30 July, 2006

THE GREEN EYES OF SATAN



COMMENTARY BY ROBERT MONELL: SUCCUBUS was shot under the title LES YEUX VERTS DE SATAN, as noted in Alain Petit's essential "Manacoa Files" and recalled by Jess Franco himself in David Gregory's excellent 22m interview segment "From NECRONOMICON to SUCCUBUS" on the new BU DVD. The German version NECRONOMICON is also known as GETRAUMTE SUNDEN (Dreamed Sins) and there's an Italian version, DELIRIUM. I must say that THE GREEN EYES OF SATAN is a bewitching handle but NECRONOMICON perhaps best sums up the conceptual genesis from a 15th Century text by an Arabic Jew (Alazred) who, according to the director, was burned by the Inquisition for his efforts. Franco took a few pages of it and improvised the film around it, there was never a complete script according to actor Jack Taylor (the 7m segment with him on the BU disc, Ewe Huber's BACK TO BERLIN, taking us back to some of the film's locations, along with the JF interview, are alone worth the price of admission). Taylor, who plays "Bill" in the film, explains how just a few pages written daily by Franco were given to Taylor who then translated them on the spot.

My first awareness of the film and of the name Jess Franco came in early 1969 when I happened across a still from the opening S&M performance in the FILM section of some long forgotten continential cinema review in one of those men's magazines one just reads "for the articles." I was immediately struck by the name, JESUS FRANCO, compositing the founder of Christianity with the name of Spain's feared dictator at the time. Blasphemy and outrage! The Catholic church would later place the film on its CONDEMNED list and it was totally banned in Franco's country of birth.

A few months later I had just turned 18 and was able to view it in a local "Art" cinema, The Riviera, where X-rated films like THE DAMNED and CAMILLE 2000 would play.

SUCCUBUS, "THE sensual experience of '69" as the poster in the lobby stated, was rated X, "...adults only, naturally." On some of the admats, next to the image of the sultry Janine Reynaud, was the kicker: "Because of the unusual nature of the the title, we suggest you call #_________ for the full meaning so that you will not be surprised by the sophisticated subject matter of this film." I wondered, did anyone ever get connected? I tried a few times but it was always busy! Those were the days.... (to be continued)

16 comments:

Mirek said...
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Mirek said...

One wonders if Franco, a fan of Sax Rohmer, was familiar with Rohmer's 1920 work, THE GREEN EYES OF BAST. I've never read BAST, but from the little I know of the book, it doesn't have any obvious connections with the once-titled Franco film, THE GREEN EYES OF SATAN.

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for that bit of arcane info, Mirek. Franco was a voracious reader of Rohmer, Wallace, Ian Fleming, et al and he often named characters after figures in their novels and films from those books. For instance, there's lots of EW references in FACELESS. So, it may indeed be a play on the S Rohmer title. And, of course, based on the success of SUCCUBUS he would be invited to do actual Rohmer film adapts: THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU and THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU.

Clifford Brown said...

The "Green Eyes" reference might in fact be due to Michel Lemoine's presence in the movie.

The french title for Romano Ferrara's 1962 flick PLANETS AGAINST US is "Le Monstre aux Yeux Verts", and can be translated to "The Green Eyes Monster".

And Lemoine wasn't a very nervous or jealous guy; some of the movies he would go on to direct (LES CHIENNES, LES DÉSAXÉES) partially dealt with "free love" and the emancipation of the couple into an "open" relationship where one could sleep with whoever he / she felt like it.

Robert Monell said...

Very good, and welcome. I'm a huge fan of the films of ML, both as actor and director. Especially as the alien in PLANETS AGAINST US and his film SEVEN WOMEN FOR SATAN. I also have his 1980's sex farce DESIRE UNDER THE SUN with Gabriel Pontello and Olivier Mathot, a cleverly shot sex farce about the subject you mention.

Clifford Brown said...

It is pretty much his favorite theme. I have recently participated in a Michel Lemoine dossier that should normally appear in the next issue of Trash Times.

Greetings Robert, and let me say it's nice to see you start this blog. We have known each others in the past as I was posting on the Franco Lounge under the alias "Orloff Manera". Check out my "I am Jess Franco's Son" blog - it's no competition, as I write about my "relationship" with Franco and his movies rather than about the movies itself.

Robert Monell said...

Hello "Orloff Manera", yes I think I remember you from another site also. Are you north of the border? Please feel free to comment on anything here and add any corrections. I'm especially trying to find rare Franco images.

Robert Monell said...

In addition, if you want to send me any texts on Franco/Lemoine at my above email I will include them here with your full credit, of course. We're looking for intelligent contributions and I know you are a Franco veteran.

Clifford Brown said...

Yes, Robert, I'm based in Montreal. I might still have a few things to say about Franco in the near future, as I am entering yet another phase where I suppose I will watch many of his flicks.

Are you still updating the Jess Franco Casebook from time to time ? There are lots of movies on there that haven't been talked about and for which I have reviews, mainly the Robert de Neslé ones... I could translate them for you.

Robert Monell said...

No, I'm not updating the Casebook but we'd like to have any translated reviews right here. So please contact me by email if you have them. Also, do you have an image of ML you could emial me. If you could copy it right in the email rather than attach it that would be easier as my computer is having problems downloading attachments. Thanks.

Uwe Huber said...

Hi Bob, glad you liked the Jack Taylor piece. I don't have the DVD yet, so I'm not sure if they misspelled my name!?
And here some more details that might of interest for you: Jess' first contact with Hoven's/Caminneci's Aquila productions was made by Karl Heinz Mannchen in Spring 1966. Karl Heinz, a German who was working at Hesperia Films in Spain at that time contacted Aquila in hope for a German co-producer for RESIDENCIA PARA ESPIAS, but that didn't work out. However NECRONOMICON was born from that contact. It was shot in Fall 1966 in Lisbon and Berlin. To my knowledge Jess was even present when the German dubbing was recorded in Berlin. In June 1967 Pier A. Caminneci and Janine Reynaud presented the film at the Berlin Filmfest. It's being said, that Caminneci (he was the guy with the money!) took the film from Jess at the last minute and prepared the "final cut". I have no idea, if he made some changes. What we know is that the German censor (the FSK) did cut some footage before general release in Germany in 1968. A German reference book indicates a running time of 84 minutes before cuts, so it might have been about 2 minutes that were cut. The bad thing is, that the cut footage - to my knowledge - never ever showed up since. All versions I know are based on the cut German from 1968.
Keep up your great work, guys!

Robert Monell said...

Yes, the BACK TO BERLIN documentary was excellent work. Thanks for the valuable addtional info on the production and release. So it seems there was a longer German version which was cut for censorship reasons. So then 82 m would be the correct runtime. I have a version that last 80 10s with long end music as I wrote. I don't understand exactly what happenend to this ending. I had thought it was shot in /67 so it's valuable info to know it was actually shot the previous year. Thanks again and stop by soon...

Uwe Huber said...

Robert, you should check out the German DVD (you can get it very cheap on eBay). It does feature the 2 minutes of end music (it was always present in the German version). Running time of that DVD is 78:23 (PAL), which translates to 81:39 (24fps). It represents exactly the version shown 1968 in German cinemas, just missing the distributors logo.

Robert Monell said...

Yes, I'm waiting for someone to send me a copy from Europe. If the BU had that end music it would work out to about that length, making it the complete US version at least and as long as the German. I also wish they had included the German track as an option. Thanks for that info, that means that Franco who apparently approved the German version had the end music in his final cut. I'm sorry it's missing on the BU DVD.

Flynn said...

Wonderful blog you have here, guys. I'm a big Franco fan and, as you note in one of the above comments, the man is a voracious reader. Undoubtably, he read H.P. Lovecraft, where he picked up the name Necronomicon. It is not a real occult tome but was invented by Lovecraft sometime in the late 1920s. Just thought I'd point that out. Keep up the good work!

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