole in their backyard. As psychotic as these gals are, they’re still lucid enough to recognize that a killing is imminent, if not two or even three.
Nearly everything about SINGAPORE SLING is weird, from the wonky narrative—which the characters have a tendency to verbally explain by breaking the fourth wall and telling the audience what’s happening (often detailing events before they occur)—to the language track, which veers unexpectedly from English to Greek without any apparent rhyme or reason. The film also has a way of defying any and all categorization: despite what the MISERY-like premise would seem to promise, it’s not a thriller, as proven by the extremely languid pacing and total lack of action, and nor does it satisfy as a sex or splatter movie, although it contains an abundance of both elements.
The film is a deeply noirish concoction, containing a plethora of 1940’s-era film noir clichés mixed into a decidedly up-to-date cavalcade of perversion. The gorgeously stark, shadowy black-and-white photography is noir to its core, and I’m guessing it’s not accidental that a pivotal character is named Laura (after the 40’s classic of that title) or that the fabulously ornate yet archaic mansion where the film is set distinctly recalls that noir mainstay SUNSET BOULEVARD.
The actors are definitely game, particularly Meredyth Herold and Michele Valley as the psychotic yet strangely seductive duo at the film’s center. Both are garbed in opulent, frilly outfits that manage to expose a generous amount of skin, and deliver wildly uninhibited performances that include acts you’d never see a Hollywood actress perform onscreen. Herold and Valley are a large part of what makes SINGAPORE SLING as potent a piece of cult movie dementia as any I’ve ever experienced. For those who think they’ve seen it all, I’d strongly recommend a viewing.
Director: Nikos Nikolaidis
Producer: Marie-Louise Bartholomew
Screenplay: Nikos Nikolaidis
Cinematography: Aris Herold
Editing: Andreas Andreadakis
Cast: Meredyth Herold, Michele Valley, Panos Thanassoulis