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Cartes sur Table

Attack of the Robots
Cartas boca Arriba

France, Spain 1966
produced by
Ciné-Alliance, Hesperia Films, Spéva Films
directed by Jess Franco
starring Eddie Constantine, Francoise Brion, Fernando Rey, Sophie Hardy, Vicente Roca, Alfredo Mayo, Mara Kelly, Dina Loy, Aida Power (as Aida Grace Powers), Marcelo Arroita Jáuregi, Ricardo Palacios, Lemmy Constantine
written by Jess Franco, music by Paul Misraki

Al Pereira

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Several politicians and heads of church are assassinated by bronze-skinned man with thick glasses... who turn white when shot. Plus they all have blood rhesus 0. Obviously, they are brainwashed persons, and there has to be a brain behind the operation.

Interpol investigates, and soon they figure to get a lead to those behind the killings, they need bait ... and who better to pose as bait than rundown ex-Interpol agent Al Pereira (Eddie Constantine), notorious womanizer and alcoholic, whose blood is rhesus 0 - but of course, Interpol fails to tell Pereira that he is merely bait, he is told to do a full-fledged investigation. Interestingly enough, Oriental villain Lee Wee (Vicente Roca) - "working for Vietnam ... both sides" - also wants to hire Pereira to investigate.

So Pereira travels to Alicante (where the headquarters of the villains are supposed to be), where he soon enough hooks up with Cynthia Lewis (Sophie Hardy), who is also involved in the case somehow, and soon enough, a drop of his blood goes to Lady Cecilia (Francoise Brion) and Lord Percy (Fernando Rey), who, believe it or not, are the brains of the operation who rents out robots (actually brainwashed people) to commit assassinations worldwide. That night, Cecilia's and Percy's robots even try to kidnap Pereira, but they run across Lee Wee's men ... and in the end a bunch of corpses are left in Pereira's hotel room while he was nowhere near ... and Interpol fumes that he hasn't been kidnapped yet.

Soon, Lady Cecilia pays Pereira a visit and wants to kidnap him using her charms, but he is too blever for that and instead makes her indirectly confirm that the robots glasses are their control mechanism. When Pereira later pursues Lady Cecilia, he is stopped by Cynthia, who claims she has now found out that he works for Lee Wee and wants to choot him ... but he gets away, and eventually runs into the arms of the robots ... but since he packs quite a bunch, he knocks one of them out, takes his glasses and lets them direct him back to the robots home - Lady Cecilia's and Lord Percy's place. Unfortunately, he was already expected by Lady Cecilia, who soon enough throws him into a prison cell with Cynthia ... who now turns out to be an Interpol agent, just like Pereira. Lady Cecilia and Lord Percy want Pereira killed by their robots, but once again, Pereira uses his fists to get out of a tight spot, then he discovers the computer that controls the robots ... and directs them against their masters.

All's well that ends well ?

Not quite, as Pereira actually sent away an SOS to Lee Wee, who now shows up with his thugs and wants to torture the secret of the robots out of Pereira. Pereira now wants to use his James Bond-like gadgets (among them "a pen that is really a flute") to get out of this tight spot, but he has to realize none of them works ... and Lee Wee humiliates him by showing him he was used by Interpol merely as bait. Then though he wants to show that his "umbrella that is actually a bomb" is actually an umbrella ... and boom !!!

And since Pereira and Cynthia are the only two who survive, now all's well that ends well !!!


More than anything else, Cartes sur Table is a comicbook come to life: The story is delightully absurd, the imagery is flashy, the characters are drawn in broad strokes without being embarassing, and the plot relies heavily on pulp fiction mainstays: there's the hard-drinking, hard-hitting hero, the beautiful girl detective, the eccentric evil couple, the Oriental villain, brainwashed people, ... And since this is a jess Franco-film, none of this is taken too seriously ... actually the entire film is done incredibly tongue in cheek. And of course, Eddie Constantine - playing the role like another variation on his Lemmy Caution character - is perfect for the role of rundown detective Pereira.

Still, Cartes sur Table is not among Jess Franco's best films ... simply because action was never quite his thing (the genres where Franco did best were always horror and erotica). So on one hand, you can see the film as a loving tongue-in-cheek hommage to the genre, but on the other hand it is merely an average genre film. However, as long as you can make yourself watchit as hommage, you will enjoy it.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD