Wooo!! Well.. the month has flown by but before all the lovely mermaids sing their final siren songs and swim back into the murky depths of the deep green sea, we’ve still time for one last Review. So… now it’s time for perhaps the weirdest film of all in our “Frolicking Under The Sea: Mermaid Fantasy Film Festival – August 2016”, the 2015 Polish film fantasy “Córki Dancingu” aka “The Lure”. Get ready Gentle Visitors… I’m thinking this is probably the only Disco musical communist-period piece Horror Fantasy romance film about singing and dancing man-eating mermaid strippers ever made. Yep. Couldn’t pass this one up, not on your lives…
Our synopsis goes like this: “Two teenage Mermaid sisters – Silver and Gold – find themselves in the middle of the world of Warsaw dance parties of the ‘80s, vibrant with music, glittering with neon lights and sparkling sequins. They join the musicians of the “Figs and Dates” club-band and overnight become the sensation of the capital’s nightlife. Immersed in love and budding passions they forget their true nature for a while. But one single broken heart is enough for the situation to slip out of control and lead everyone towards tragedy…”
This is one of those crazy lil’ films that comes along once in a while and makes even this wee Catgirl shake her head and go “WTF…?”. One look at some of the early reviews and I knew I just had to get my Magical Catgirl Powers to working on finding a copy for myself. One quick internet shopping trip to Poland and I managed that very thing… but was all my eager curiosity worth the effort? One way to know for sure… Yep that’s your clue!! Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log…. you know you all wanna hear all about this goofy film. 😉
Yep. Gotta admit… Haven’t seen a whole lot of Polish films… so this was virgin territory for me trying to locate this particular DVD. Thank goodness for Amazon and eBay… if it’s out there… somewhere… somebody will be willing to sell you a copy at one of those two marketplaces. So it was with this one, and earlier this month I finally located a decent seller in Poland itself who could get me a DVD in time for this Festival.
Our film begins one dark evening as the members of a disco pop band, “Figs and Dates”, are having a drunken party at the seashore and attract the attention of two mermaid sisters, Srebrna aka “Silver” and Zwota aka “Golden” (played by Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska respectively). Initially our duo of carnivorous sirens want nothing more than to lure the male members of the group, Mietek (played by Jakub Gierszal) and Perkusista (played by Andrzej Konopka) into their clutches for a quick midnight snack. Only a piercing last minute scream from lead chanteuse Krysia (played by Kinga Preis) saves them…Yep… these two pretty girls are basically inhuman man-eating monsters at heart… so exactly how our boys go from appetizers to band mates would be pretty interesting, right? Unfortunately our movie skips right over that bothersome “detail” and rolls the opening credits before moving right into a glitzy disco performance by Krysia doing her rendition of Donna Summer’s hit “I Feel Love” back at the Warsaw nightclub and strip joint they all work at. That’s a shame too… it’s a neat scene I would have loved to see played out… our cannibal mermaids being sweet talked into joining the band and becoming backup singers and strippers rather than just devouring our drunken protagonists…. but that’s pretty much how our movie likes to roll… lots of pretty shiny scenes and eye candy and a celebration of 1980’s Warsaw’s club scene and very little in the way of meaningful character development. A shame really… as for the most part our film has about the craziest plot premise I’ve seen in a whole long while.
Basically the story is a loose… and I do mean very loose… version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” adapted to a modern disco musical. In it we get the story of our two mermaid sisters as they experience life playing as “human women” in the Mortal World. Well… not exactly human women… There’s the small quirk regarding their shape-shifting powers, that allows them to lose their mertails… that are more eel-like than fish-like… and get proper women’s legs. Like in 1984’s “Splash”, the two can get legs on dry land, but regain their mermaid tails when they get wet. As Mermaids, they have fishy smelling genitals waaaaay down on their tails, however… in a weird quirk, they are completely without belly buttons or… errr… ummm… “Lady bits”… as girls. Yep. Blank as a canvas. That’s gonna make romance a problem…
However that doesn’t seem to faze the manager of the strip club at all, who figures that the novelty of having two sexy mermaid sirens moonlighting as backup singers and strippers ought to be a sensational hit with his patrons. Turns out he’s right…. Silver and Golden are just happy to use the opportunity to explore the experiences and sensations that the Mortal world can offer them while they plan their eventual journey to swim to America. Funny how it turns out that both Mermaids and communist Poles both seem to regard the USA as the “Promised Land”in the 1980’s…
We get some really neat sequences here, like a crazy disco dance number that spontaneously erupts as our beauties are taken shopping for the first time at a department store. It’s colorful, wild and feels like the sort of thing you’d expect in a Hindi film. Problem is… the movie doesn’t sustain that vibe, seesawing back and forth between parody and drama in an uneven fashion the deeper we get into the story.
Basically our two mermaids are on different paths. Sweet blond Silver is playing the “Ariel” of our story, becoming smitten by Mietek and setting herself up for eventual misery as she tries in vain to become human enough for him to love. Two problems here. First, Mietek is pretty much a feckless and faithless lothario… He’s intrigued by the idea of being Silver’s lover, but also openly repulsed by her and ultimately not worthy of her feelings. True… he does tell Silver she’ll never be anything more than a “fish” to him, but he still seduces her anyways, even after she makes sacrifices for him. The other problem? Well… apparently there is the magical rule that dictates that if a mermaid ever falls in love with a human and he marries another, then she is doomed to dissolve away into seafoam on the sunrise of the day after his wedding. See where this is heading?
Golden on the other hand. She’s much more pragmatic. She’s a predator plain and simple and just out to sample whatever pleasures the human world has to offer. Sure she’s take a human lover… but it’s just as likely to end in bloody murder as not. In fact, she seems to take great pleasure from the hunt for such victims. She knows her sister is headed for trouble, but really doesn’t do much to prevent the tragedy that’s coming.
So… while Golden is having crazy interspecies lesbian encounters with lady monster hunters and hanging with fellow sea monster guy Tryton (played by Marcin Kowalczyk) and his heavy metal band, Silver becomes desperate enough to find a black market surgeon willing to saw off her mermaid tail and transplant it to a willing “donor” to get the legs (and “Lady Bits”) she thinks she needs to win Mietek’s heart. This bit of the film had me scratching my head in as much as it suggests that detailed knowledge of mermaids is pretty common, although the beginning of the film makes it seem like they are regarded as mere myths by most people. It’s a pretty schizophrenic way to tell a story, that’s for sure….
Tryton… the other mer creature in our film… is a perfect example of what I mean. He also is living here in Warsaw, and runs into our two sisters about midway through the film, but there’s no real explanation of even why he’s there, what the heck he is, and he seems pretty much superfluous to the plot entirely. Mostly he’s just some “bad boy” character for Golden to hang around with while she does her whole hedonistic thing. But then, “Córki Dancingu” is loaded with such dead end plot threads.
The final part of our story is depressing. Poor Silver finds she also has lost her siren voice along with her tail, and her terrible surgery has left her barely able to walk, so she loses her celebrity as both singer and exotic dancer. Mietek still finds her gross and repulsive, dropping her for another “real” woman at almost the first chance he can get. Golden refuses to work without her… and knows it’s only a matter of time before Mietek betrays her sister’s love dooming her. There is a mystical “out” for Silver… all she has to do is eat Mietek’s heart and she’ll return to normal, but even in the face of losing him to some slutty bimbo singer from another band, she can’t bring herself to hate him enough to save herself.
Naturally she dies tragically in Mietek’s arms, dissolving away to foam right before his eyes the morning after he marries that other woman. Golden loses it… assaults Mietek moments later and tears out his worthless throat before returning with her sorrows to the sea from whence they originally came. And that’s about it.
Hmmmm? This one is an odd bird alright. I wanted to like it a whole lot… and apparently it has won buttloads of awards at film festivals both in Europe as well as North America… but, at least as far a Carolyn and I were concerned, it’s ultimately a flawed film that raises more confused questions than it answers. It’s an uneven mix of genres… wanting at first glance to be a musical, but never going all out to be one. It kinda wants to be a fantasy romance with horror elements, but the romantic story is a depressing and tepid one at best. With it’s risqué nudity and titillating hints at mermaid sex, it sort of wants to be a “sexploitation” picture… but lacks the gusto to go all the way. In short… without a clear direction to go, the film ends up feeling as stitched together as our poor heroine Silver.
Now there are some good parts to this one. Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska certainly give us convincing mermaid Lolitas out for oodles of blood and sexy fun in the same vien as any of the supernatural heroines in an old Jean Rollin horror film. They both look really neat with their long eel-tails and I liked what little folklore about the sirens the story did employ, especially the crazy “whale sign” language that let them gossip together about the most wicked of notions without the pesky humans ever catching on. Fun, fun, fun. Had these two characters had a more coherent story to inhabit, I’m thinking this one would have been as fun to watch as the little Hungarian film “Liza, a Rókatündér”, which I absolutely loved.
But as it is, I can only give this one a measly 3 “Meows” out of 5. It just didn’t have “the magic” for me… as much as I had hoped it would. The DVD was nice though… Region 2 PAL formatted with excellent accurate separate English subtitles. I guess my only quibble is the price, which ended up being right around 30$ US with shipping and whatnot… awfully expensive for a film I didn’t end up loving to pieces. I don’t regret picking up a copy… but at that price I like to get more satisfaction from a film than I ultimately got. Mind you, your experience might be different…. after all, I have to temper my review with the knowledge that I’m probably not the originally intended audience for it.
So, I guess that wraps up our Review festival for this month…. but hopefully I’ll stay inspired and get back soon with some more postings for you all, my Gentle Visitors, and until then “Meow, meow, for now!!”
We’ve got a trailer, but trust me, it doesn’t even come close to describing this freaky story at all… for that you’d have to watch the movie for yourselves. 😉