17 August, 2018


LES GLOUTONNES (1973, Clifford Brown)

 (AMERICAN VIDEO) Maciste et les Gloutonnes. 
France 1973
Portugal (When I interviewed actor Robert Woods he remembered that this film was shot
 partially on the island ofMadiera, around the same time as AL OTRO LADO DE ESPEJO,
 during the Summer of 1973.)

Directed under his French nom de plume Clifford Brown, this is a fascinating melange due to the
 fact thatde Nesle, or somebody, took a supposedly "serious" film and made it into a delirouscollage of 
peplum, adventure, comedy, erotic and fantasy motifs. It's Waldemar Wohlfaartd as Maciste
 vs. Robert Woods as the evil Caronte, who attempts to overthrow and kill the Queen of Atlantis,
 played by Alice Arno. Arno alsoappears in what appear to be added footage of her from another (?) film
 lying in bed and pleasuring herself. 

Maciste prevails with the help of " Gobblers", the women of 
Atlantis. Howard Vernon makes an appearance as Cagliostro
(cf. LA MALDICION DES FRANKENSTEIN), the antics through a homemade portal with 
his horny attendant, played by the puckishRick Deconninck/Bigitoni. Kali Hansa gives perhaps the most 
memorable  performance as the vicious Parka, the consort of Caronte.

A very interesting, electic score by Robert Viger [?] is a bonus. There's even a hardcore sex scene
 thrown in the mix.This scene features a naked, longhaired man walking slowly down a spiral staircase
 in what appears to be a theater as Alice Arno lies on the floor below. The man then hovers over her
 as she excites him into ejaculating on her. Another actress, who looks something like Montserrat Prous
 (LOS OJOS DEL DOCTOR ORLOFF) is also involved, but it's hard to tell who it is due to
 the poor quality VHS dupe I've had to consult.Prous does appear in other non-sexual scenes.
 Scenes of cult members covered in white sheets as they wander through a misty forest
 seem to be outtakes from similar scenes in LA MALDICION DE FRANKENSTEIN, 
the Spanish version of EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972). 

 Mark Forest (THE LION OF THEBES) was supposed to play Maciste, according to Franco..
The opening shot of Caronte wandering down a misty valley and the first view of the stormy coast
 of "Atlantis" are outstanding images, but unless you are a Franco completist you may hate this film. 
Franco also made YUKA (also 1973) with Davis/Waldemar Wohlfaart and Robert Woods again 
 playing the leads in another erotic "peplum" set in the Middle Ages.. 

(C) Robert Monell 

15 August, 2018

SNAKEWOMAN (2006, Directed by Jess Franco)

A "Walk-in” is a description of a mysterious/supernatural event where the soul of one person
replaces the exiting soul of another is a generating factor in several important Jess Franco films,
 most notably his 1974 LORNA, THE EXORICST (Les Possedees Du Diable) in which the
soul a modern female demon/witch invades a young girl (Lina Romay)
after she is murdered by the girl’s father (Guy Delmore).

There’s a lot more to this 20th Century version of Faust, retold in a downmarke
t environment as a near hardcore porn item. Soul transference/metempychosis
may also be a factor in Franco’s 1967 occult sexploitioner NECROMONICON/Succubus
 in which Lorna Green (Janine Reynaud) is a disturbed nightclub performer who
 is dominated by a menacing male demon (Michele Lemoine) who forces her to
 seduce and murder a number of hipsters of the milieu. Soul invasion/mind control
also plays a role in SHINING SEX (1975) and is at the center of
MACUMBA SEXUAL (1981), a remake of VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970),
in the latter two a powerful female dies and her soul invades the body
of an innocent female victim. Another film which could be linked thematically, stylistically
structurally to VAMPYROS LESBOS is the shot on HD video SNAKEWOMAN.

Jess Franco doesn't make "films" anymore, he makes video but the results are still,
 even in glossy HI-DEF, 100% Jess Franco. I spoke to Jess during the conception
 of this film and he was quite excited about attempting an updating of VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970), 
which this in essence is, but it's also more than that. Carmen Montes is the title character,
 a female vampire who wears nothing but a long red lined black cape and a tattoo 
of a double headed python which curls around her torso. She dominates a netherworld 
{Malaga, Spain} where "walk-ins" appear and disappear as suddenly as her attacks.

 Her most recent victim is a female reporter (FATA MORGANA), the Jonathan Harker character,
 and Christie Levin is the demented female Renfield who is kept in a private asylum
 by the mad Dr. Nostradamus (Antonio Mayans). The reporter has come to invesitage
 the estate of the legendary actress-composer Oriana Balasz. The Snakewoman may be her 
descendant or her continuation. It begins and ends and is often interrupted by 
telezooms onto flocks of tropical birds which recall the kites in VAMPYROS LESBOS. 
The music is spectral but will not enter the imagination in the same way as the ground 
breaking score for that 1970 cult classic. Carmen Montes does evoke the late, 
great Soledad Miranda and the film is filled with captivating images.

 Franco's director credit appears over an old b&w photo of Marlene Dietrich and 
this may be another subterranean hommage to the cinema of Von Sternberg. 
There are a lot of lesbian interludes (Franco told me he wanted to call it VAMPIRE INTERLUDE
) but not as many as in some of his recent work and they don't smother the film.
 The acting is above average and it's worth seeing on the SRS DVD where it is
 coupled with DR. WONG'S VIRTUAL HELL and some still galleries

. (c) Robert Monell 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jess Franco doesn’t make “films” anymore, he makes video but the results are still, even in glossy HI-DEF, 100% Jess Franco. I spoke to Jess during the conception of this film and he was quite excited about attempting an updating of VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970), which this in essence is, but it’s also more than that. Carmen Montes is the title character, a female vampire who wears nothing but a long red lined black cape and a tatoo of a double headed python which curls around her torso. She dominates a netherworld {Malaga, Spain} where “walk-ins” appear and disappear as suddenly as her attacks. Her most recent victim is a female reporter (FATA MORGANA), the Jonathan Harker character, and Christie Levin is the demented female Renfield who is kept in a private asylum by the mad Dr. Nostradamus (Antonio Mayans). The reporter has come to invesitage the estate of the legendary actress-composer Oriana Balasz. The Snakewoman may be her descendant or her continuation. It begins and ends and is often interrupted by telezooms onto flocks of tropical birds which recall the kites in VAMPYROS LESBOS. The music is spectral but will not enter the imagination in the same way as the ground breaking score for that 1970 cult classic. Carmen Montes does evoke the late, great Soledad Miranda and the film is filled with captivating images. Franco’s director credit appears over an old b&w photo of Marlene Dietrich and this may be another subterranean hommage to the cinema of Von Sternberg. There are a lot of lesbian interludes (Franco told me he wanted to call it VAMPIRE INTERLUDE) but not as many as in some of his recent work and they don’t smother the film. The acting is above average and it’s worth seeing on theD where it is coupled with DR. WONG’S V
Written by Robert Monell Editar
15 agosto 2018 a 7:19 PM

24 July, 2018

THE JESS FRANCO FILES, Vol. 1: Four Screenplays and a synopsis by Jesus Franco

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As I was reading this essential (for the Jess Franco collector and scholar), massive 581 page volume containing four previously unpublished original screenplays and a synopsis for a proposed 21st Century version of THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF/GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961), ORLOFF 2001, I was also watching Franco's comic-book style LA VENGANZA DEL DOCTOR MABUSE (1971). That film has always struck me as pure Jess Franco in terms of aesthetics, style and theme. I was surprised to learn that it is a scaled down relative of a much more ambitious, unfilmed screenplay, EL CASTILLO DEL FRANKENSTEIN, a macabre Gothic set in 1920s Europe about a mad scientist who is experimenting with human fetuses in order to create a race of supermen. The project was also to be a return to the style of Franco's first horror film, GRITOS EN LA NOCHE. But LA VENGANZA DEL DOCTOR MABUSE, the finished film, is quite different in style from the screenplay. It has an Op Art, late 1960s style somewhat reminiscent of Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971), albeit hurriedly filmed and with an extremely low budget.

Backtracking, the book also presents four other screen texts, LABERINTO, which would become the presently lost SEX CHARADE (1972), LA NOCHE TIENE OCHOS (THE NIGHT HAS EYES), UN TIRO EN LA SIENE (A SHOT IN THE TEMPLE), which was planned as the neo-noir RELAX BABY, and the aforementioned ORLOFF 2001.

THE NIGHT HAS EYES seems to have evolved into the later NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT (1970). Planned as a German-Spanish coproduction, it eventually was filmed as LES CAUCHEMARS NAISSENT LA NUIT, a French production shot in October 1969, just before Franco's last film for producer Harry Alan Towers, EL CONDE DRACULA (1970). Some pickup scenes featuring Soledad Miranda were shot on the set of EUGENIE DE SADE, in early 1970. Franco's script opens with a striking, poetic "Photomontage" which was realized as the dreamlike opening of NIGHTMARES..., embellished by the sensual French dubbing of Josiane Gibert, voicing the doomed heroine, Ana (Diana Lorys). Thought control through hypnotism, though, plays a lead role in the script, as in Franco's 1982 MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE.

A SHOT IN THE TEMPLE presents an even more fascinating conundrum. Jess Franco was forever immersed in what he always termed "black cinema"/film noir. His favorite films were such titles as Robert Siodmak's THE KILLERS, the high point of mid 1940s black and white noir lighting and tonality. The script is a sordid crime thriller built around the director's favorite private detective, Al Pereira. The PI floated through the 50 year Franco filmography, from the 1962 LA MUERTE SILBA UN BLUES until his very last feature, REVENGE OF THE ALLIGATOR LADIES (co-directed by longtime associate-friend-colleague, actor Antonio Mayans, in 2013. The book cites 13 titles which feature the character and doubtless Franco would have made even more Al Pereira adventures had he lived. The project was never completed, but the screenplay has some strong similarities to the 1972  LES EBRANLEES, with Howard Vernon as the detective, entangled in a sleazy nightworld of clubs, hookers and crime.

LES EBRANLESS (LA MAISON DU VICE) a.k.a. VIBRATING GIRLS ends the same way as the script, with the suddenly angered Pereira murdering the "woman" he loves when she informs him that she is a man, a transsexual. The book correctly observes "Actually, Les Ebranlees isn't anything else than the erotic version of Un tiro en la sien...." while pointing out that Franco actually started filming the script after the completion of Les Ebranlees. What would have resulted might have been an immediate remake, albeit with Lina Romay in the role of the transsexual. Or it might have been like the even more hardboilded 1982 Al Pereira noir, BOTAS NEGRAS, LATIGO DE CUERO, which presents the bitter end of Al Pereira, shot down by the woman he loves after a heated sex scene staged in a swamp.

The most fascinating texts are the shortest. The 28 page script for SEX CHARADE is a cyclical, circular construct which opens, as do so many Jess Franco films, as a stage performance of a jungle girl sacrifice to a cannibal tribe. When the lights come on the lead actresses become later involved in adventures in the crime/noir, horror and spy movie categories. It all ends with a redux of the staged jungle rites, just where it all began. Franco would make a science fiction generated version of this in his delightful 1980 EL SEXO ESTA LOCO, one of his very best, most experimental and personal films. There's even a film-within-the-film and numerous generic ruses. The resulting film, made reportedly in 1969-70, became somehow lost, but a severely altered version was reviewed by future Franco actor Jean-Piere Bouyxou, the French critic who played Dr. Orloff in Franco's FEMALE VAMPIRE/La Comtesse Noire (1973). Bouyxou reported a 30 minute variant composited with footage from other, non Franco films, which made little sense on any level. Only the opening jungle girl scene of the original Franco film remained somewhat intact. Will SEX CHARADE ever be recovered. Not likely, but the brief scenario is a revelation. The annotations, as with all the scripts, are detailed and excellent. There's an 18 page file of rare adverts, photos, promos and black and white stills, many from SEX CHARADE.

The final text, ORLOFF 2001, is a real curiosity. Franco planned this at the time he was moving into his "digital period" during which he produced a series of Shot On Video productions on the cheap, often financed by American fans. Some of the better ones are worthy of future evaluation somewhere. Franco wanted either Paul Naschy or Malcolm McDowell as Orloff, Udo Kier was also under consideration for a role. Franco wanted to have a score by Iron Maiden. None of these plans worked out and the story, titled CRIES IN THE NIGHT, was never filmed. The very brief treatment, barely five pages, is just a number of delirious paragraphs describing the time travelling adventures of Emil Orloff, a scientist who, grieving the fate of his injured daughter Melissa, manages to travel back in time to Victorian London to obtain flesh and blood for his hideous attempts to rejuvenate her. A dimensional portal beyond the mist, a strange mirror device used to observe the daughter and a police investigation all play roles in the short, dense scenario.  From Dr. Orloff to Dr. Mabuse to his farthest out flights of fantasies, these scripts and notes allow us delve ever further into the multi-verse which was the world of Jess Franco.

LA VENGANZA DEL DOCTOR MABUSE (1971) The eyes of Jack Taylor in the Spanish version of Jess Franco's Doctor Mabuse thriller. I believe a cut version is on Divisa DVD. I have the good quality German DVD of the bastardized Dr. M Schagt Zu from Artur Brauner's CCC. A pity, since its hard to see the uncut Venganza. Just one of the Jess Franco films discussed at length in this book by Francesco Cesari, Roberto Curti, published by Vial of Delicatessens press. They do a painstaking, thorough job of presenting, deconstructing, annotating and illuminating these rare texts.

It's a bilingual Spanish-English text, translated and introduced by publisher Ferran Herranz. Described as a "philological volume" intended to further research the prolific, exponentially expanding filmography-career of the late Spanish cult movie titan, Jesus Franco Manera/Jesus Franco, best known as "Jess Franco" (1930-2013).

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11 July, 2018

More Jess Franco Blu-rays coming this September!

Two 1980s jungle adventure films, both co-produced by Eurocine, Paris, are due for their HD debuts, from MVD classics, on September, 11, 2018. Both are highly entertaining genre films, the kind which only Jess Franco could make. Not top-tier Franco, but still enjoyable and fascinating testaments to the his interest in pulp genre fictions. 

DIAMONDS OF KILIMANDJARO (1983) is the French version of EL TESORO DE LA DIOSA BLANCA. The latter is the markedly different Spanish version, which could be considered the director's cut. It has different opening and closing scenes which completely change the mood and meaning of the story. It also features some alternate locations, including a fantastic treasure cave with a spiral staircase where a hermit, played by frequent Franco composer Daniel J. White, hides from rescue by "civilization." 

GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS (1985), started, with Jess Franco directing, as TUNDRA Y EL TEMPIO DEL SOL. It ended up being completed by Alain Payet, a Eurocine contract director. I have doubts if this could actually be considered a "Jess Franco" film. Franco has said he doesn't make "silly" films, so you have to be in the mood.  It has some signature Jess Franco scenes, including a torture scene which is a self-homage to THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1973), but is watered down and rather forgettable in the final cut by Eurocine.  Featuring William Berger as Uruck, the ruler of the Amazons, Analia Ivars as a jungle girl, and Antonio Mayans as an adventurer. My favorite Jess Franco jungle films, MACISTE CONTRE LA REINE DES AMAZONES (1973), X-312 FLIGHT TO HELL (1970) and LA ESCLAVA BLANCA (1985) are not scheduled for Blu-ray release anytime soon. And how about ROBINSON AND HIS SEVEN WILD SLAVES (1971)?!  They're fun-in-the-sun Franco outings.

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

09 June, 2018

THE DAY OF THE PURPLE SUN (Carsten Frank, 2017)

'The Day of the Purple Sun': Part I (2017)

| Drama | 2017 (Germany)
'The Day of the Purple Sun': Part I Poster
''THE DAY OF THE PURPLE SUN'': The cosmos of the incurable Margarethe. Her journey through the mysteries of the Egypt underworld. Will she be coming forth by day?



Stars Margarethe von Stern

Margarethe (Margarethe von Stern) is a desperate woman dying of some kind of consumptive disease. She frenetically wanders through a bleak, bizarre wilderness toward an underworld inhabited by the ancient Egyptian deity, Anubis.

This two part experimental epic was produced, co-written and directed by German producer-director Carsten Frank. It was co-written and stars the actress Margarethe von Stern, who also appeared in Frank's previous SECRETS OF A SOUL (2012) and BESTIE (2013). Frank was also involved in several Jess Franco films,  and appeared in the late director's final film, along with Ms. von Stern, REVENGE OF THE ALLIGATOR LADIES (2013). He also appeared as an actor in Franco's INCUBUS (2002), an interesting remake of LORNA, THE EXORCIST (1974). and was an actor in Franco's KILLER BARBYS VS. DRACULA, which he also co-produced.

The Day of the Purple Sun can only be described as an experimental horror film, with visionary and occult elements obvious throughout the unsettling, but hypnotic proceedings. If one watches both parts in one sitting, it's 2 and one half hours of being immersed in a mysterious, grotesque, fantastic underworld. The film is disturbing, sometimes gut wrenching, and not for those with a sensitive stomach. It illustrates, with tilted, obsessively probing photography and an outre soundscape, a decaying, fallen world not unlike the death-trip transgressions of Jorg Buttgereit (NEKRONAMTIK). But this film goes even further into that hellish domain. 

Actress Margarethe von Stern is absolutely magnetic as the pathetic lost soul whom the film is built around. Dying, starving and desperate, she wanders through muddy exteriors in which naked tree branches poke out her eyes at one point. She is observed by a frog-demon and encounters rotting carcasses of other animals, maggots and other creatures of the death cycle. With her large, expressive eyes and seemingly elastic limbs she acts out the role with brilliantly expressed body language instead of dialogue. In fact, there is very little in the film. The first 20 plus minutes is dialogue free and consists of her in the wilderness as the sinister, edgy, industrial soundscape of Maggy Moon drones under the action. 

There is a ritualistic quality to each scene, especially in Part 2, in which she is taken to the ancient Egyptian underworld by the masked deity, Anubis, played by director Frank. One can almost smell the odor of decay and death at certain times and the atmosphere is rich in occult electricity, mystery and a sense of entering alternate realities. I can only compare it to certain works by Kenneth Anger (LUCIFER RISING), the final scenes of Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND, and the New York Underground films of filmmaker, actor, performance artist Jack Smith (FLAMING CREATURES). 

This is very much worth seeing for the down to earth, emotionally intense, existential presence of Margarethe von Stern, a performance artist who knows no boundaries. She projects all the emotions of the human rainbow and an other-worldly quality as well.

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

05 June, 2018

Coming July 2018 from Le Chat Qui Fume on Bluray & DVD

DIGIPACK/Full Version/1920x1080p HD resolution 16/9 DVD/DTS HD Mono French&English tracks with Eng subs/All Region/Bonus: Jess and Pamela Stanford, Jacqueline Laurent, Alain Petit. FRANCE 1974. Essential Jess Franco with Pamela Stanford, Lina Romay, Jacqueline Laurent, Guy Delorme,  Howard Vernon and Jess Franco. An updating of Faust with the Devil as a woman.

17 May, 2018

The Janine Reynaud Story (1930-2018). In words and images...

Image result for el caso de las dos bellezas
"El caso de las dos bellezas" 1968: In this Jess Franco "Red Lips" psychedelic horror-comedy Janine Reynaud plays an art thief who, in this scene, becomes an element in the POP ART mise-en-scene....

Home Video Trailer from Anchor Bay Entertainment

Monica Swinn
Monica Swinn RIP...😪😪😪

Robert Monell Didn't know she had passed away. Thanks 

First of all, this is how I found out about the passing of Jess Franco actress Janine Reynaud. It was on Alex Mendibil's Jess Franco Facebook Group EL FRANCONOMICON, in a post by another Franco colleague, Belgian actress Monica Swinn. It now appears that she did not die, as previously reported, on Jan. 30, 2018, but much more recently, possibly on May 13, in Sugarland, Texas, where she lived in retirement after retiring from her film career.. The cause of death was reportedly pancreatic cancer. She had a long and very interesting life, first as a model for French designer Jean Partou and as an actress in Euorspy films, a Spaghetti Western, several giallos, more than a dozen sex comedies directed by her then husband, actor-director Michel Lemoine. 

Some notable roles were in French erotica made by Max Pecas (JE SUIS UNE NYMPONMANE, 1971) and Jose Benazeraf (FRUSTRATION, 1971). Her three films made with the prolific Jess Franco were NECRONOMICON (SUCCUBUS, 1967), SADISTEROTICA (ROTE LIPPEN, 1968) and BESAME MONSTRUO, 1968.  She was also in the Jess Franco-related CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH, a 1968 German lensed horror-melodrama in which she appeared with most of the cast of NECRONOMICON. Jess Franco reportedly wrote the original story, which was directed by German actor-singer-producer-director Adrian Hoven (MARK OF THE DEVIL 2).

Above: The Bitches, directed by Michel Lemoine, starring Janine Reynaud, a 1973 erotic drama.

Whenever or wherever she left planet Earth, she left it a more interesting, mysterious place due to her exotic, ambiguous presence in all the European genre films in which she appeared. My own two favorites are definitely Jess Franco's NECRONOMICON and Benazeraf's FRUSTRATION. Both directors were prolific, major league popular artists working in commercial erotica and genre riffs. It just so happens that she was at the center of their very best films. One cannot imagine either film without her.

Above: Eyes wide shut. Like a surrealist's muse, she is the polymorphous perverse magnet which holds Franco's NECRONOMICON together....

In NECRONOMICON she plays the predatory, exhibitionist Lorna Green, an S&M performance artist based in Lisbon. The film opens with an extended sadomasochistic performance in which she taunts and tortures a male and female tied to crosses in a dungeon. Then, when it appears she is going to kill the victims, Franco cuts to the audience in a nightclub and it's all revealed to be a show. That is a key Jess Franco scene in which he establishes the illusion vs. reality conceit which would be the central theme for the remainder of his 50 year career. Janine Reynaud, dressed completely in black, commands attention as an icon of Fantastique. With her 1960's "big hair" and drowning pool eyes, she is the immortal woman, as in Alain Robbe-Grillet's first film L'IMMORTELLE. A dangerous, prowling red head, a man and woman killer.

She proved adept at physical comedy, in the two Op/Pop Art follow ups directed by Franco, EL CASO DE LAS DOS BELLAZAS and BESAME MONSTRUO
Both of those are worth making the effort to see in their Spanish language versions, which are very different from the US release versions, KISS ME, MONSTER and TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS.

Her very best performance may be in Benazeraf's erotic melodrama, FRUSTRATION, in which she plays a quiet, repressed maid of a well-to-do French couple. The entire film is shot from the point of view of her character. Benazeraf puts the viewer in that point of view in the very first shots of the film and it remains there until the grim ending. The character is the polar opposite of Lorna Green in NECRONOMICON. She's a smoldering, withdrawn, mute witness to the comings and goings of her employers, while she fantasizes about wild orgies involving them, some in historical settings. It's very much in the style of Luis Bunuel's BELLE DE JOUR and DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, both of which illustrate how a powerless woman becomes liberated through her sexual fantasy life.  It's a film desperately in need of a new HD presentation. I saw it on an English dubbed vhs in the 1990s* and was struck by its stark, simple Ingmar Bergman style examination of the unconscious mind of an unassuming woman.Image may contain: one or more people and text

Before getting into continental erotica she played supporting roles, often as a seductive villain, in such Eurospy thrillers as OPERATION WHITE SHARK, Antonio Margheriti's KILLER ARE CHALLENGED and YPOTRON (all 1966). It's not exaggerating to say that she is the most memorable element in all three of those modest adventure films."

After hearing of her passing I contacted her former co-star of OPERATION WHITE SHARK, the retired American actor, Rodd Dana, who was a close friend of hers. What he wrote back says a lot about her: " Ciao Roberto, Heard from Tom and you about Janine's passing. Sad. She was a wonderful, magical talent" Magical indeed. We won't be seeing the likes of her again anytime soon.  

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

12 May, 2018

Im Schloss der Blutigen Begierde 1968 - English subs - HORROR/EXPLOITATION

Another suggestion for Jess Franco Birthday viewing. This was released in a crudely dubbed, cut down edit on VHS, under the title CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH, in the late 1980s. A more recent German language Blu-ray has surfaced on YouTube, It's the uncut version and in very good video quality. Watch it before it gets removed!  Howard Vernon, Adrian Hoven, Michel Lemoine and his then wife Janine Reyaud are featured. They were all in the previous year's SUCCUBUS/NECROMOMICON (1967), directed by Jess Franco and co-produced by the same company, Adrian Hoven's Aquila Film.


Jess Franco reportedly (according to Howard Vernon) came up with the original treatment (written on a bar napkin?) for this exploitationer, directed by producer Hoven himself. One of those decadent surveys of decadence which were so popular, post LA DOLCE VITA, in the 1960s. The budget conscious Hoven recycled the cast of Franco's NECRONOMICON (SUCCUBUS, 1967), sans Jack Taylor. Michel Lemoine, was also in the trio of Aquila films (including KISS ME, MONSTER and SADISTEROTICA/TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS) and here plays a wealthy rapist, Baron Brack, who gets very rough justice at the hands of the Earl of Saxon (Howard Vernon). I think Franco may have given the idea for this to Hoven as a thank you for bankrolling and letting him direct NECROMONICON just the way he wanted.

German actor-producer-singer Adrian Hoven, who directed this under the beard Percy Parker, would go on appear in several Rainer Werner Fassbinder films (WORLD ON A WIRE, FOX AND HIS FRIENDS) and become involved with the infamous MARK OF THE DEVIL film series, appearing in and directing the second installment, WITCHES (1972).

IM SCHLOSS DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE is fun, but nowhere near as layered or unique as a Jess Franco film. It's kind of a Gothic-Eurotrash fantasia which unfolds in the late 1960s and the 17th Century. Howard Vernon holds the show together, and it's always good to have Janine Reynaud on hand as a party girl. In any case, Happy Birthday to Jess Franco, gone 5 years ago. He is missed.

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

08 May, 2018


VD Marquee Classics
Coming to Blu-ray September 2018 for the FIRST TIME IN NORTH AMERICA from MVD CLASSICS...
This disc will be region free.
$24.95 SRP
This is actually the first HD release of this 1980s jungle adventure, with some cannibals thrown in (it's actually reviewed in the AURUM HORROR ENCYCLOPEDIA). Interestingly enough, the Spanish language version, at a reported 87 m, seems to be the director's cut, whereas Eurocine, the French co-producer, added an alternate opening, including a small plane crash which strands the future jungle queen and her father (Franco regular composer and actor, Daniel J. White) in the bush (obviously Southern Spain. 
The French version also features an abrupt, downbeat ending, while the Spanish ends things in a more Saturday afternoon adventure-serial fashion, which signals the touch of serial fan Franco himself. There are also some interesting locales, including a golden cave and a treasure, which have a less prominent place in the French version, credited Cole Polley (Claude Plaut?). Daniel Katz, a veteran of the director's later Spanish career, appears as the downed pilot in the French cut, but is totally absent in the Spanish version.

One hopes that both versions could be included on this HD release. We'll see...

21 April, 2018

LA NOCHE DE LOS SEXOS ABIERTOS (Jess Franco, 1981-Golden Films Internacional)

Release dateSpain Feb 23, 1983
Country  Spain
Runtime94 min
Technical details2.35:1
[King Home Video VHS, Spain. VIDEO MERCURY FILMS, 1994. There is no known DVD release of this film]

Copyright Robert Monell, 1998-2018
Moira (Lina Romay) is a sexy cabaret stripper by night and a secret agent by day. Actually, she's kind of both at all hours. She is attempting to gain information on the Segunda Guerra Mundial, an international criminal group who are about to locate a hidden consignment of gold bars which was secreted beneath the Canary Islands desert during the last days of World War II (making this a kind of unofficial sequel to OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES/LAS TUMBAS DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTS-1981).

Private detective Al Crosby (a stand-in for Franco-favorite Al Pereira) is also on the trail of the gold and teams up with Moira. Eventually, Professor Von Klaus (Canary Islander Albino Graziani) provides a complex code which, when deciphered, will reveal the location. Moira is briefly captured by the opposition, tortured, and then freed by Al. They make a concerted effort to break the word puzzle, and finally succeed in locating Von Klaus's desert villa, in which there is a secret room containing the gold.

First though, the right notes, from a Liszt composition, have to be played on an organ which will electronically trigger the unlock mechanism. 

When Moira performs the piece, the door opens and the treasure awaits them. The only problem is that the counter agents have pursued them by helicopter and plan to relieve Al and Moira of their newly found fortune.

Considering the fact that Jess Franco has returned to Euro-spy genre again and again throughout his career, it would seem the genre holds a special fascination for him, as well as providing the prolific director with narrative action that functions as a necessary backdrop to his trademark erotic scenes, personal touches, visual spirals, and private jokes. The most outrageous scene features Romay performing an elaborate horizontal strip during which she licks some erotic pictures from pages of a sleazy sex magazine while a disco style song plays over the scene. The words to the song repeat over and over "The taste, taste, taste, taste, taste of your sperm"! The lurid level is dialed up to 10 plus here.

It is impossible to separate the sex from
any generic conventions at this point in Franco's career. His later Euro-spy feature DARK MISSION (1988), offers evidence that he could leave aside the obsessive focus on eroticism and make a relatively straight commercial product, but as this more personal early 80s period and his recent films show Franco is at his best when he is
allowed to be Franco. And, as we shall see, this is much more of a Neo-Noir than a typical Eurospy film.

LA NOCHE... opens with a deliriously filmed striptease by Lina Romay, performed in the driver's seat of a classic 1950s American car installed in a surreal, ultra-glitzy night spot, where the sexy action is bathed in gorgeous neon hues. Lina's gyrations and Franco's camera work and lighting design seem in perfect harmony this time around, and the sequence is hypnotic.

There are many shootings, double crosses, sexual torture sessions (one outrageously borders on a XXX level of sado-erotic intensity), exotic locales, and Lina Romay has never looked sexier in very skimpy outfits. 

Franco's Golden Films Internacional period, running through the 1980s, was perhaps his most personal and unfettered. He told me when I interviewed him in 2005 that he was completely free to shoot what he wanted and edit the film without fear of producer [Emilio Larraga, whom Franco told me got into serious tax trouble with Spanish authorities] interference or later revision. But he also worked unpaid upfront and with very low "poor" budgetary resources. Nonetheless, as with LA NOCHE.. he sometimes made his special magic happen. 

He also was pleased when I praised the visual style and atmosphere of what he described as his "black film" [Film Noir]. Film Noir was his favorite genre and he often referred to Robert Siodmak's 1946 version of THE KILLERS as his favorite film. He seemed surprised I had seen his film and appreciated what he was trying to work into it. He went on to say he tried to make the film into an equivalent of the 1940s and 50s American Noirs. Instead of dark and murky, it's teeming with bright shocks of orange, lemon and lime hues. Common colors found on the Canary Island locations. 

Note: According to Nzoog, the Spanish title roughly translates as "The Night of the Open Sex"....

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

Robert Monell