Vida Kolba (Katarzyna Figura) returns to the home she shares with her two sisters Maria (Ilaria Borelli) and Ludmilla (Barbara Ricci) with Yuri (Yorgo Voyagis) who doubles as her pimp and her boyfriend. When they pull up in his car, they are having an argument as she is furious the jewelry he gave her was engraved with one of her sisters' nicknames, and no excuse he gives can appease her. He follows her indoors where he insists on kissing and making up, which Vida eventually comes around to in the kitchen as by the glow of the open refrigerator they make mad, passionate love, she getting an extra kick out of the act when she notices Ludmilla is watching from the staircase and playing a triangle as she does so...
There are plenty of questions which arise watching The Washing Machine, but one which isn't answered is the triangle conundrum. Ludmilla is a percussionist in an orchestra (the film was shot in a chilly-looking Budapest), so you have to presume she's taking her work home with her, but it's a typically bizarre image from a giallo made when the genre was mostly running on fumes for as a whole the Italian heyday of that distinctive combination of horror, thriller and softcore sex had petered out by 1993. What makes this more intriguing for horror fans, or (let's face it) sleaze fans was the man in the director's chair, a filmmaker who would never live down a certain item in his career.
He was Ruggero Deodato, and will forever be the man who made Cannibal Holocaust; whatever you think about his oeuvre, the fact that he at one time thought nothing of killing animals for the sake of his movie means he will never be forgiven by a section of the cinema-watching audience, and by the point The Washing Machine was made that controversy was shaping his whole public persona. He expressed regret for his actions, but that wasn't enough for many, and the fact that he appeared to hold work like this one in lower esteem than his defining moment didn't endear him any further, this being a far less offensive, and in fact rather goofy erotic thriller with added over the top gore moments to season its frequent bouts of female nudity - the blokes remained fully clothed.
Well, we did see leading man Philippe Caroit in the shower, but strictly from the waist up, so it was clear the male gaze was being appealed to here as each of the actresses playing the sisters disrobed, yet even then there was a coyness to these sequences, with glimpses of flesh and not much else: if you were watching for that, the sense of "was that it?" would never be far away. On the other hand, if it was a mystery you wished to get your teeth into, The Washing Machine was lacking there too as Caroit's Inspector Alexander Stacev falls for each of the seductive siblings when asked to investigate the disappearance of Yuri. Ludmilla calls the police when she sees the older man's body stuffed into the washing machine of the title, though how he was supposed to fit was another conundrum unaddressed.
When Stacev arrives to see there is no such thing in the machine, he is tempted to dismiss the whole case, yet the fact remains Yuri is still missing, so he is duty bound to continue his sleuthing, in the process managing to cheat on his girlfriend Irina (Claudia Pozzi) with the troublesome trio - at one point adventurous Vida handcuffs him to a staircase and ravages him, which should give you some idea of the racy in theory but impractical in practice scenes peppering the plot. Even when the denouement is impending, the whole storyline has been treading water for nearly an hour and a half, so the pleasures you get out of this are strictly to watch how eccentric it can get, which fortunately for trash aficionados manages to cook up some overheated presentations that may struggle to make sense, but are daft enough to amuse. And that grand finale, when all is revealed? Safe to say the terrible power of a horny woman is what diverts us here, there's nothing more scary according to this, than a lady who's thinking with her nether regions. Music by Claudio Simonetti.
Italian director best known his ultra-violent horror work, but whose filmography takes in many genres over a 40-year career. Worked as an assistant director on a variety of films during the sixties, and made his first credited directing debut in 1968 with the superhero yarn Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen. Throughout the following decade Deodato made erotic dramas (Gungalar, Waves of Lust), musical comdies (Man Only Cries for Love), and comic book romps (Zenabel).
It was Ruggero's horror films that gained him an international reputation however. The trashy Last Cannibal World was followed by 1980's notorious Cannibal Holocaust, and the likes of House on the Edge of the Park, Cut and Run and Bodycount were popular amongst video audiences during the eighties. Other films during this period include the action fantasy The Barbarians and bizarre thriller Dial Help, while Deodato's work during the nineties was largely confined to Italian TV.