26 January, 2015

SHINING SEX- Part 2 (1975)


The above Italian poster, suggesting a high spirited Euro sex comedy a la Edwige Fenech, couldn't be more misleading....

Credited to "Dan Simon" this no-budget science fiction sex number is one of Jess Franco's most imaginative and daring experiments in genre digression. SHINING SEX-LA FILLE AU SEXE BRILLANT was filmed back to back with MIDNIGHT PARTY, according to Monica Swinn~on EL FRANCONOMICON~in the same locations (mainly the geometric luxury hotel complex, LE GRANDE MOTTE,  in South France), with much the same cast and crew.

A Eurocine/Brux Inter Films-Brussels production. Lina Romay stars as a ditzy stripper in both films but there the similarity ends. MIDNIGHT PARTY registers as a termite Eurospy comedy, with the director himself as Radeck, Agent 008, a villain who practices the fine art of torture. SHINING SEX... is a grim, downward spiral into zombie seduction, mind control and death, all watched over by Jess Franco, playing a Hammeresque investigator, Dr. Seward.  As usual, performance and watching, that unique dynamic with which the director is so fascinated, takes center stage.
www.youtube.com


[ Above: Metaphysical transformation, Hollywood style, cf Jess Franco's SHINING SEX]

 Performance is always dangerous, exciting and a means into an altered state of being. Here it leads to an altered state of consciousness as giggly stripper Cinthia (Lina Romay) is introduced applying makeup, then onstage, performing "Shining Sex" a dance of her own creation which captures the attention of two mysterious customers in the club, Alpha (Evelyn Scott rn Evelyne Deher) and Andros (Ramon Ardid), the latter wearing sunglasses which seem to signal a lounge-Eurocime-spy lizard. The wall paper in the club has rectangular patterns and when Cinthia joins the couple in their room they enter that part of the hotel through a another semi rectangular opening.

The sprawling hotel structure is formed from cubicles, living spaces, forming large pyramids which hover over the area and bay. Thumping industrial sounds and sparkling impulses on the soundtrack make the sci fi undercurrent all the more palpable. It all exists on some subliminal plane, as do Alpha and co. beings from an alternate dimensions scoping out our world and on a mission to exterminate a psychic (Monica Swinn) and the biologist, Dr. Van Helsing (Olivier Mathot) who have become aware of their existence and the threat they pose.

The most daring segment of this film is the 5 minute plus, dialogue free journey taken by Cinthia and Van Helsing down a river in "Africa" as drums are heard beating on the soundtrack. Nothing happens, but we are treated to views (via stock footage) of various tropical animal life in and on the banks of the river as the two characters seem lost in thought as they remain separate on different parts of the vessel. It's a hypnotic sequence, taking the viewing into a twilight zone beyond time, space and narrative functionality. The are moments like this spread throughout, like the presence of the rose on the wall during the sex scene between Romay and Scott, but this sequence either shuts the audience down or invites the adventurous into a new kind of cinema adventure. Few will take the latter offer, since, after all "it's only a sex film." 

Andros, Alpha's slave, tells Cintha he was a normal human until his boat entered a mist, evoking the transforming fog of Jack Arnold's THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. But the stakes here are equally delirious, and deadly. Alpha will seduce and destroy the targets through a sexual transference of a poison inserts in her vagina via an unguent. Hence, as often in Jess Franco's ,Sex=Death. Cinthia informs the psychic that she is there to make love to her and to kill her, and that's what she does. Much like the love unto death interludes in LA COMTESSE NOIRE 1973 where Romay was a female vampire who loved and dispatched male and female partners after removing essential fluids, death through sexual dehydration. And both films conclude with Jess Franco witnessing the death of Lina Romay, something that sadly would occur in real life when the actress preceded the director, tragically passing away on  February 15, 2012at the age of 57. Jess Franco would die in 2013 at the age of 82, shortly after completing his last feature, the digital comedy AL PEREIRA VS THE ALLIGATOR LADIES.

Life, love, sex, death, that's what it's all about. In Jess Franco's universe performance becomes the invisible cement which seals them all together. And if it's on film, it becomes immortal.The loved one dies as the lover watches while the film is watched by an audience of human beings who will someday also die.

SHINING SEX exists in at least 3 versions, an 85 minute hardcore, a 95 minute cut which omits some hardcore footage and a 102 minute cut, on which this review is based. Longer versions are also rumored to exist in the vaults of Eurocine. 

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

22 January, 2015

ROLAND, THE WORLD'S SEXIEST MAN (1974) Updated....

Updated from the Robert Monell Archives
(C) Robert Monell 2015
Roland, the World's Sexiest Man

1974 104 MINUTES European Trash Cinema (U.S. import) DIRECTED BY CLIFFORD BROWN (JESUS FRANCO) WITH: FRED WILLIAMS, LINA ROMAY, BIGOTINI, WILLY BRAQUE, OLIVIER MATHOT, PAMELA SANFORD, MONICA SWINN, ANNA GLADYSEK, RAMÓN ARDID, VICTOR COSTA, VICTOR MENDÉS, SUZUKI, CAROLINE RIVIÊRE.

(a.k.a. ROLAND, L'HOMME LE PLUS SEXY DU MONDE; LE JOUISSEUR; DER SEX PLAYBOY)

I once called this one of JF's "finest" De Nesle efforts but I've changed my mind as it doesn't hold up very well despite an admirable premise....

A wealthy ex-playboy, Roland (Fred Williams) tires of married life and decides to return to his old ways. He poses as a butler and becomes a servant to rich and beautiful women, but many complications ensue. His "wife" is the imposing Barbara Bolt (Brigitte Monnin) is a frisky career woman, the President of an International Organization of porno stores, whose demands cannot be met by the intimidated Count Roland. An interesting class-gender conflict ensues, allowing Roland to have numerous erotic encounters to satisfy his bruised ego, the paying porn cinema customer but not necessarily the average fan of Jess Franco's outre vision.

The title of this sly comedy of manners indicates Franco wanted to infuse this amusing trifle with a sense of irony. Roland may be handsome but as played by Williams behaves like a run-of-the-mill male model, albeit with a little more humor and liveliness than this usually dull actor musters in his other Franco roles from this period. He's especially inadequate as the hobbled super spy in THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA. Franco aims for the tone of a Howard Hawks screwball comedy, but verbal and visual puns, not physical comedy, are more his forté. And as the only available videos on the U.S. mail-order circuit are in French, those unfamiliar with that language will miss the satiric barbs at male chauvinism and upper-class arrogance.
As Roland's pudgy, mischievous manservant Malou, Richard de Conninck aka Bigotini, a familiar Franco actor who often worked as the director's assistant, just about steals the show from Williams. Most of the footage follows Roland as he is seduced by various women, and in an especially amusing scene, tries to avoid the advances of one husband who also happens to like men.

The cinematography is colorful, with occasionally interesting camera angles, but the lack of any action other than sexual may bore those who are not Franco enthusiasts. This 1974 sex farce is one of Franco's least screened Robert De Nesle features, although released on French VHS [Videobox] it is not available in anything near HD in any format. A sometimes subtle, somewhat tender look at social roles and the presence of invisible class barriers which cut people off from erotic expression. It almost makes one wonder what the result would have been played straight.... Actually, this is the kind of French bedroom farce at which Blake Edwards excelled.

Andre Benichou's swinging Jazz score is wonderful and the sun dappled, color intensive, cubist frames remind one of Cezanne with a touch of Impressionist color patterns. And no film with Pamela Stanford, Monica Swinn and Lina Romay (as Loulou Laverne) in the cast can be all bad. It remains, alas, rather tiresome at its full length. The version under review is reportedly cut from 120 m!

Don't hold your breath for a Blu ray restoration.... but you never know.

Robert Monell

10 January, 2015

Santiago Moncada



1972 Sergio Martino giallo on which Santiago Moncada is credited as a co screenwriter, his credit was most likely for quota purposes.
This 1984 Jess Franco neo-noir written by Santiago Moncaca, a remake of the 1975 thriller,  ACE OF HEARTS aka Juego sucio en Panamá, directed by Tulio Demicheli and also scripted by Moncada.

Santiago Moncada is a prolific Spanish writer, a novelist, playwright and screenwriter of such Jess Franco films as LA ESCLAVA BLANCA (1985),  LAS ÚLTIMAS DE FILIPINAS (1984) and the excellent JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA, the last is in dire need of a HD restoration in an English friendly version. It is a 1980s neo-noir set in a tropical city, featuring an outstanding performance by the late William Berger as an alcoholic writer trapped in plot hatched by corrupt colleagues.

Moncada also wrote the screenplays for such essential Spanish horror films as EL CAMPANA DEL INFIERNO (1973), THE CORRUPTION OF CHRIS MILLER (1972). He also wrote the violent Spanish western CUT THROATS NINE (1972),  the Spanish zombie films THE SWAMP OF THE RAVENS and VOODOO SANGRIENTO (1972). He also wrote the script for Mario Bava's psycho thriller A HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1969) and is credited on other Italian-Spanish thrillers (ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, THE SATANIC MECHANIC). He has written numerous plays since the 1960s and more recently had some success with some Spanish productions of some of his work..
(C) Robert Monell, 2012


 [BELOW: From Complete Index of World Film]

JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA

Film Information


Titles JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA
FOUL PLAY IN CASABLANCA
Main Director JESUS FRANCO
Year 1984
Length 103 Minutes
Countries Spain
Genre Crime
Series

Actors WILLIAM BERGER
ANALIA IVARS
VICTORIA ADAMS
ANTONIO MAYANS
RICARDO PALACIOS
LUIS BARBOO
CARLOS MENDI
SILVIA MONTEZ
JUAN COZAR
JORGE LAVERNY
LUIS BARBOO
ALFREDO KIER
Directors JESUS FRANCO
Director Of Photography JUAN SOLER
Composer JULIAN SACRISTAN
Author Santiago Moncada
Companies MANACOA FILMS
Movie Posters JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA


[Below: Es.wikipedia]
  • El stress

    Stress significa la tensión de la vida, el desgaste que produce la vida a cada instante, y tal vez por eso nadie puede respirar en el mundo sin experimentar cierto grado de stress en todo momento. Empleando una definición más científica, stress es el común denominador de todas las reacciones de adaptación del organismo. La vida de cada individuo puede considerarse en realidad como un proceso constante de adaptación a los acontecimientos de su existencia. Pero en ocasiones, tal adaptación resulta imposible física y mentalmente, lo que provoca en el sujeto una larga, silenciosa y enconada lucha interior. Una lucha sin esperanza que concluye con su derrumbamiento.
    Ésta es la historia de una de esas batallas, íntima y desgarradora, librada en el transcurso de una tarde de lluvia. Es la crónica de la última y absurda convulsión de una mujer casada antes de aceptar su derrota. Es el relato de la aventura de un hombre y de una mujer, de lo que siente, piensan y hablan durante unas horas mientras se conocen, se aman, se odian, se compadecen y se separan. Es un episodio anónimo, sin sentido ni justificación, que comienza y acaba bruscamente. Ella y él en una ciudad cualquiera, una tarde de otoño. Llueve. Ella y él, solitarios y desdichados, arrastran el peso de sus vidas.
  • Santiago Moncada

    Santiago Moncada Mercadal, escritor, dramaturgo y guionista, nació en Madrid en 1928.
    Ha escrito varias novelas, entre las que destacan Carta a nadie, galardonada con el Premio Elisenda de Montcada, y El stress,finalista del Premio Planeta 1966.
    Donde ha sido más prolífico es en su vertiente como autor teatral, con más de cincuenta obras en su haber: Violines y trompetas (1977), Entre mujeres (1988), retitulada como Brujas (2010), esta obra permaneció en cartel durante más de diez años, Cena para dos (1991), Esmokin (2001).
    Su creatividad también la ha puesto al servicio del mundo del cine, y es autor de unos setenta guiones para películas rodadas en varios países: Querido profesor (1966), La campana del infierno (1973), La corrupción de Chris Miller (1973), Cuando el cuerno suena (1974), Cazar un gato negro (1976), El hombre que supo amar (1976), Despido improcedente (1980), Gorilas a todo ritmo (1982), Descanse en piezas (1987), La familia… 30 años después (1999).
    Actualmente es presidente de la Fundación Autor y de la Sociedad General de Autores y Editores de España.
  •  
COMING SOON: SHINING SEX, PART 2....

04 January, 2015

ILSA, THE MAD BUTCHER (1977) Golden Goya Collection Blu ray review by Wearethedead

Guest Review by Wearethedead
ISLA, THE MAD BUTCHER Blu-ray; Golden Goya Collection

The Blu-ray of GRETA, HAUS OHNE MANNER aka ILSA, THE WICKED WARDEN/ISLA, THE MAD BUTCHER seems to be an amazing example of the Golden Goya collection from Erwin C. Dietrich. So far I've upgraded this one and Frauengefängnis and have been very happyily impressed with the upgrades. Dyanne Thorne, Lina Romay and the always underrated Tania Busselier lead the cast in this sordid tale of women in prison, with one of Uncle Jess' most inventive plots in this kind of scenario. 

 This film really stands out as one of the first Jess Franco films I saw growing up as a teen on VHS. Lina's performance in particular is a real stand-out. The one of hers that made me take notice and want to know more about the actress. This doesn't always happen watching B-cinema, but in this case I'm glad it did. She plays the lead inmate as Juana, and also pet to Dyanne Thorne's warden in this psychiatric clinic. I still rate this among Lina's best films followed by CELESTINE, LES POSSEDEES DU DIABLE, PLAISIR A TROIS, SINFONIA EROTICA, GEMIDOS DE PLACER, MIL SEXO TIENE LA NOCHE and BOTAS NEGRA LATIGO DE CUERO. 

The film plays a bit more like entertainment than the earlier Frauengefängnis.Possibly from Dietrich's insistence for a more polished product. However, still containing the odd smaller characters like Peggy Markhoff 's "champion knitter" and still has all the touches of Jess Franco cinema even if the camera was by Ruedi Küttel, and not Jess himself. Initially, my introduction to GRETA came via two different versions on VHS, then later in 2000 Anchor Bay released a DVD version with great commentary by Dyanne and Howard Maurer. I was aware that Dietrich had released a DVD version on his own in 2003 imprint but I never got that one. My guess at the time was it would be close in quality to the Anchor Bay edition and instead I collected some other titles in those 2003 releases. Fast forward to 2014 and I'm seeing his Blu-ray release of GRETA. Firstly, the video quality seems first rate. Interior scenes that appeared shot indoors at night or with little ambient light are strikingly lit, almost artificially. 

The first view of this Blu-ray visually almost played like a new film as I had seen this countless times in the old version. Of course, it's the same film but it did take a bit to get used to this new quality presentation.This film could possibly raise an interesting debate over vastly improved video quality changing the aura and mood of the film. This new version again looks great but some of the contrasts of the old version I miss in some scenes but not in others. The Blu offers audio options in German, Italian, English and French with the added coup of English and Japanese subtitles. The addition of the English subtitles was another reason I wanted to reinvest in this title as to be fair, I thought my Anchor Bay edition looked well enough.For some reason, Dietrich's interest in providing subtitles has only passed on to a few of these reissues. Not sure why since for many this is a reason to upgrade. His previous releases already looked very good so it's uncertain what the angle was in leaving them off. Also included is some interview footage and some great photo stills in the extras as well,,,

(C) Wearethedead, 2014

28 December, 2014

Raul Artigot (1936-2014) R.I.P.

 (C) Robert Monell, 2014

The distinctive visual stylist who shot Jess Franco's THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN, LES DEMONS and directed one of my favorite Spanish horrors, THE WITCHES' MOUNTAIN (1972), died on Christmas day. He directed three films but was much more active as a cinematographer. He also was DP on such European genre favorites as THE CANNIBAL MAN (1972) and La ragazza dal pigiama giallo...

As both director and DP Artigot was skilled at creating striking exterior imagery, the eerie witch haunted Pyrenees in THE WITCHES' MOUNTAIN, and interiors, the Gothic cubism of the strange chambers of Cagliostro's castle in RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN. The low budget period piece LES DEMONS looks rather sumptuous through the lens of Artigot, whose painterly compositions catch the eye with stylized patterns and colorful juxtapostions of costumes and medieval settings.
 




16 December, 2014

Alpha Waves: La Grande Motte, Alternate Realities, the Mirror Stage in the Sexual Science Fiction of Shining Sex

As in many Jess Franco films, SHINING SEX-LA FILLE AU SEXE BRILLANT opens with an erotic performance...
In SHINING SEX (1975) Eros is an existential state in a cubist world. Cynthia and Alpha enter La Grande Motte...

Cubist architecture
at La Grande Motte

A     
La Grande Motte, Southern France, today...
         
Cynthia and Madame Pecal (Monica Swinn) in the mirror...
                       

Dr. Seward (Jess Franco) is the paranormal investigator...

     

Thanks to Marito Almada for helping me to see the longer version this film.


(C) Robert Monell  2014     

07 December, 2014

NEW POLL: What Was The Best Jess Franco Blu-ray/DVD release of 2014

There were a lot of European releases of Jess Franco films on Bllu-ray this in 2014, many more than in the US/N.America. I expect that trend to continue in 2015. Promised but still not released in 2014 titles such as CRYPT OF THE CONDEMNED and REVENGE OF THE ALLIGATOR LADIES have not been included. One can only hope that Redemption Films will resume their Blu-ray releases, including the key JF title THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972). Ascot Elite's THE GOYA COLLECTION probably released the most titles of any single company. I have still to catch up myself with many of those releases. My own favorites were Redemption's THE DEMONS and Severin's BLOODY MOON, the latter was a pleasantly surprising revelation. A number of titles could not be included for formatting reasons, but if a title is missing from the list of selections, just write it in the Comments below and I will include them in the final tabulation. Also, please excuse and ignore any mistaken 2013 releases listed.

  • Bloody Moon [Blu-ray]

image

30 November, 2014

According to a post on the El Franconomicon FACEBOOK page by Tim Lucas, Alain Petit's landmark, comprehensive study of the films and career of Jess Franco will be republished. It will reportedly include the original texts and illustrations, along with other new elements, in upgraded, updated, corrected editions. The Artus publication is slated for April, 2015. The post states that it will be published in two different editions, one of which will include a DVD of a rarely seen Jess Franco film. The publisher is Artus, the French DVD company who has released several digital restorations of Franco films (THE OBSCENE MIRROR).
 
Jess-Franco-Manacoa-Files-vol-1-by-Alain-Petit-1994-in-french

   



THE MANACOA FILES was published as a series of zines starting in 1994 and is probably still the primary text on the films of the late, prolific Jess Franco, reviewing all of his films, with detailed credits, presenting related illustrations, interviews, sidebars, data and comments by Petit, who is a noted film historian and was also a collaborator with the director, both as a writer (PLAISIR A TROIS, THE CRAZY NUNS) and actor, (THE MIDNIGHT PARTY, JULIETTE DE SADE, TENDER FLESH).

This is very welcome news indeed. Petit's intimate working knowledge of the director and his career are invaluable, and though I have attempted to read the texts in French, it will be a revelation to have them in English also.

I will post more details as soon as possible. RM

THE MANACOA FILES to be republished in 2015

According to a post on the El Franconomicon FACEBOOK page by Tim Lucas, Alain Petit's legendary, comprehensive study of the films and career of Jess Franco will be republished in an upgraded, updated, corrected editions in April, 2015. It will be illustrated and published in two different editions, one of which will include a DVD of a rarely seen Jess Franco film. The publisher is Artus, the French DVD company who has released several restorations of Franco films (THE OBSCENE MIRROR).
 
Jess-Franco-Manacoa-Files-vol-1-by-Alain-Petit-1994-in-french

   



THE MANACOA FILES was published as a series of zines starting in 1994 and is probably still the primary text on the late, prolific Jess Franco, reviewing all of his films, with detailed credits and presenting related illustrations, interviews, data and comments by Petit, who is a noted film historian and was also a collaborator with the director, both as a writer (PLAISIR A TROIS, THE CRAZY NUNS) and actor, (THE MIDNIGHT PARTY, JULIETTE DE SADE, TENDER FLESH).

This is very welcome news indeed. Petit's intimate working knowledge of the director and his career are invaluable, and though I have attempted to read the texts in French, it will be a revelation to have them in English also.

I will post more details as soon as possible. RM

26 November, 2014

IM SCHLOSS DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE (Adrian Hoven, 1968)

Thanks to a post on the El Franconomicon FACEBOOK page, I have recently discovered that this 1968 Adrian Hoven Gothic sex-horror romp is actually being prepared for a Blu-ray + DVD Combo release by Subkultur Entertainment.. Apparently this will be the complete version, including scenes deleted before the original theatrical release. I've only been able to see the vintage INTERNATIONAL VIDEO PRESENTATIONS US VHS release and a version on the VEEHD.com website, both of which run approximately 77m. OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO lists a longer runtime of 85m.*

The IVP US VHS cover. The runtime is listed as 85m, but it actually runs at approx. 77m, including end music.**

The shorter English language version is badly dubbed, choppy and much in need in the kind of surreal dispatch and personal verve a Jess Franco could have infused it with. In fact, according to the note in OBSESSION..., frequent Jess Franco actor Howard Vernon, who plays a key role here, claimed that the film was based on an idea, possibly a treatment, by Franco. Made by Hoven, using the beard Percy G. Parker, with much of the same cast and crew of NECRONOMICON (1967), this appears to have been the last of the four films shot with this cast and crew, and doesn't appear to have been shot on ny of the Spanish locations of the other three. It seems to have been lensed mostly on German locations.

Hoven, of course, was a popular West German singer/actor/director/producer who formed Aquila Films-Berlin, and in collaboration with the Italian money man Pier A. Caminecci bankrolled NECRONOMICON aka SUCCUBUS, BESAME, MONSTRUO aka KISS ME, MONSTER and EL CASO DE LAS DOS BELLEZAS (all 1967), all of which feature Janine Reynaud as the lead actress and have major roles for her then husband, actor-director (SEVEN WOMEN FOR SATAN) Michel Lemoine. Hoven also appears in NECRONOMICON, TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS and KISS ME, MONSTER. Caminecci makes appearances in NECRONOMICON and in this rather pretentious, poorly paced outing.

CASTLE... opens during a wild party in a Black Forest castle. It is present day, but Reynaud, Lemoine and others repair to the nearby castle of the Earl of Saxon (Howard Vernon), who is working feverishly to surgically revive his raped and murdered daughter via blood transfusions. Cue graphic surgical stock footage of bloody open heart surgery which goes on and on, inserted every time the live action subsides. In the meantime the Baron Braque (Lemoine) has raped one of the party goers, who has fled to the Earl's castle. The Baron is finally revealed to also be the rapist of the Earl's daughter, and shows up for punishment after having been badly mauled by a huge, ferocious bear, a pet of the Earl , who released the creature into the woods to seek out the guilty party. Every gets exactly what they deserve as a black clad figure in a death mask rides a white horse out of the front gate of the castle and disappears into the night. An attempt at a stylish Gothic tale, it all sounds a lot more interesting on the page than onscreen, mainly due to Hoven's meager talents in film direction. He stages everything in the same bland fashion, it lacks the kind of style which would make it compelling and is at best incoherent Eurotrash. There are also flashbacks to a medieval tale which also includes the cast of characters in a rape and murder scenario involving the Earl's ancestor (also played by Vernon). This is all shot using heavily filtered lenses. A few angles shot through the rococo furniture or tilted views of stone demons aside, this is a rather boring looking film, although shot by the same DP as Jess Franco's ultra stylish NECROMICON, once again the director makes all the difference. Even the period costumes look like Halloween get ups straight out of a bargain basement wardrobe room. The flashes of nudity don't add any erotic flavor to the tasteless proceedings and one can only imagine what is cut from the extant abbreviated prints. Vernon and Lemoine really try to put some emphasis into their roles as the twisted nobles. Nonetheless, it's all still somewhat amusing in a Le Bad Cinema category and appropriate beverages/substances may improve the viewing experience.

Adrian Hoven, of course went on to produce the very lurid, internationally successful MARK OF THE DEVIL films, HEXEN BIS AUFS BLUT GEQUALT and  GESCHANDET UND ZU TODE GEQUALT, in the early 1970s.

The upcoming Blu ray + DVD presentation of the complete version may or may not improve my opinion, but it's always good to see Vernon, Lemoine and Janine Reynaud all in the same film, even one as bad as this.

*Peter Blumenstock notes on P.60, "According to Howard Vernon... [IM SCHLOSS...] was based on an original script or idea by Jesus Franco."  OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO, 1993.

** Thanks to Eric Cotenas and Christoph Draxta for additional information.

(C) 2014 Robert Monell

23 November, 2014

CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (1968) VHS

This 1968 W. German production was directed by Adrian Hoven, and co-produced by his Aquila Films company with his then partner, Pier A Caminecci, who also appears in the film. Aquila Films also produced a series of Jess Franco films in 1967, NECRONOMICON aka SUCCUBUS, KISS ME, MONSTER and EL CASO DE LAS DOS BELLEZAS aka TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS/SADISTEROTICA. All 4 films share the same main cast and crew members, although IM SCHLOSS DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE appears to have been shot exclusively in West Germany. Jess Franco had no input in the direction but, according to OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO, the film was based on an original script by him [P.60], although he receives no writing credit in the English language version, CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH.

18 November, 2014

REPOST: Jess Franco's "Maciste" duo...

I would like to see both of Jess Franco's crazy 1973 no-budget MACISTE films, made back-to-back that year with the same main casts and locations, get HD releases. Has there been any other DVD releases since the 2013 Italian one of MACISTE VS. THE QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS? Blu-ray editions would be preferred or any High Quality DVD releases. The caps I've seen of this one look dodgy, as if mastered from an inferior, but watchable, VHS source.

Spaghetti Western icon Robert Woods played the evil knight Caronte in  LES EXPLOITS EROTIQUES DE MACISTE DANS L'ATLANTIDE aka Les Gloutonnes (1973) and Maciste's sidekick in MACISTE CONTRE LA REINE DES AMAZONES [seen in the caps below].


I find both of these fun, lightweight efforts with the amusing presences of Wal Davis [rn Waldemar Wohlfaart], Lina Romay, Alice Arno, and the always welcome participation of  Robert Woods, along with the entrancing Montserrat Prous, who also participates in Les Exploits Erotiques de Maciste dans L'Atlantide, a delirious composite and my favorite of the two. That one also has the equally essential presence of Pamela Stanford aka Monique Delaunay. Howard Vernon appears in other inserted scenes as "Cagliostro". Both were shot on locations in Portugal and Spain according to OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO.

Maciste contre la Reine des Amazones - trailer - YouTube

www.youtube.com/watch?v...
YouTube
Sep 27, 2011 - Uploaded by Franconery01
Maciste contre la Reine des Amazones - trailer ... du chef d'oeuvre de Clifford Brown, alias Jess Frank, alias ...

512Ur3HPjFL._SL500_.jpg
Here are a few caps posted last year in THE FRANCO LOUNGE on THE LATARNIA FORUMS...
imageimage

08 November, 2014

New Severin Release: The Cannibal Collection



  • Directors: Joe D'Amato, Allan W. Steeve, Jess Franco
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Studio: Severin Films
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 267 minute
This will include Jess Franco's 1980 DEVIL HUNTER aka EL CANIBAL, SEXO CANIBAL, THE MAN HUNTER, which was previously released on DVD by Severin. That release had some issues but is the longest version of the film to appear on digital so far and offers the rarely heard French soundtrack with English subtitles as well as the English language release track.

06 November, 2014

Jess Franco & Jazz

The second edition of this book, on the relationship between Jazz and Cinema, has  just been published. It includes an entry on the influence of Jazz on the films of Jess Franco, to whom the book is also dedicated.
Here's hoping for an English language edition.

It was written by the noted Spanish film historian Carlos Aguilar, who has published two books on the films of Jess Franco and worked as a production assistant on several of the director's films (BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE) in the mid 1980s.

25 October, 2014

UN PITO PARA TRES (Jess Franco 1984)

REVIEW BY FRANCESCO CESARI

UN PITO PARA TRES [aka A PENIS/WILLY FOR THREE, in English]
Directed by Jess Franco [as Candy Coster]
Photography by Juan Soler
Music by Fernando Garcia Morcillo
Produced by Fervi Films/Madrid
77minutes
Eastmancolor, Techniscope
Cast: Lina Romay [as Lulu Laverne] (Lulu Laverne / Principe Ahmet = Juanita García), Daniel Katz [as Pito Lungo] (Ramiro), Mari Carmen Nieto [as Marina Lamete] (Marina), Carmen Carrion [as Fanny Clito] (Adela), Antonio Mayans [as Tomé Proculi] (Pedrito Carpini), Joan Parrus (Paula)


 “To this story full of morals and messages, we have given the title… UN PITO PARA TRES. Something rude in Eastmancolor and Techniscope, so that one may see it really big."
 
Between 1984 and 1986 Jess Franco directed a group of hardcore films, mainly with the aim of making easy money with few days of shooting, with ensured profit on the hardcore circuits. Un Pito Para Tres was the first of the series and, since it was never released on VHS or DVD, an almost unknown title. Franco always detested the hardcore genre, not for its immorality but for cinematographic reasons, and also this time he succeeds all too well in passing on to us his boredom while shooting close-ups of the copulation and fellatio performed by Lina Romay and a pair of doubles. Nevertheless, in its whole the film is a pleasant surprise: an entertaining, amusing and unpretentious comedy of the erotic absurdity which Lina Romay, alias Lulu Laverne, introduces lied on her bed; just as she did about 10 years earlier in Midnight Party (1975), but this time while having sex with a female friend. Lina/Lulu assures us that the story which we are going to view will take place in real beds (In El Sexo Esta Loco-1980- the opening credits mentioned the “real copulations”) and talks about the film as a kind of sociological essay, as a cross section of the change in both sexual and power relations between men and women.


In Un pito para tres, the reversal of gender roles is systematic and programmatic. The “pito” (penis) of the title, played by Daniel Katz (alias Pito Lungo), is the victim of the sexual enthusiasm of his three partners, all of them assuming the cowgirl position. At the beginning of the story, he tries to play the role of the seducer, but very soon he finds himself in trouble, being unable to follow the rhythm of his women. The mistress and the wife get to the point of allying themselves to correct his sexual performance – something that throughout the whole film seems to be pretty difficult – and they don’t leave him in peace until they haven’t reach their aim. We could define Un pito para tres a men-in-sexual-peril film.

The gender perspective travels at a vector from top to bottom, in a totally crazy key. The most original character is Ahmet, the prince of Bagdad, played once again by Lina Romay. Four elements should witness his masculinity: a tenor voice, his tough ways, a male tunic and the head gear that hides the hair. But when the prince takes off the tunic and appears naked, the anatomic details are revealed as definitely female. In short, everybody can easily see that the prince is actually a woman. Everybody, except for his lovers – gay men and straight girls – who realize that they have been cheated only when Juanita García (this is her real name) reveals her female mane.

 The Italian stylist Pedrito Cardini (obviously, a reference to Italian-French stylist Pierre Cardin) finds solace, and pleasure, in the gorgeous Arabian prince’s arms; at least until a piercing scream of despair tells us that he has discovered the dreadful truth. Franco assigns the role of the stylist to Antonio Mayans, the most important actor in his 1980’s films (here under the pseudonym of Tomé Proculi, a pun with the expression “tomar pro culo” which can be translated with “to take it up the ass”), who had already worn gay cloak in Una rajita para dos (1982). Mayans recently completed, both as director and actor, the unfinished last Jess Franco film, Revenge of the Alligator Ladies, and has recalled the repeated joke of his director-friend by playing a romantic scene of gay seduction.

According to the opening credits, the film was directed by Candy Coster, one of Lina Romay’s aka names. But every frame shows the hand of Jess Franco and one of the leit-motifs and trade-marks of his filmography, the image of one or more boats in the middle of the expanse of the sea, appears twice. This image frequently recurs in such films as VAMPYROS LESBOS, LA COMTESSE NOIRE, WOMEN BEHIND BARS, GEMIDOS DE PLACER, and many other Jess Franco films as a kind of signature or code..


*OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO -1993, quotes Franco as claiming Emilio Linder is in the cast of this film. He does not appear in the version screened for this review. 

[Thanks to Nzoog for help with the translation of this article. RM] (C) Francesco Cesari 2014

23 October, 2014

Emmanuelles Tochter (1984) - Blutjunge Biester... zu allem bereit: Directed by Percy Parker aka Adrian Hoven


This is not a "Jess Franco" film, nor is it a Joe D'Amato production, as is stated on Youtube. It was directed by "Percy Parker", one of the beards of German producer Adrian Hoven, who produced several Jess Franco films, most notably NECRONOMICON aka Succubus (1967).
(C) Robert Monell 2014

12 October, 2014

LABIOS ROJOS (Jess Franco, 1960) Reviewed by Francesco Cesari





[Many thanks to Francesco Cesari for submitting this review of one of Jess Franco's most rarely seen films RM]

REVIEW by Francesco Cesari:
Each Franco fan knows that Red Lips are a pair of sexy and smart female spies, but almost nobody has viewed the first film of the Saga (the second Jess Franco feature film) since it was never released for the home video market. Shot in 1960, Labios rojos is also Franco’s first hommage to classic American cinema. The comedy side isn’t so much developed as will be in the following Red Lips movies, starting with Bésame, monstruo and El caso de las dos bellezas (English titles: Kiss me Monster and Two Undercover Angels, buy pay attention: they are just clumsy reeditings and rewritings of the original Spanish versions), the couple of 1967 films with Rosanna Yanni and Jeanine Reynaud playing the lead roles. Basically, Labios rojos is a stylish b&w noir with additional elements of comedy. All the film highlights belong to the noir genre, such as the curt and powerful scene in which Carlo Moroni, the right-arm man of Kallman – the boss and the gangster – is killed in an ambush, in a lonely place close to a grove, while the headlights of the cars break the darkness of the night.

Moroni, Kallman, Radeck… all names recurring during the whole Jess Franco’s filmography, always as noir characters, and here used for the first time. Antonio Jiménez Escribano, a friend of the director’s, better known as the Dr. Zimmer in Miss Muerte/The Diabolical dr. Z., plays one of the best Kallman and, in general, one of the best gangsters in Franco’s cinema.

Even though it’s a very well made work, with an undoubted artistic value, Labios rojos isn’t as successful as neither the following Franco’s b&w film noirs La muerte silba un blues and Rififí en la ciudad, nor the already mentioned Red Lips films with Yanni and Reynaud. First of all, the script is overlong and overstuffed with gags and details for a director who was always, in his essence, a silent cinema filmmaker. Secondly – and it isn’t of little account – the actresses playing the couple of female spies simply don’t work. The main problem is Isana Medel, who plays the more cunning and cold of the pair girls (Jeanine Reynaud in the 1967 films), but looks just like the good and naive girl she played the previous year in Tenemos 18 años, Franco’s first feature film. No doubt that her casting was a mistake of the director, who at the time was engaged to her. On the contrary, Ana Castor, who plays the foolish of the pair (Rosanna Yanni in the 1967 films), looks terrific, as both actress and sexy doll, but her countenance of a strong woman (years later, Franco wanted her for the role of Irma Zimmer in The Diabolical dr. Z., eventually played by Mabel Karr) makes her character appearing what it shouldn’t: a clever and sometimes even evil femme-fatale.  

Anyway, thinking about the lack of money which Franco had to deal with during the second part of the shooting,  Labios rojos is almost a miracle. One of the main authors of this miracle, besides the director and some other actors (for example, Manolo Morán, playing Commissary Fernández), is Juan Mariné, the director of photography, at least until he left the set because he hadn’t been paid and had a call for another work… Talking with Robert Monell, Franco said that Mariné was the best among the directors of photography whom he worked with. One can understand why, especially looking at a masterpiece as La muerte silba un blues. But also Labios rojos, as well as the former Franco/Mariné documentary short film El destierro del Cid, looks a fascinating gallery of perfect pictures and shots which largely compensates the narrative defects.

(C) Franceso Cesari, 2014

07 October, 2014

BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE (1985)

Bangkok, Cita con la Muerte
Written and Directed by Clifford Brown (Jess Franco)
Produced by Emilio Larraga Golden Films Internacional S.A. Barcelona
1985 87 MINUTES Spanish TV broadcast DIRECTED BY "Cliffor Brawm" (JESUS FRANCO) Cast: LINA ROMAY, ANTONIO MAYANS, JOSE LLAMAS, HELENA GARRET, BORK GORDON (Christian Bork), EDUARDO FAJARDO. DP: Juan Soler;
87m Fujicolor, Widescreen.
{No known  DVD release}
{No known English language VHS or DVD available.}

A good natured experiment, BANGKOK CITY OF THE DEAD mixes comic book-style imagery with a crime thriller plot. Franco has tried this before, notably in the delightful LOS BLUES CALLE POP (1983). Unlike that project, BANGKOK lacks that film's poised, very Franco-esque humor. The overly formulaic plot combines drug running, Thai pirates (led by Lina Romay?), karate fighting, kidnapping, and parody on a C minus budget, enlivened by glittering, cubist style compositions executed on colorful Canary Island locations. This isn't Hollywood, it's not even Hong Kong. It's 100 per cent pure Jess Franco




While on a yachting interlude the beautiful young daughter (Helena Garrett) of a millionaire is kidnapped by pirates. Her father (Eduardo Fajardo) hires a bumbling private eye named Panama Joe (Bork Gordon) to locate her. The daughter's boyfriend is also on the kidnappers' trail. Panama Joe discovers the crooks are led by  drug smuggler Malko (Antonio Mayans), who is in turn being double crossed by Queen Amania (Lina Romay). The detective tries to play both sides against the other, while uncovering deeper layers of corruption and double dealing.
Lina Romay as Amania, the pirate...

BANGKOK is dialogue and plot heavy to no good end, and Gordon's imitation Inspector Columbo ramblings just do not spark the same kind of mystique. But at least he attempts to lighten up the proceedings. He has his moments but not enough of them. The villains pretty much do the heavy lifting here. The characters are shown talking in cartoon dialog balloons during the opening credits, but Franco unaccountably drops this unusual device immediately and never picks it up again. What's left is a C-minus adventure with some ill-timed comic relief and ineptly staged karate stand-offs, in which the participants miss each other by miles. No contact of any kind to be found here.

Favorite scene: Helena Garret getting "tortured" by being forced to sit under one of those old fashioned helmut style hair dryers.

Lina Romay has a few touching moments as the pirate leader, and she looks the part in her headband and leather jacket.. In one rather silly scene, shes dances around in a tight, skimpy leopard skin outfit accompanied by a mechanical band. The result might been cute in 1973, but at this late date it is not at all erotic and unflattering to the talented Ms. Romay. But one wonders if it was meant to be sexy at all. Is it just another Jess Franco in-joke?  It's amusing, for sure, with the absurb music and shots of the animated band instrument, but its the kind of amusement which maybe only Jess Franco enthusiasts might appreciate. Veteran character actor Fajardo at first glance turns in a rather disappointing performance as the millionaire. Looked at more closely it's another of the prolific veteran's expert, reserved depictions of ice cold ruthlessness. These kind of villainous roles had become Fajardo's trademark since his signature villain in DJANGO (1966).

The movie benefits from the aforementioned photography of the exotic Carany Islands locations, buttressed by the stock footage of Thailand and Macao. Familiar Jess Franco sites on the Costa Del Sol stand in for some of the Oriental settings. Pieces of Daniel White's brassy score can also be heard in Franco's earlier FU MANCHU AND THE KISS OF DEATH/KISS AND KILL (1967). OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO also credits some of the Oriental music to Moira Litell.

Noted Spanish film historian Carlos Aguilar was an assistant director and appears in a small role.

(C) 2014 Robert Monell