15 March, 2009

FIRST JF VIDEO?


Have you saved the 1980's Wizard Video prerecord of DEMONAIC aka THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME?



I saw my first Jess Franco film, SUCCUBUS [NECRONOMICON], theatrically in 1969 (at a local, long gone, Adult theater) and then THE BLOODY JUDGE (1969) under the title NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST at a drive-in double bill in 1971. I drove out on the Franco film, disappointed and bored. After that I saw COUNT DRACULA (1970) and THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (1969) via TV broadcasts sometime during the 1970s and pretty much wrote JF off as a director I was interested in.




 
It was the video boom of the 1980s which got me back into his work, first renting out video cassettes from retail outlets. I think my first JF video was Wizard Video's DEMONIAC {THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME-1979}. I do remember being impressed with the stark visual quality and Franco's performance as the mad killer. I had no idea that it was a composite which included a lot of footage from EXOCISME (1974) and thought that the changes in the main character's appearance were due to bad make-up! How little I knew back then. I was also impressed by the artwork on over sized box in which it packaged.




 
It took me another half decade to catch the full version of SADIST and the original EXORCISME, along with its XXX variant. I still go back and forth on which version I like the best, while knowing the director prefers SADIST... as his personal statement on cultural alienation [from Spain] and his stand-offish relationship with the Catholic Church. I always find it interesting that the actor who plays the Notre Dame priest Franco's character visits, Antonio De Cabo, is not credited in any version I have seen. De Cabo is also in Franco's DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN (1971), DEVIL HUNTER (1980), CECILIA (1980) and plays the lawyer who reads the will in A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (1971).



 
I sometimes wish I still had that old Wizard Video in its over sized box with b&w stills on the back cover.
 
Do readers remember what their first JF home video experience was?


Windows Live™: Keep your life in sync. Check it out.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

My first was a VHS double feature of COUNT DRACULA and VENUS IN FURS. I think I was enticed by the NTA covers without realizing they were by the same director until I watched them.

Isn't De Cabo listed as art director on some films (DRACULA PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN, I think)?

franconomicon said...

Believe it or not, mine was the same! Spanish oversized VHS box of EL SADICO DE NOTREDAME. I thought it was dreadful at that time...

Robert Monell said...

My first was a VHS double feature of COUNT DRACULA and VENUS IN FURS.

Do you have that box? I'm compiling video info.
Yes, De Cabo was also art dir on EUGENIE 1980

it or not, mine was the same! Spanish oversized VHS box of EL SADICO DE NOTREDAME.

Was this the same as DEMONIAC, cut, or the longer version. Thanks.

Douglas A. Waltz said...

My first Franco exposure was the horrible cut version of A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD. Even with the crappy Rollin inserts I was fascinated by the lead actress. Then I got a grey market version that was infinitely better. But, VIRGIN was my first Franco experience. Everything after that is a blur.

ALex Bakshaev said...

My first VHS was a russian VHS bootleg of "Marie-Cookie..." and God was it an atrocious film! It still is for me, actually. Then came "Cannibals" which was alterating between rdiculous and dull and, finally "Jack The Ripper" had changed my opinion of JF for the better.

Robert Monell said...

VHS was a russian VHS bootleg of "Marie-Cookie..." and God was it an atrocious film

Thanks for your first JF video, Alex. Was it in Russian language? That would be interesting. I kind of life the giant spider web set design with bodies hanging, an offshoot of his spider woman motifs. But overall, yes, it's atrocious.

Robert Monell said...

horrible cut version of A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD

Thanks for sharing your first JF video, Doug. I think the Wizard VATLD was my second JF video after DEMONIAC. Then I started to order them from grey market dealers.

Anonymous said...

"My first was a VHS double feature of COUNT DRACULA and VENUS IN FURS.

Do you have that box? I'm compiling video info.
Yes, De Cabo was also art dir on EUGENIE 1980"

It was not a double feature cassette, I meant that I rented both of them at the same time not realizing that they were both Franco films until I watched them both.

I think I came across VIRGIN a little later in its Wizard cut (fooled by the stills on the back). Even in that form I like it (I transferred my tape to DVDR a while ago and noticed that the colors on it and the Japanese subtitled part of the Midnight Video composite are a bit richer color-wise to the Image restoration but perhaps that has to do with aging film elements or the contrast on the print used for the video releases versus the grading on the digital master used for the DVD).

Robert Monell said...

across VIRGIN a little later in its Wizard cut (fooled by the stills on the back). Even in that form I like it (I transferred my tape to DVDR a while ago and noticed that the colors on it and the Japanese subtitled part of the

Sometimes these Wizard video boxes of Franco films had the wrong information on the back/wrong stills [from other Wizard video presentations]. I think VATLD may be one of those which had the wrong stills. Yes, the MV colors ar noticeably richer. I'm still not quite pleased with the IMAGE presentation.

Anonymous said...

The stills on the back of the Wizard VIRGIN tape were from ZOMBIE LAKE and OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES. The Force tapes for EXECUTIONER OF VENICE and EROTIKILL had VIRGIN stills on the back covers.

re: Image's disc

The French track is the way to go on that one. Since the English track is sourced from the Rollin zombie version, you are aware of the jumps in the audio from where this cut differs from the zombie version. Watching it with the English track on the Image disc for the first time, the jumps in the track made me think there were also jumps in the picture (like the early scene where the scene of Christina's having a nightmare in the bedroom at the inn does not dissolve to a zombie dream but that is actually the uncut scene without anything inserted into it).

Robert Monell said...

The stills on the back of the Wizard VIRGIN tape were from ZOMBIE LAKE and OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES. The Force tapes for EXECUTIONER OF VENICE and EROTIKILL had VIRGIN stills on the back covers.

re: Image's disc

The French track is the way to go on that one

Yeah, now I remember those stills on the back of the Wizard box. I remember thinking it was cut of those scenes before I knew what was what.

About 10 years ago I actually gave away my last oversized Wizard boxes thinking what good would they be in the DVD age. How I now regret doing that! Vintage prerecords are now highly sought-after by some collectors.

AHK said...

My first VHS-exposure to JF was in 1997 via the Redemption edition of "Tender and Perverse Emanuelle". Loved the title and loved the film. Saw their edition of "Exorcism" soon afterwards, and also VATLD with the Rollin-inserts. Female Vampire, in the great BeNeLux-edition, was next.
This period, 70-74, is still my favorite JF-period.

Holger Haase said...

BTW I just awarded you the Premio Dardos: http://hammerandbeyond.blogspot.com/2009/03/hammer-and-beyond-receives-premio.html
Good work!!!

Robert Monell said...

This period, 70-74, is still my favorite JF-period.

My favorite period also. Thanks for noting your first JF videos.

Robert Monell said...

http://hammerandbeyond.blogspot.com/2009/03/hammer-and-beyond-receives-premio.html
Good work!!!

Many thanks for the award your support Holger!

Robert Monell said...

From EMAIL:
Sent: Wed 3/18/09 12:18 AM
To: monell579@hotmail.com

Hi Bob. I also like an idiot threw away several original Wizard boxes. At the time I thought hey took up too much shelf space! I still have the original prerecords but not the boxes of VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD, DEMONIAC and Rollin's ZOMBIE LAKE. The only oversized boxes that survived with the tapes are D'amato's MONSTER HUNTER, TRAUMA aka RED RINGS OF FEAR and Klaus Kinski in PSYCHOPATH on Force video. Ive done a lot of stupid things in my life. This was one of them--Greg

finis h said...

My first Franco was the Redemption Benelux release of Exorcism - which I hated - not long afterwards I saw the old UK VHS release of The Sinner, which didn't come highly recommended from the person that lent it to me, but which I found really affecting. I haven't seen it since but am always hopeful it will get a DVD release, somewhere, sometime. As for Exorcism, it has since become one of my favourite Franco films despite how different it is stylistically from his other work.

Robert Monell said...

Exorcism - which I hated

Thanks for listing your first JF video, finis. I know how first impressions of his work can turn around with time and repeat viewings. Certain of his films which I hated I now rate very highly and vice versa.

Tobias Thuresson said...

My first VHS-Franco was a Dutch tape of Sadist Of Notre Dame (Hate that version). I prefer the Exorcism cut of that film. However I would like to see the xxx cut as well.

Robert Monell said...

version). I prefer the Exorcism cut of that film. However I would like to see the xxx cut as well.

Interesting. I sometimes also prefer EXORCISM and the XXX cut has footage [not only hc-which JF himself participates in!-not in any other version]. This version is highly recommended to the serious JF student but rather hard to find.

Robert Monell said...

ommended to the serious JF student but rather hard to find.

I should add some grey markets have it.

scott said...

Hmm, the real first two that made me take notice - on the VHS domestic rental markets - were A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD and ILSA THE WICKED WARDEN.

Both paved the way for a certain obsession (overused term, but what else applies so well?)with his work though who would have thought that then?

I remain saddened by the bulk some of his BEST works remaining unavailable on a proper DVD release in any region. All these grandstaning 'groundbreaking' companies only seem content to rehash the same ones over and over again...

Robert Monell said...

ILSA was out in cut and uncut video versions, I remember. I saw the cut versions first.

The best of the Franco De Nesle prod. are still in rights limbo, LORNA, THE EXORCIST, LA COMTESSE PERVERSE.

scott said...

Don't forget SINNER! (Journal intime d'une nymphomane)

I too recall the cut version ILSA THE ABSOLUTE POWER, really awful.

Douglas A. Waltz said...

See, I liked the Sadist Of Notre Dame version more than the Exorcism version. The ending seemed more realistic to me than the shoot out ending of Exorcism. The triple X version is also a hoot to watch. I've seen the other two so many times that I don't need to have the dialogue translated.

Robert Monell said...

t ending of Exorcism. The triple X version is also a hoot to watch.

Yeah, it's wild watching those "attic" scenes w Jess participating.

Miles Bogus said...

I actually just rescued a copy of Demoniac from the local Goodwill for $1.99. I remember the cover fondly from my childhood, there was not enough gore on the back for my friends and I to rent it. We stuck mainly to Italian zombie films then, I did not actually see and JF until Venus in Furs in 2004, but I do remember the Wizard Video covers.