While its title might suggest a trendy treatise on dieting, eating disorders, or self help, I Hate My Body is, in fact, an exceedingly bizarre blend of science fiction and sexual politics in which the brain of a womanizing macho man is put into the body of a sexy young lady -- by a Nazi mad scientist no less! Though director LEÓN KLIMOVSKY is best known for his horror films -- such as Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo, Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman, and The Vampires’ Night Orgy -- he eschews horror here for a mix of exploitation and social consciousness that results in a film that, like its main character, has one hell of an identity crisis.
On a date with his best-friend’s secretary, Spanish stud Ernest Knoll is burnt to a crisp in a car crash but doesn’t die. Instead, he awakes in the clinic of “genius and madman” Dr. Adolph Berger who’s just performed “the world’s first perfect brain transplant!” Well... almost perfect. Trouble is, Ernest’s masculine brain now resides in the luscious body of Leda Schmidt, an attractive young female! As might be expected, Ernest doesn’t take this well: “I think like a man! I act like a man! This female form is a stranger to me! I hate my own body!” Setting fire to Dr. Adolph and whipping the bejesus out of Adolph’s wife, Ernest/Leda escapes from the clinic, tries to resume his/her career, but quickly learns that the doors once open to Ernest are firmly shut to Leda: “A man in his place, a woman in hers!” It seems the only job opportunities he/she can get all come with a sexual price: “Would I be the man, Ernest Knoll, or the woman, Leda Schmidt? Which would be the true personality -- your brain or your body?”
It’s a question made even more poignant when, during moments of sexual tension, the filmmakers visualize the problem by having the actor playing Ernest briefly stand in for the actress playing Leda. Yipes! Hesitant to have its strange heroine declare herself either male or female, the film instead keeps him/her rushing through a plot full of outrageous soap-opera-ish twists and turns -- including even blackmail and murder -- toward a surprisingly nasty ending....
Gleefully playing the mad doctor is NARCISO IBAÑEZ MENTA, whose career stretches back to an obscure 1942 Argentinean horror film called Una Luz en la Ventana in which he also played a mad doc but this time with acromegaly! (He’s also the miserable old miser in Legend of Horror -- in footage from Obras Maestras del Terror -- and the Count in Klimovsky’s Saga of the Draculas.) But the most startling bit of casting is BYRON MABE. Yup, for those who ever wondered what happened to the star of The Beast That Killed Women and the director of numerous films for Dave Friedman (She Freak, Smell of Honey, Space Thing, etc.), here he is in a very strange Spanish film playing the slimy best friend of a man who’s now trapped in the body of a woman. Odd. And remember, gals: “Men are the bosses! They talk about sexual equality but it’s all a dirty lie !”
From a 35mm gender-bending print. -- Frank Henenlotter
Color: Color Widscreen
Starring: Alexander Bastedo
Co-starring: Narciso Ibanez Menta
Other cast: Maria Silva, Byron Mabe
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