Screen Reviews
Red Sun

Red Sun

directed by Rudolf Thome

starring Uschi Obermaier, Marquard Bohm, Gaby Go

Red Sun (1970), Radiance Films
Red Sun (1970), Radiance Films

Not to be confused with the 1971 Charles Bronson/Toshirō Mifune east-meets-west spaghetti western Red Sun, Rudolf Thome’s film is instead a quirky counter-culture thriller about a murderous quartet of beautiful women taking a feminist stand through ritual murder. The film, directed by Thome, mixes fairy tale sensibilities with late ’60s politics into a unique film that is still relevant today.

Broke wannabe playboy Thomas hitchhikes from Hamburg to Munich. He finagles his way into the Take Five club, where he hooks up with the pretty and free-spirited bartender, Peggy (Uschi Obermaier). She falls for his little boy lost routine and decides to take him home to the flat she shares with three other women from the club. Thomas decides to freeload off Peggy and her three flatmates, Sylvie (Sylvia Kekulé), Christine (Diana Körner), and Isolde (Gaby Go). None of these beautiful girls seems able to keep a boyfriend, because they have all entered into a pact, agreeing that any relationship with men can last for five days before the group murders him. Thomas lounges about the house, raiding the refrigerator, oblivious to his impending fate. Only when the brother of one of the quartet’s previous victims pulls Thomas into his investigation does the poor dope know the danger he is in.

Red Sun (1970), Radiance Films
Red Sun (1970), Radiance Films

The women at the core of Red Sun are not just fed up with men, but with the entire system. They clearly have higher aspirations than just bumping off their hookups as they spend their days teaching themselves to build pipe bombs, but it is never clear, even amongst the quartet, what their ultimate goals are. It is also debatable whether their crimes are built on passion or boredom, a bold cultural statement or just something to do, and the ambiguity adds to the intrigue of the film.

Red Sun shares a lot of DNA with Tonino Cervi’s Queens of Evil from the same year as well as numerous female vampire films of the era. Whereas Cervi’s film is a modern fairytale, dripping in excess, Thome eschews the fantastical for brutalist realism. Even without the obvious fantastical elements, it is quite clear from the opening shot of Thomas waking up in the backseat of a car, that he is entering fairy tale territory — Germany is the home of the Brothers Grimm, after all. It isn’t a stretch to view Peggy and her flatmates as witches who use a Walther PPK pistol and pipe bombs instead of magic spells.

Red Sun (1970), Radiance Films
Red Sun (1970), Radiance Films

The director’s approach feels like a deliberate departure from the highly stylized films populating European cinema at the time and fits in stride with the new realism movement in the US in both mainstream and underground cinema. Red Sun is an odd film that defies convention or easy placement in a genre. It borders on being a crime film, a horror film, a bad girls exploitation flick, a political thriller, or an experimental counter culture piece. It is somehow all of these and none of them at the same time. This combination of mixing styles while adhering to minimal convention is what gives the film much of its tension. Like the film’s clueless protagonist, we as the audience are on the ride, wholly uncertain where it is going to go.

Red Sun is exactly the kind of film that Radiance Films seems especially adept at uncovering. Radiance, in its short history, has done commendable work curating obscure remnants of world cinema back into public view in beautiful restorations and thoughtful extras that reward the film-loving faithful who take the chance on their titles.

Radiuance Films


Recently on Ink 19...

Best of Five

Best of Five

Screen Reviews

Not everyone can be excited by blocks spinning on a screen, but if you are, Ian Koss recommends you pay attention to Best of Five.

CAKE

CAKE

Event Reviews

Jeremy Glazier shoots a CAKE headline show at McGrath Amphitheater.