21 July, 2006


ROBERT MONELL: One of three films featuring Anne Libert (left), filmed in Portugal on the same locations in late 71, early 72: THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN - Jess Franco, 1972, Espagne/Italie

Grade Z French-Spanish coproduction in the style of Franco's beloved Italian sex and violence Fumetti.

"I foresee pleasure, death and blood," predicts Melissa (Anne Libert), the cannibal-birdwoman created by Cagliostro (Howard Vernon, in one of his most essential roles), the evil magician/scientist who is creating a race called "Phantos" with which he plans to dominate the world. Wall to wall nudity, gore, perversion, torture, flesh stripping and wildness scored by, according to onscreen credit "sound by Musique pour l'Image" - H. Tical Vincent Gemini Robert Hermel Vladimir Cosma-a bizarre composite of crashing organ chords and electronic whoops.

Franco's transgressive reimaginaing of the Universal classic, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, actually was adverterised by one French video company with a still from that 1935 James Whale film! But Franco's film is even more over the top in terms of "Pleasure, Death and Blood", in a way it comments on the late 1960s-early 1970s era of burgeoning sex and violence in the cinema. Franco's film is certainly NOT mainstream but an outre blend of grotesque Fantastique and sexual hijinx. The silver skinned monster (Fred Harrisson/Fernando Bilbao) has to be seen to be believed, you can notice that the cheap make up FX are peeling on close inspection! Lots of close ups of skulls and blinding crimson lights shining directly into the camera give the proceedings a Kenneth Anger feeling.

A favorite scene has the head and hands of the reanimated Dr Frankenstein (Dennis Price) cleanly severed by a vat of sulphuric acid suddenly thrown on him. Such surreal imagery, though, can't really be described in words, it has to be SEEN. The Spanish version is considerably longer and contains a scene with Lina Romay not seen in the French alternate, but the French version has all the nudity which is "covered" in the Spanish. Britt Nichols, as "the bride", is sexy and charming even when is getting her head ripped off by the savage looking Luis Barboo.

The vintage poster above, pictures Anne Libert as the victim-sex slave of Britt Nichols, also in EROTIC RITES... and DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN, where she also plays a female vampire. All three of these films were French-Spanish-Portuguese coproductions with the prolific exploitation producer Robert de Nesle providing the French financing from his Paris based company, C.F.F.P.

LA FILLE... has giallo elements, a lot of lesbian groping, a prominent role for frequent Franco composer Daniel J. White and gives the immortal Howard Vernon another shot at playing Dracula after his eccentric interpretation in DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN. Franco himself has a key role as a Van Helsing style vampire hunter. Britt's tortured, sensual portrayal of the predatory Luisa is perhaps the best role she had in her Franco resume. The opening scenes where a woman is stalked and killed in a coastal region seems to have been strongly influenced by such Mario Bava gialli as BLOOD AND BLACK LACE and HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON.


E.C. said...

"LA FILLE... has giallo elements"

The giallo elements were in place more prominently in the film from which LA FILLE seems to be a semi-remake: Franco's SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS. A comparison of the two films reveals SEVERAL similarities.

Robert Monell said...

I agree. VON KLAUS has that stalking sequence where the killer dressed in black coat and hat follows the woman. It looks like the template for BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, which was made the next year. FILLE is a vampire film with those elements recycled as Franco often does, making a new genre mix out of various materials. Thanks for your comments and Welcome.