Thursday, 19 September 2013

TV Series: Femme Fatales

"All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun".

This quote from the great French director Jean-Luc Goddard could be the motto for this series, if it weren't for the fact that in some episodes it's a girl and a knife.

This is probably the most unique series on television today. It's an anthology series, the episodes unrelated to one another, in the style of "The Twilight Zone". The series' leitmotif is that each episode features one or more powerful women, willing and able to kill men to achieve their selfish aims. Each episode is introduced by a woman called Lilith, usually dressed in character with the episode, giving a warning about the power of Woman. Sometimes she reappears at the end of the episode, laughing at the poor man who has just been killed.

The series has its origins in the magazine "Femme Fatales", which was published from 1991 to 2010. This was a magazine that featured articles about the beautiful women who starred in B-movies, whether they were horror films, sci-fi films or erotic thrillers. The magazine was a success under the control of its original publisher, Frederick S. Clarke, but after his suicide in 2000 sales dropped. Despite several attempts to revive the magazine it was eventually cancelled. One of the frequent writers for "Femme Fatales" was Mark Altman, a screenwriter and producer of low budget horror films. The idea to make a television series to keep the name "Femme Fatales" alive stems from him. He created the concept of the series and acts as its executive producer, together with Steven Kriozere, former executive producer of "V.I.P."

The episodes vary greatly in style, but at their core they are all erotic thrillers. This adds to the nostalgia of the series. As film fans know, the 1990's were the golden age of erotic thrillers. They used to make up a large percentage of the direct-to-video B-movies, but now they've fallen out of fashion. This series helps revive them.

I've noticed that most other reviewers concentrate on the episodes that are made in a film noir style. These are undoubtedly the best episodes, to me at least, but it's wrong to talk about the series as if it were all about film noir. It's about evil women who use their beauty to lure men to their death.

Let this photo be a warning to any man who's ever offered a foursome with three beautiful girls. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Before anyone says anything, yes, I know that "Femme Fatales" is horrible French. The correct form is "femmes fatales". To excuse it, this is a typical example of the bastardising of foreign words in English. "Femme fatale" is a commonly used expression in English, so it's been pluralised by adding an S, as if it were an English word. I don't like it, but that's the way foreign words are used in English, so it's incorrect for IMDB to call the title a goof.

The first two seaons were broadcast in 2011 and 2012. The series hasn't officially been cancelled, it's just taking a break this year. I sincerely hope it will continue next year. A series with this originality deserves a slot on television. Since it's an anthology and doesn't rely on a fixed cast there's no reason why it shouldn't continue for the next 50 years.

If this were the last sight you saw before being buried alive, be thankful. It could be worse.

P.S. I wrote this post a few hours ago, but there's something I need to add about the DVD release of this series. It's one of the best box sets I've ever seen. Other companies could learn from it. It's packed full of interviews and extra features, and every single episode has a commentary by the cast and crew. I can't think of any other series where every episode has a commentary. Fantastic value for money!

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