27 October, 2013

THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA:PART 4


The audience in MAIS QUI DONC A VIOLE LINDA?, the 80m softcore version of  THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA now in 1080p full HD resolution on Blu-ray from Severin Films. This version features the English language track. Onscreen title: BUT WHO RAPED LINDA?
Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.34:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono



The opening title card for THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA, the 78m 58s hardcore version which was transferred from a collector's vintage video. This version is in French with English subtitles.
Both are presented in 2.35:1 OAR and both are rare, original release versions.

In telling the story of the final disintegration of  this dysfunctional family, within the context of  mid 1970s European porn,  Jess Franco once again illustrates he is most interested in the style of the telling. Sometimes it seems that he just made one film, over and over and over. That one film could be the story of the cruel, guilt-ridden, sadistic, demented father and his wounded daughter. That tale goes all the way back to GRITOS EN LA NOCHE, filmed in 1961. It would resonate through EUGENIE DE SADE (1970), FACELESS (1988) and into his digital era (BROKEN DOLLS). The setting in LINDA is a Greek island (actually filmed in a villa near Alicante, Spain, chosen by Franco for its Grecian style architecture), with a musical commentary which was carefully crafted to sound Greek in style, played with Greek instruments, according to the director, who once again worked closely with the composer. The music is rousing, at times delicate, exotic and somtimes evocative of a lullaby morphing into a fever dream. The dreamer is Marie-France, whom we find out at the conclusion has dreamed the entire scenario, in an twist ending suggested by Franco's Eurocine producer Marius Lesoeur, to soften the film, make it more salable. The film is circular in structure, as is the music, which seems to go round and round, dancing around the action and players.

As in Franco's 1970 EUGENIE, THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVESION, the enclosed narrative begins and ends with its female protagonist reading a book in bed, which presumably triggers a (prophetic?) dream. The book, as we find out in the final image (another zoom shot), is MAIS QUI DONC A VIOLE LINDA? by "David Khunne," one of Jess Franco's most frequent pen-names. It's one of the numerous lost/faux texts in the Francoverse. The same David Khunne would be credited as writing the "novel" (which has never surfaced) on which GRITOS EN LA NOCHE was based. It's almost as if Franco wanted to deny literary responsibility for his scenarios. His name is nowhere to be found on any version of this film, credited to American Jazz musician J.P. Johnson. In the fascinating HOT NIGHTS documentary interview by David Gregory, Franco floats the name of James Joyce as an influence, reminding us that his late 1990s cannibal epic TENDER FLESH opens with a Joyce quotation. Franco specifically mentions the seminal Joyce novel ULYSSES, in which the stream-of-consciousness style allows for numerous conscious and unconscious points of view. Considering that LINDA is a stream of sexual fantasies, traumatic psycho-sexual memories, guilty flashbacks, hallucinations, RASHOMON like renderings of the murder at the film's core and fetid sexual encounters between various characters, all within Marie-France's organizing dream, Joyce is not an inapt comparison. Time slows down, expands, contracts as the sexual encounters become more frequent and it becomes more and more difficult to discern what is real and what is fantasy. The locked room where Radeck once murdered his best friend and caused the death of his wife when he caught them making love could represent the sealed off area of the Unconscious, which only releases its repressed images in dreams, psychoanalysis and art works.

The film itself is a heated fantasia on themes and images which might have fascinated Jacques Lacan (one thinks of his pyscho-analystic construct, the Mirror Stage), with Franco's frequent, almost obsessive use of mirrors to illustrate the irreality of it all and open up the claustrophobic confines in a distinctly Cubist manner. In the first meeting between Marie-Franco and Olivia in the hardcore version, the bodies of the women are broken up into literal cubes by the villa's doorway, windows and parapets. Something is happening here but we don't exaclty know what it is, and the indirection, fragmentation of it all holds the proceedings in a stylistic suspense until the last moments. The intensity which permeates the atmosphere (especially in the hardcore version) may explain the absence of the director himself in his usual cameo (Basilio in A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD being an obvious example) as a subnormal observer of the action, that role taken this time by Pierre Taylou (KISS ME KILLER's hippie musician) as the mumbling, much abused manservant, Abdul.

The softcore BUT WHO RAPED LINDA? adds layers to the already complex matrix of voyeurism, as the surveillance once again illustrates the director's recurring interest in the interactive nature of performance. He's as fascinated with the audience of the show as he is with the performer, you can't have one without the other, and if the performance is an erotic one, then pornography is in the eye and mind of the beholders. Speaking of pornography, the infamous ravishing by banana must be a low point in the director's checkered career, but one wonders if he even filmed it, as it seems on close examination that it may be yet another Eurocine insert from another film, although Franco did shoot all of the other hardcore material. Even Sade himself may have been hard pressed to find eroticism in a close up of vaginal bleeding.

A further stylistic elaboration comes with the added scenes (one again seemingly at the behest of Eurocine) of the police inspector (Bigotini again) and the sex magazine photographer (Catherine Laferriere, EXORCIMS) who spy on the (offscreen) action via amusing cutaway inserts. Franco speaks of the tonal variation of these scenes in a second documentary, JESS AND LINDA TALK LINDA, which was taped in 2008, and shows the late couple attempting to remember the exact shooting circumstances of LINDA. They are both in good spirits and this is a moving, essential tribute as well as illustration of how Jess Franco and Lina Romay basically operated as one creative unit for decades.

The Bonus Features also include the Fantastic Fest Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation to Franco, rare outtakes, a luridly narrated (in hard-boiled English by a voice which sounds like the dubber of Bigotini in the film) 4 minute (softcore) trailer, and an informed talk on the film by critic Stephen Thrower, who helpfully pinpoints the shooting date of the film as exactly 40 years ago, in October 1973.

Given the numerous versions of this film which have surfaced over the years, I very much appreciated this presentation of two rare alternate versions, one in 1080p HD, the other transferred from a blurry, vintage VHS. The Blu-ray brings out a range of color and detail never seen in all the versions I've collected over three decades and probably looks better than any 35mm theatrical presentation anywhere, anytime. And I, for one, also appreciate those slight imperfections, projector scratches, and occasional glitches which remind us that these versions of this quota quickie were made for quick playoff on international soft and hardcore grindhouse circuits. Having the film on BD, DVD, including the VHS release, on separate discs, all supported by relevant special features, makes this a kind of scholar's edition and is the way to do a Limited Edition of a crucial Jess Franco film.

[Thanks to Eric Cotenas for the screencaps and Kris N. Gavin for his assistance is arranging my interview with Paul Muller]

(C) Robert Monell 2013

25 October, 2013

THE HOTS NIGHTS OF LINDA: PART 3



The Blu-ray transfer of the soft version of this film is, of course, superior in terms of color, definition, focus and detail. It's really quite beautiful in spots, especially the scene where Alice Arno and Lina Romay smoke and talk amidst a purple haze. A very ethereal scene which was used in a different context as the opening credits sequence in Franco's TENDER AND PERVERSE EMANUELLE, made simultaneously with .... LINDA?
 http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5zJ2kO0hiyY/UloRmYxqoYI/AAAAAAAAKRg/aC6ezE1_13E/s1600/Linda2.png

But it's nice to have the hard version also, even from an ancient VHS source with the [superior] French soundtrack and new English subtitles. It should also be noted that this film has parallels with NECRONOMICON, LORNA THE EXORCIST, AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO in the way the villain Radeck meets his end getting slashed in the back of the neck by a daemonic, seductive female. A recurring conceit in a career of  reverberating images, characters, themes, moments in the teeming filmography of Jess Franco.

Paul Muller, a skilled, prolific Swiss actor who played the drug addicted zombie-kidnapper in Riccardo Freda's 1957 classic I VAMPIRI,  confided to me during an interview I conducted with him in 2004 that he was well aware and upset by the often slapdash, deceptive practices Franco would use to get his films made. Muller noted that THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA (both soft and hard versions) was made simultaneously with the aforementioned TENDER AND PERVERSE EMANUELLE and "SEXY BLUES" aka KISS ME KILLER, but he was the only actor on set who was in on the scam. He made sure Jess was aware that he was aware and dangled his contract indicating that he better not see himself in two films for the price of one. Muller added, in an exasperated tone, that Jess then proceeded to start yet another film VOYAGE TO ST. TROPEZ, on the same locations, with the same actors, shortly thereafter! That film was later taken over by another Eurocine contract director. Dan Van Husen also told me he was unaware he would be appearing in TENDER AND PERVERSE... while appearing in the film for which he signed, KISS ME KILLER. 1973 was a very busy year indeed for Jess Franco...

Only Jess Franco could make four films simultaneously while pulling the wool over just about everyone's eyes.

21 October, 2013

Further Thoughts on THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA

aka PLAISIR SOLITAIRE (FR); LA FELICITA NEL PECCATO (IT); CARESSES DE CHATTES: LINDA, LA MAISON DES PECHERESSES (Belg): Shooting title: MORBOSITA.

Marie-France (Alice Arno, real name Marie-France Broquet) is hired by Bigotini, a somewhat sleazy Parisian agent (Rick Deconninck), as a professional companion to the paralyzed daughter (Veronica Llimera)  of the wealthy Mr. Radeck (Paul Muller) at his villa on a Greek island. When she arrives Radeck informs her that she will have to act as a nurse to Linda and deal with his emotionally disturbed niece, Olivia (Lina Romay), a nymphomaniac with a cause, described by Radeck as "a paranoid obsessed with sex."
Everything and everyone in this highly dysfunctional household will be revealed as deceptive and threatening to the increasingly disturbed, and stimulated, Marie-France. Will she be the family's savior, or its victim?

First of all, let's get the titles straight. The main feature here is MAIS QUI DONC A VIOLE LINDA? (BUT WHO RAPED LINDA?), presented with its hardcore, alternate version LES NUITS BRULANTES DE LINDA (THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA) as an extra bonus feature on the 3 disc Limited Edition. This was one of over a dozen feature film projects begun by Jess Franco in 1973, which would result in 11 completed films and several intriguing sounding, aborted shoots, such as Le Manoir du Pendu (The Hanged Man's Mansion).

The well-meaning, kindly Marie-France could be one of the exquisitely naive heroines of  a 1950s Douglas Sirk melodrama (IMITATION OF LIFE, WRITTEN ON THE WIND) who gets caught up in a whirlwind of psycho-sexual corruption while attempting to keep her bearings. "It's a question of morality," she informs Bigotini, who replies he wouldn't know anything about that. One of the least remarked about aspects of the films of Jess Franco is how he consistently produces what could be termed fables of punishment within the amoral system of European Sexploitation over several distinct eras. His most personal projects, the breakaways, including NECRONOMICON-1967, VENUS IN FURS-1969,  LORNA, THE EXORCIST-(1974), to name a few, are about the systematic punishment of libertines by daemonic females. In the world of Jess Franco during this period you can attend an orgy, torture and murder a woman, cheat on your wife, sell your soul to devil, but someone, as the song in VENUS IN FURS goes, will come knocking on your door. But this is just a formal element one also finds in Medieval painting and literature, both of which are directly referenced in NECRONOMICON. The real Jess Franco admired Sade both as a anti-hero and a literary-philosophical visionary. In Sade punishment is always erotic and presented as a kind of psychoanalytic spectacle, a kind of performance art which Jess Franco would start incorporating into his obsessive mise-en-scene from NECRONOMICON onward. Radeck is a classic sadist who whips the mute servant Abdul (Pierre Taylou) in the same set used for the torture dungeon whipping scene in Franco's LA COMTESSE NOIRE, also made in 1973. If this can be viewed as a Sadean melodrama, it also has something in common with the horror genre, a monster. In this film, as in Franco's A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD, THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS, THE SECRET OF DR. ORLOFF and many other titles, the monster is the Family.


At base, Jess Franco, like Goya, Dali, Cervantes, was a Spanish artist, with all the baggage that entails. He might have found himself living in Paris, Rome or wherever but he would always return to Spain, just as Mathis Vogel would return to confess his sins to his colleague at Notre Dame in EL SADICO DE NOTRE DAME.

Franco, like Luis Bunuel, finds much ironic amusement in the punishment of sinners, ever though neither director, both Spanish iconoclasts, was a believer in Jesus or Francisco Franco, inescapable icons in a Catholic country still living under a dictatorship which found something in common with other European Fascist movements from the 1930s onward. LINDA... like Bunuel's VIRIDIANA (1961) is primarily about rape within a family and the fallout from the repression of that fact. Of course, Bunuel's film was famously banned in its homeland and I doubt if Franco's film, although mostly shot in Alicante (the opening was lensed in Paris) played there in any form during the1970s.

NOTE: When I mentioned the Bunuel parallel to Franco during my interview with him in 2004, he quickly replied, "But Bunuel was free, I was not." Actually, Bunuel paid a price for being given carte blanche while Jess Franco paid a different price. LINDA... was a French-Italian co production between Eurocine and Parva films. As we shall see, 1973 would be the year when Jess Franco found a kind of artistic freedom within a strict economic imperative imposed by Eurocine. In the next blog post I'll discuss how this film fulfills a conventional contract while finding a unique cinema structure which the director himself confirms was inspired by the prose experimentation of James Joyce.

(C) Robert Monell, 2013


20 October, 2013

THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA BLU-RAY + DVD COMBO from SEVERIN



The Hot Nights of Linda (Blu-ray)
Alice Arno is a Douglas Sirk heroine who enters up in James Joyce conundrum in the House of the Marquis De Sade. Yes, it's Jess Franco all over again! I first watched this 1973 Jess Franco film on a blurry, color faded VHS courtesy of VIDEO SEARCH OF MIAMI about 20 years ago. I was happy to get it since it was such an obscure film, one of 11 films the prolific director completed during one of his most creative outbursts. Watching this beautiful new Blu-ray transfer was like seeing it for the first time. The colors are luminous, it looks as well-composed and sharp as a Jess Franco film can, and I noticed a universe of fascinating visual detail which was suppressed by the general scuzziness of the 10 previous alternate versions I have collected on VHS over the last few decades.

I'll have much more to say about this must-have 3 disc set in future blog posts. It's simply one of the best-ever presentations of a Jess Franco film when experienced on this Limited  Edition.

15 October, 2013

More New Blu-ray releases

These two Jess Franco films, both made in the prolific year of 1973, were released on August 8 by Severin and Mondo Macabro. We're awaiting screeners for future review.

The Hot Nights of Linda Blu-ray

United States
Les nuits brûlantes de Linda / La Felicita nel Peccato / Blu-ray + DVD Severin Films | 1975 | 77 min | Not rated | Oct 08, 2013

The Hot Nights of Linda (Blu-ray)

And from MONDO MACABRO

Released Today – October 8th, 2013
How to Seduce a Virgin
Directed by Jess Franco
The beautiful Countess Martine de Bressac is released from the expensive asylum where she was incarcerated after castrating her former lover. She returns to her luxurious villa on the coast and goes at once down into her private underground dungeon....

Amazon.com: How To Seduce A Virgin: Robert Woods, Alice Arno ...

14 October, 2013

Jack the Ripper Blu-ray

CINEMADROME - THE WORLD OF JESS FRANCO FORUM - Jack the Ripper blu-ray
Here are some reports on the new Ascot BD's of JACK THE RIPPER...


Jack the Ripper Blu-ray

Germany
Jack The Ripper – Der Dirnenmörder von London Ascot Elite Home Entertainment | 1976 | 92 min | Rated FSK-18 | Sep 24, 2013

Jack the Ripper (Blu-ray)
Large:

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
German: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles
Japanese, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Mandarin (Traditional)

Discs
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)

Playback
Region free
Price
List price: €9.28   Amazon: €9.95
Third party: €9.95
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Blu-ray rating
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Audio 4.0 of 54.0
Extras 4.0 of 54.0
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Jack the Ripper

 (1976)

Jack the Ripper Blu-ray delivers great video and audio in this excellent Blu-ray release

No synopsis for Jack the Ripper.

For more about Jack the Ripper and the Jack the Ripper Blu-ray release, see the Jack the Ripper Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.

Starring: Klaus Kinski, Lina Romay, Herbert Fux, Josephine Chaplin, Andreas Mannkopff
Director: Jesús Franco

» See full cast & crew

Jack the Ripper Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jess Franco's Jack the Ripper arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of German label Ascot Elite Home Entertainment.

13 October, 2013

LAST TANGO IN SITGES

This had it's premiere yesterday, 11 October 2013, in Spain (Sitges Film Festival). Filmed in Spain and Germany this was completed by Actor-Director Antonio Mayans after the death of Jess Franco earlier this year. Our correspondent Nzoog was there and we will have a review up on CINEMADROME asap.

05 October, 2013

DOWNTOWN: JESS FRANCO GOLDEN GOYA COLLECTION BLU-RAY COMING

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Downtown - Die nackten Puppen der Unterwelt (Goya Collection) [Blu-ray]

Jesus Franco , Lina Romay , Jess Franco    Freigegeben ab 18 Jahren   Blu-ray
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Preis: EUR 12,73
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