18 December, 2006

Best DVD's of 2006: Part 1

My favorite DVD's of 2006: Jess Franco DVDs; Franco-related DVD presentations; non-Franco DVD's (to illustrate that I do have other interests in life). As Criterion's THE COMPLETE MR. ARKADIN [you can't get more Franco-related than Orson Welles] is my favorite DVD presentation of the year, the following are not in order of preference.

MACUMBA SEXUAL (Severin Films): The best Franco DVD of the year, along with Severin's simultaneous release of MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD. Severin Films is my favorite new DVD company. Focusing on erotic cinema, David Gregory and his associates go the distance to search out the very best available elements for obscure cult classics from the past. Then they give them state-of-the-art transfers with an emphasis on perserving the films correct OAR, look, feel and texture. They wrap it all up with pertinent supplements, including excellent documentary interviews with the filmmakers, a David Gregory speciality. The interviews with Franco and Lina Romay on these discs are brimming with fascinating insights into their characters and the making of the films and are garnished with some surprising revelations. Intelligently and helpfully Illustrated with well-chosen graphic material, these interviews are a welcome change in style from the usual talking-head syndrome of most DVD documentaries.

MACUMA and MANSION are both from Franco's underestimated and very rich Golden Films Internacional period of the 1980s, wherein he reimagined many of his stories, characters and themes from earlier periods in a completely different style, structure and context. The emphasis is on near hardcore eroticism (in MACUMBA) and sexual violence (in MANSION), but they're more than X rated zombie films (cf Joe D'Amato's EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD) shot on colorful Canary Island locations or mere retreads of VAMPYROS LESBOS or Amando de Ossorio's BLIND DEAD series. They're %100 pure Jess Franco hybrids and seen in near perfect 2.35:1 transfers from gorgeous elements w/English subtitles (although these atmospheric, near silent, movies hardly need dialgoue) we can finally understand Franco's continuing commercial and artistic evolution.

Severin has also released deluxe editions of such 1970s erotica as FELICITY, the outrageous animated erotic fairy tale compliation ONCE UPON A GIRL and promises future transgressive items from Walerian Borowczyk, Joe D'Amato, Andrea Bianchi along with more titles from Franco Golden Films era, including the essential GEMIDOS DE PLACER, one of JF's most stylistically daring experiments.

(c)Robert Monell: 2006.

[More Best DVD's of 2006 to follow]

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