I, a Woman Part II

Color, 1968, 79 mins. 24 secs.
Directed by Mac Ahlberg
Starring Gio Petré, Lars Lunøe, Hjördis Petterson, Bertel Lauring

Color, 1970, 86 mins. 35 secs.
Directed by Mac Ahlberg
Starring Gunbritt Öhrström, Inger Sundh, Klaus Pagh, Tom Scott
Something Weird / Pop Cinema (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), After Hours, Something Weird (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)

As any i, a Woman Part II skin flick fan i, a Woman Part IIknows, the whole Euro-sex phenomenon really kicked off in Sweden in 1965 with the first big heavy-breathing export, I, a Woman. The film and its successors were derived from one of the earlier literary entries in the sexy autobiography craze, in this case credited to Danish female nurse "Siv Holm" (though actually penned by Agnethe Thomsen). Not surprisingly, a raft of imitations soon followed, and it wasn't long before two sequels were put into production, both distributed by Chevron (making a short-lived branching out to movies along with peddling gasoline). In the first of that pair, I, a Woman, Part II, our sensual heroine, Siv (here played by Gio Petré from Wild Strawberries and Daddy, Darling), is now having having her adventures in full Technicolor while married to Heinz (The Kingdom's Lunøe), a pasty, pervy and well-off furniture dealer who pawns off dirty pictures of his wife to his more well-to-do patrons. When he arranges for one of them to tryst with Siv in person, she realizes she'd better dump her manipulative spouse in favor of Leo (Klaus Pagh), a nice guy doctor. Her decision becomes even easier when a deep, dark secret from her husband's past is finally revealed.

Only slightly more explicit than its predecessor, I, a Woman Part II features a much older heroine and feels like a stab at the more upscale, elegant, continental fantasies found in the films of Radley Metzger (who distributed the original movie through his Audubon Films, incidentally). The lush decor and decadent aristocratic settings give it a very different i, a Woman Part IIfeel, i, a Woman Part IIand if the main character's name weren't Siv, you'd be hard-pressed to guess this was a sequel. The big reveal at the end is easily the most memorable part of the film and pushes the film into seriously twisted territory that will leave more than a few jaws on the floor. Let's just say this one predates a very significant and trashy erotic subgenre from Italy by several years. The dreamy soundtrack by Sven Gyldmark (released on an LP, incredibly) is also a solid asset.

Next up is The Daughter: I, a Woman Part III, which-- you guessed it-- follows the escapades of Siv's daughter, Birthe (The Seduction of Inga's Inger Sundh), as the plot is spiced up with plenty of go-go nightclub scenes, interracial sex, lesbianism, and Birthe's troubling, thankfully unrequited attraction to her own mom. Pretty much dispensing with the glittering trappings of Part II, this outing instead piles on hallucinatory, drug-like imagery from the protracted opening credits sequence which finds our naked protagonist swirling in snowflakes bathed in lighting out of a Mario Bava i, a Woman Part IIfilm. The plot itself is pretty dispensable (basically dawdling around while Birthe decides whether she wants to settle down with a black American man named i, a Woman Part IIStephen (Scott), but the fun all lies in the incidentals cited above. By this point the name value of the title was waning, so this one wound up doing the drive-in rounds in the 1970s under such alternate titles as Black Voltage(!) and Like Mother, Like Daughter. Incredibly, future Stuart Gordon cinematographer Mac Ahlberg directed all three films in the series, though they bear pretty much no stylistic similarities to each other whatsoever.

After Hours' 2009 double feature DVD (under a "Euro Grindhouse" banner) marks the first official U.S. availability of both films, taken from battered but watchable American release prints featuring the original dub tracks and presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen. Part II looks accurately framed for the most part but its companion film is obviously squeezed from a full frame master to fit the frame, meaning the actors' heads look a little squished. The only extra (not counting the usual sexploitation cross-promotion trailers) is a liner notes booklet by Michael J. Bowen, who does an excellent job covering the history of the whole trilogy while rattling off some great facts, such as the presence of Hal Liden as one of the dubbers and the fact that the second film was the first time a sequel ever used "Part II" in its title. Both films were also issued separately in fuzzier editions from Something Weird on VHS and DVD-R.i, a Woman Part II

i, a Woman Part IIReleased in 2018 as the third volume in Pop Cinema and Something Weird's Racy Reels from the Something Weird Vault series, both films are joined together on a single Blu-ray with an appreciably expanded roster of extras. The new transfers look extremely vibrant and colorful, giving more punch to the stylized elements and also featuring nice gradations in the darker scenes that were previously lost entirely. Some minor element damage pops up here and there, but it's nothing very distracting. Both films feature the usual English dub tracks in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono presentations. Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas contributes extensive liner notes for the insert booklet and a very thoroughly researched audio commentary for Part II complete with copious coverage of Ahlberg, the preceding film, the backgrounds of all the significant actors, and the odd, elegant period setting that seems out of joint with a late '60s and wasn't called out in the source material. Make sure you pay attention to his early comments about pronouncing Swedish names, too, or you'll be very confused later on. In addition to the theatrical trailer for Part II and promos for Racy Reels Vol. 1 and Vol. 2., you get a completely bizarre outtake reel (7m58s) of mostly silent fragments excised from the release version including lots of footage of kiddie puppet antics and nothing terribly salacious.

Reviewed on November 11, 2018.