20 March, 2015


One of Jess Franco's most stylish early thrillers, this 1962 French-Spanish production is teeming with Gothic atmosphere and features one of his most shocking scenes of Sadisterotica, long before Horror Y Sexo became a Eurohorror staple. An evil swamp demon, the shadow of the dreaded Baron Von Klaus, emerges from his lair to stalk and murder beautiful women in a remote Austrian town. But everything is not as it seems as the terror and questions increase.

I'm very pleased that Kino Lorber is presenting this beautifully crafted horror epic in HD. June 2015 is the projected release date...

17 March, 2015



I have added an additional blog site in association with Alex Mendibil's Spanish EL FRANCONOMICON.
This blog will continue to be updated with images, videos, reviews, links. The new blog will feature
different material, including articles and new features.

Thanks to our readers for your continued support and interest here and at the new blog.

Remember, this blog isn't going anywhere and please check here regularly for features.
Hope you all enjoy the additional new blog, which will be in English.

Recent blog posts on the new blog include: JESS FRANCO'S XXX FILES-PHOLLASTIA

El Franconomicon - WordPress.com


12 March, 2015

Support Amy Brown's Soledad Miranda project!

Amy Brown is probably the world's leading expert on all things regarding the late, great Spanish actress and Jess Franco muse, Soledad Miranda. Amy is planning to visit Spain as part of her research on a welcome biography of the iconic actress. Please support her journey if you can. I'll let Amy explain in her own words,

"I wanted to let you know about my fundraiser for my Soledad Miranda book. It's my dream project, and the most important thing I will ever do in my life. It's truly my life calling to be her biographer and bring her amazing life and career recognition in print (and on the web, as I have been doing for nearly 15 years). The fundraiser is to help fund a research trip to Spain, where I will interview her family and people who knew and worked with her. Details can be found at the link below. Every dollar helps, and I can't emphasize how important this is to me and her fans all over the world. Thank you for your support. Please share if you can.
Best wishes,


20 February, 2015

Coming on April 14, 2015

Thanks to Nzoog.

These are highly anticipated and most welcome releases of two key Jess Franco film, finally uncut and in HD!

15 February, 2015

Lina Romay 1954-2012

(Posted on behalf of Robert Monell)

Lina Romay passed beyond the mist 3 years ago today. RIP.

12 February, 2015

Upcoming REDEMPTION Blu-ray releases

Here is what I was told by my source at REDEMPTION FILMS on plans for upcoming Blu-ray releases of  Jess Franco's THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (1962) and THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972), two of his best films which will make very welcome HD editions.Going into this, I was mainly interested in Blu-ray news on THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN--French title: Les Experiences Erotiques de Frankenstein (1972) but was pleasantly surprised to learn that work is just finishing up for a coming Blu-ray release of the atmospheric 1962 black and white thriller, La Sadique Baron Von Klaus.

Question: Do you have any information on an upcoming Blu-ray release of Jess Franco's THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN, or any other of his films, from Redemption?
Answer: Yes, after many delays, Redemption is releasing EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN... probably this Summer. We've received the raw HD master and it is being color-corrected now. It is the uncensored French cut (with an alternate English dub track). It does NOT contain the "clothed" footage, nor does it contain the inserts Franco later shot (with Lina Romay). And before FRANKENSTEIN, we're releasing SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (just finishing that one up now).
Before you ask -- It does not include the pre-credit sequence of the man in a white mask. We typically only get the French versions of his films, and not the modified Spanish cuts.
Question: Yes, the French version, that is the director's cut. I interviewed Jess in 2005 and he said that is his authorized version. He disliked the Spanish cut. These will be Bluray and DVD right?
Answer: Correct. No promo material yet. I would say "Summer 2015" for FRANKENSTEIN. BARON VON KLAUS is tentatively schedule for early June. 

[It should be stressed that these are projected release windows and street dates are always tentative and often delayed. But both are in hand by Redemption and being worked on as you are reading this. Let's hope it happens as planned.] 

{C} Robert Monell, 2015 [First published 2/12/15]

11 February, 2015


1983 80 MINUTES* Galan Video (Spain) European Trash Cinema (U.S. import) Written and Directed by Jess Franco; Cast: ROBERT FOSTER (Antonio Mayans), ANALIA IVARS, JESS FRANCO (Sam Chesterfield), CANDY COSTER (Lina Romay), TRINO TRIVES, MARY SAD (Maria de la Mar Sanchez), JOSE LLAMAS (Macho Jim), Augustin Garcia, Juana de la Morena.

*90 minutes according to OBSESSION, THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO. The VHS dupe I've seen only emphasizes how this film screams for a HD remastering.

Felipe Marlboro, gamely incarnated by Franco mainstay Antonio Mayans ("Robert Foster"), is a seedy private investigator who takes up a missing person case in punk infested Shit City. Hired by Maria Lucky (Maria de la Mar Sanchez) to locate the punk informer Macho Jim (Jose Llamas), he runs into big trouble almost immediately. All the men seem to hang out in a loud, teeming, smoky bar decorated with posters of Bogart (from CASABLANCA) and Mae West, waiting for trouble to erupt.

The residents of this corrupt town all look like they base their fashion sense on 1980s MTV. The men look like either Sid Vicious or a member of A Flock of Seagulls, and the women sport the slutty attire and pouting sexuality of Robert Palmer's female back-up vocalists in the music video of "Addicted to Love." Likewise, the visual style of the film is a whacked-out array of bright, primary colors and weird camera angles.

The plot has Marlboro enlisting the aid of piano player Sam Chesterfield (played by Jess Franco himself) in an all out effort to find his man and bust the town's drug and dirty money kingpin, Saul Winston (Trino Trives). Obviously, Jess Franco is Hoagy Carmichael in CASABLANCA, and Marlboro is telling him to "Play it Again, Sam" by pumping him for information. The fact that the main characters are all named after American cigarette brands say a lot about Jess Franco's love of smoking and American culture.

Forget SIN CITY and PULP FICTION, this unfolds in Shit City and is the original Pulp Fiction, a Jess Franco wonderment which manages to precede all of Tarantino, Rodriguez and co. by decades.A witty, obsessively self reflexive, visually striking neo-noir, a live action comic book which is one of Franco's personal favorites, and it's easy to see why. Almost every shot in the film is a loving homage to 1940s private eye cinema (such as THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP) filtered through a 1980s MTV-style lens and striving for a comics stylization of image, performance and atmosphere.

Franco has stated that he attempted to create a sustained comic-book look, and he has totally succeeded in that while creating his most entertaining film since his amusing 1967 spy spoof LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE. Unfortunately, you may have a difficult time seeing it in the way it deserves to be presented.

Antonio Mayans is the perfect fall guy in Franco's off balance world of pimps, whores, killers, and thugs. Felipe Marlboro seems like a close cousin of the director's perennially challenged P.I., Al Pereira. In her first role in a Jess Franco film, Analia Ivars, who has great legs and 1980s big hair, makes for a perfect lean, mean femme fatale. Franco stages all the standard private eye cliches in his usual off-kilter fashion. For instance, when Marlboro gets a beating for asking too many questions, the thug (Augustin Garcia) who kicks the living daylights out of him is a flashy flamenco dancer who performs his dance steps in between each punch and kick. Most amusing of all is the twisted ending, which finds Marlboro seduced by the woman who has set him up for extinction.

Franco adorns this personal favorite with a fast-paced editing style, glimmering shots of the Benidorm locations (which have a tacky glamor), often  shooting through diffusion lenses, and a rousing New Orleans style jazz score by Fernando G. Morcillo. LA BLUES DE LA CALLE POP... is a continual delight to see and hear, and one can sense its maker's joy in creating a noir comic book on film.

Franco's experimental deployment of colored filters is especially interesting (as in the similar ESCLAVA DEL CRIMEN-1986) and makes me wonder why he didn't continue in this style. Instead, his next several films, such as DARK MISSION (1987), ESMERALDA BAY (1989) and DOWNTOWN HEAT (1990), were made using more conventional  cinematography, musical and narrative techniques. Not bad films, just not the kind of prime, personal Jess Franco which LOS BLUES CALLE POP exemplifies so beautifully. You haven't seen the real Jess Franco until you've experienced it.

**It should also be noted that the film is narrated, in a mastered tone somewhere between mock authoritative and old fashioned cynical, by Ricardo Palacios, who first appeared in Jess Franco's world as the pugnacious tourist in CARTAS SUR TABLE (ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS-1966). He also played the bandit chief in the 1968 Harry Alan Towers production THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, memorable noir villains in JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA (1984) and CAMINO SOLITARIO (1993), among other Franco titles. A memorable character actor in films by Franco, Margheriti (CAR CRASH), Rossellini (SOCRATES) who appeared as various characters in Euro-westerns (THE BOUNTY KILLER-1966). He was also the director of the1987 Spanish Civil War comedy, BIBI LA BANDA, produced by Jess Franco, and Mi Cojeno es el Mejor, a 1982 erotic comedy featuring Lina Romay. It was just reported that Palacios passed away today, February 11, in Spain. Thanks to Nzoog.  Ricardo Palacios (1940-2015)

Robert Monell

03 February, 2015

The Jess Franco XXX Collection

Welcome to the XXX world of Jess Franco, one of the many planets within his special massive parallel universe. Over the next few months, and beyond, we'll be taking some time to consider various aspects of his extensive hardcore portfolio, from the mid 1970s (SEXORCISMES) through the 1980s.

I'm hoping to see such elusive titles as FALO CREST (1987) and the ultra obscure Las Chuponas (1986), but already have seen several of his rarely screened mid 1980s hardcores such as EL OJETE DE LULU (1984), UNA RAJITA PARA DOS (1982) and Para las Nenas... Leche Calentita (1986), which I'll briefly comment on along with his best effort in this genre, EL MIRON Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA (1985), which was released as a Spanish "newstand" DVD as part of a magazine promotion. (*For Interviu, Thanks to Nzoog).

Most importantly, I plan to look at these as cinema works of Jess Franco, and how they place in his filmography in terms of themes, threads, images and personal humor...

[Above]: Rare screen cap of Jess Franco as the voyeur watching the hardcore performers in the scatological UNA RAJITA PARA DOS. Watching erotic performances is a continuing thread throughout his massive filmography, in these cases the performances are hardcore sex encounters, presented for the first time on Spanish screens (legally) in the early 1980s.

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

02 February, 2015

The Jess Franco Collection! - Full Moon Streaming fullmoonstreaming.com/Jess-Franco-Collection


The Jess Franco Collection! - Full Moon Streaming


First and foremost, I am pleased that these will be available to those who have not or cannot import the Ascot-Elite Golden Goya Jess Franco Blu-rays, but I also wished these were going to be BD releases instead of DVDs.

I note that JACK THE RIPPER will be available in February as the first release in this numbered set. DORIANA GRAY is #7 and some reports I've read are saying that both the hardcore and soft versions wilb be available. If it's going to be one release per month we may not see that until August. That, along with the highly stylized BLUE RITA [DAS FRAUENHAUS], are the two in which I am most interested. I don't have any of the Golden Goya Collection, although more guest reviews are planned here.

These appear to be HD clones of the Golden Goyas, perhaps down-converted by HD tape masters, but remastered by Ascot-Elite, from which Full Moon has obviously acquired the rights and elements. I would be surprised if Full Moon does any of their own remastering or English subtitling, although all deserve and need to have English subtitles available.

Will they be NTSC downconversions from Ascot Elite's HD master tapes? Will they be exact clones of the Blu-rays? These are more questions will doubtless be answered sooner than later.

 Thanks to Eric Cotenas.

30 January, 2015

10 Jess Franco films coming from FULL MOON

10 Jess Franco films, from the era when he was making films for producer Erwin C. Dietrich, will be released by Charles Band's FULL MOON company starting next month. Bonus material will be included. These were previously released by Ascot-Elite on Blu-ray.

At this point I wonder if DORIANA GRAY (1976), a stylish female vampire film starring Lina Romay, will be the hardcore version previously released by the Elite in German language but with a grating (for my ears)  English dubtrack produced when at the time of the first DVD. No English subtitles were available. I would be surprised to see FULL MOON release a hardcore film. Only one of the films listed below is noted to have English subtitles. 

 The FULL MOON collection will be on DVD. We'll have to see how this plays out but it seems like some good news for US fans who haven't been able to import the Ascot Blu rays. The films will also be available to stream on FULL MOON's site.
“I’m excited to be able to bring this awesome collection to the fans,” says Full Moon founder and equally storied genre film producer/director Charles Band.

“My WIZARD home video imprint was among the first in North America to distribute Franco’s films in the early 1980s and it makes perfect sense that Full Moon should be the ones to now release these beautiful new transfers of some of Jess’ most effective pictures to domestic DVD.”

Titles featured in Full Moon’s “The Jess Franco Collection” are as follows:






SLAVES (no English track, only English subtitles available)





Home to the entire Full Moon Features Library, www.fullmoonstreaming.com is one of the world’s first and finest interactive video experiences, and provides fans with unprecedented access to exclusive content: world premieres, resurrected film treasures, webisodes, behind-the-scenes footage,

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.

[ 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


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



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]


Film Information

Main Director JESUS FRANCO
Year 1984
Length 103 Minutes
Countries Spain
Genre Crime

Director Of Photography JUAN SOLER
Author Santiago Moncada

[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.

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

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]


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).


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).


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


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


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

Sep 27, 2011 - Uploaded by Franconery01
Maciste contre la Reine des Amazones - trailer ... du chef d'oeuvre de Clifford Brown, alias Jess Frank, alias ...

Here are a few caps posted last year in THE FRANCO LOUNGE on THE LATARNIA FORUMS...