27 July, 2009

The Image of Robert de Nesle

100 proof Jess Franco and a 100% Robert de Nesle production...

The de Nesle family coat-of-arms....

Robert de Nesle employee Gianfrano Parolini aka Frank Kramer

C.F.F.P. co production with Artur Brauner

From the days of the early 1960's sword and sandal adventures to XXX Euro-hardcore sleaze of the mid 1970's Robert de Nesle knew where the money was...

Between 1970 and 1978 the legendary French producer Robert de Nesle produced/coproduced numerous Jess Franco-directed features. I had information that the producer died in 1978. I would appreciate it if anyone could confirm or correct his death date. Also, I have never seen a photo of the man himself. I did have an interesting discussion about Robert with Jess Franco a few years ago. Jess respected him as a business partner who gave him regular employment through the 1970s, while often demanding that he deform [for the French hardcore sex theatrical market] such masterworks as AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO and LA COMTESSE PERVERSE (both 1973). Franco has some perceptive things to say about him in the interview available on the X- RATED KULT DVD of LA FILLE DE DRACULA. He refers to him as "the Baron" relating him to Europe's fuedal past.

It's difficult to be sure, but it's possible that COCKTAIL SPECIAL, a 1978 hardcore version of Sade's PHILOSOPHY IN THE BEDROOM, was the producer's swansong. Anyone who helped produce THE THREE FANTASTIC SUPERMEN (1967), Georges Franju's JUDEX (1963), Riccardo Freda's MEXICAN SLAYRIDE (1967) and Franco's LORNA, THE EXORCIST can't be all bad. He also made a fortune with such peplum titles as FURY OF HERCULES (1961) and HERCULES VS THE SONS OF THE SUN (1964).

If anyone can locate an image of M. de Nesle please contact my email via my FACEBOOK badge at left.

Thanks to Bertrand for providing the image of Gianfranco Parolini.

25 July, 2009

LA SENORA MUERTE: Le Bad Cinema, Mexican style!

"If it's good enough for Boris..."



Directed by Jaime Salvador (1969)

No, this is not Jess Franco's 1965 MISS MUERTE/THE DIABOLICAL
DR. Z!

Prolific actor John Carradine made four horror
quickies in Mexico in 1968, as did Boris Karloff.

The combined shoot reportedly took only 8 weeks!

LA SENORA MUERTE is sublime Le Bad Cinema...

It makes you want to see the other three...

I appreciate the plastic/balsa wood "aesthetic"....

Cinema-degree-zero mise en scene of director Jaime Salvador.
Carradine looks more bags-under-the-eyes grotesque than usual.
It's really wierd hearing his poorly voice-cast dubber.
Carradine's introduction in a no-budget approximation
of a scientist's library in a 1950s Hollywood B movie.
Look for fiery Mexican horror queen Isela Vega (BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO
The "fashion show" featuring truly ghastly print designs and headwear!
All the women have mid-1960's big hair.
Regina Torne, the disfigured (by Carradine, of course) title character,
drives a classic Ford Mustang!
You don't need English subs to follow it.
It's a hoot!

LE BAD QUIZ: How many films did John Carradine appear in?

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20 July, 2009


The Divine Marquis... *FLORES DE PERVERSION is based on the posthumous Sade text "Augustine de villeblanche, ou le stratageme de l'amour: HISTORIETTES: CONTES ET FABLIAUS de Donatien-Alphonse-Francois, marquis de Sade, publies pour la premiere fois sur les manuscrits autographs inedits par Maurice Heine. A Paris, pour les members de la Societe du Roman Philosophique, 1926. 4to , 340 pages. 

A Manacoa Film Production Filmed in Malaga, Spain PAL R2 X-Rated-Kult DVD Spanish & German language options with removable English subtitles. Photo Gallery Original Trailer X-Rated Kult Trailers.  

 Mme Villeblanche (Lina Romay) operates an upscale prostitution empire located in a office tower somewhere in Spain. She spends most of her days frolicking in bed with her assistant (Rachael Sheppard), occasionally interrupted by business calls on her cellphone. Two new hookers are hired to lure clients into the torture chambers of Mme... a one-way trip for the customers. Jess Franco has returned to Sade again and again since JUSTINE in 1968. That adaptation of Sade's infamous 1791 novel was scripted by producer Harry Alan Towers, this 21st Century shot-on-Hi-Def direct-to-DVD item, along with its 2005 [onscreen (C) 2003] sister project FLORES DE PASION, has yet to make it to R1 Blu ray. Just as he brought Sade into the 20th Century with works like EUGENIE DE SADE (1970), PLAISIR A TROIS (1973) and EUGENIE...THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1970), he's now brought him into the early 21st Century, an age of cellphones, shaved pubic hair and the Internet. This is a situational rather than "plot" film, with Fata Morgana, Carmen Montes acting out bondage, whipping, castration scenarios which climax with sexual cannibalism under the direction of Franco's Princess of Eroticism, Lina Romay. 

This isn't a "nice" movie; approach with caution. Once again, it's all shot in anonymous apartments, hotel rooms and what looks like a brick-walled parking garage... minimalist indoor settings in which the "perverted" tableau unfold. The pubic shaving, lesbian groping and whippings go on and on until "duration" becomes just a term. Nothing often happens in Jess Franco films. That's not a typo. There's no fresh air in this perverse, enclosed universe. Sunlight is replaced by onscreen production lamps, pink, green, yellow electronica and colorized digital noise. We don't even have the comfort of continuous full color, sometimes the image turns b&w, with blood-red highlights. 


A nude man is crucified upside down and another (Ezequiel Cohen) is flayed, then castrated before his [obviously fake] genitalia are eaten by the hungry whores of the Mme... It's an artificial paradise, a vivid, unapologetic alternate reality presented for your consideration.... the Divine Marquis would be proud. Obsessively interactive with the ladies teasing the camera lens and the viewer beyond while the Franco favorite "Life is Shit" (THE MIDNIGHT PARTY) and other familiar JF tunes are heard on the soundtrack as if caught in a maddening loop. Will the future be a world without men, just languid, intelligent women who control finances and themselves and enjoy using sex as power? Is Jess wanting us to squirm amidst the sexual terrors? It's disturbing, amusing, boring, fascinating all at the same time. I changed my mind about it. You might hate it. You might, like myself, be unnerved to watch our blissful daughters of Sappho, their faces stained with a jet of the recently castrated victim's blood, look into the camera with an evil smile and assert, "And you...will be next." Jess really knows how to hurt a guy. And one can almost see his wicked smile superimposed over the unsavory doings. You get the distinct impression that Franco wants you to take it personally and will break up laughing when you do. It will be knowing, conspiratorial laughter. As I stated on my FACEBOOK homepage, I didn't enjoy it on first viewing. But seeing it again, well... let's just say it takes repeat viewings, if you can take it. ... and that's a BIG if! Jess Franco, you're beautiful, piss me off any time you want. I love it.... Thanks to Francesco Cesari for suggesting I might want to think twice.... Thanks to Eric Cotenas for helping me see the R2 German Kult DVD. Watch it in Spanish with English subs if you can get it. A German language track is also available. I wonder what my reaction will be to FLORES DE PASION? 

(C) Robert Monell, 2009

17 July, 2009

LUCKY music...but where's the DVD?

I'm now enjoying the invigorating, infectious Bruno Nicolai score for Jess Franco's 1967 Eurospy parody, AGENTE SPECIALE L.K.: OPERAZIONE RE MIDA/LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE on CD. But when are we going to get a deluxe, OAR, RI DVD presentation of this wonderfully entertaining number?

Hopefully, those friends of Jess at Severin or Mondo Macabro are reading this and thinking....

13 July, 2009

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD will go to Jess Franco at 2009 Fantastic Fest

Thanks to Lars Nilsen for alerting me to this. The 2009 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas runs from September 24-October 1. More information will appear on http://2009.fantasticfest.com/  Congratulations to Jess on yet another well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award!
Jess Franco to receive Lifetime Achievement  Award

Jess FrancoFor almost 50 years Jess Franco has been making his own kind of cinematic poetry, steeped with themes of sex, violence, jazz, and subversive black humor. He has made around 200 feature films, though no one can say exactly how many. Once an obscure but busy man, he has become a well-known and respected figure over the past ten or so years as audiences have joined earlier admirers like Fritz Lang and Orson Welles in acclaiming Franco's talent and vitality. Last year he was even awarded Spain's highest filmic honor, the Goya Award.  Fantastic Fest is deeply honored to present its first Lifetime Achievement Award to Jess Franco. We will present a selection of three of Franco's greatest works. We will also be braced with the presence of Franco's muse and inseparable collaborator Lina Romay.  This marks Jess Franco's first ever North American festival appearance. This award is sponsored by Ain't It Cool News.

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11 July, 2009

Favorite Jess Franco Dr. Orloff Movie

This is a slightly expanded version of a topic I already posted on www.cinemadrome.yuku.com/ . I moved it over here to get some feedback from the blog readers. There are already two votes for EL SINIESTRO DR. ORLOF...

There are four "official" Jess Franco Dr. Orloff films: GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961), EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF (1974), THE EYES OF ORLOFF (1972) and, my personal favorite, EL SINIESTRO DR. ORLOF (1982). I like it so much because even though it has similar characters and plot to the original GRITOS (which was, after all heavily influenced by Georges Franju's LES YEUX SANS VISAGE-1959) it has a visual style and mood all its own. Very oppressive ambiance highlighted by the Pablo Villa/Jess Franco score which the director himself performs on a synthesizer. Long deep, Goth organ chords which are synthed into shrieks not unlike the hookers kidnapped and experimented on by the SON of Dr. Orloff, effectively played by Antonio Mayans.

Franco's early 60's German-style Expressionism in such films as GRITOS..., EL SECRETO..., LA MANO DE UN HOMBRE MUERTO aka THE SADIST BARON VON KLAUS is indebted to early Fritz Lang, Murnau's NOSFERATU and John Brahm's THE LODGER. But by the early 80s the director had developed a new style highlighted by garish colors, reflections within reflections, telezoom-plan sequences and a tendency to pattern actors within a highly artificial mise-en-scene. One scene in EL SINIESTRO... features a shot of the elderly, wheelchair-bound Orloff (Howard Vernon) whose aging, vulture-like head is haloed by a bright green tropical plant leaf as he argues with his son, making a silent visual comment on the old man's vegetative but tenacious physical state. Then there's another Franco "red room" in which the victims are strapped nude to a floor level table and disintegrated by the younger Orloff's ray only to be re integrated into the shell of his beloved mother, Melissa (Rocio Fexias (GEMIDOS DE PLACER has a ambiguous sensuality in her double role). Tony Skios (Antonio Rebello) and Juan Soler Cozar (the film's DP) are amusing as they have fun with their Inspector Tanner and Malou roles.

The film is essentially a running dialogue between Orloff Senior and son Alfred on medical ethics and hidden motives. Alfred admits to being stimulated by the cries of his victims, the "gritos en la noche" are music to his twisted consciousness.
Andros (Raf Smog=Rafael Cayetano) is now a burly, leather jacketed figure who looks like he might be a bouncer in the local disco but behind his sunglasses he's eyeless and as helpless a victim as the women he captures. This has a completely delirious visual/audio atmosphere which overwhelms the derivative plot and familiar characters. As Franco's comment on the denizens of the disco age and the hedonistic "new democracy" (which Franco himself parodies as the flaming gay "witness") of early 1980's Spain. Once again, style becomes content. The synth theme MELISSA was written by Franco and Rebecca White.

The opening aerial images of the smog choked city of Alicante are a kind of late twentieth century counterpart to the foggy 1912 streets of Hartog in GRITOS... . And the ending is rich is irony, with Vernon's chilling laugh. Not on DVD anywhere that I'm aware of, this needs a R1 presentation.

There's a Spanish video version of this retitled EXPERIMENTOS MACABROS [Aper Video] which was subtitled by a US gray market company.

EL SINIESTRO DR. ORLOF is not tier one Franco, but I would place it high in tier two. It should have been part of the "ORLOFF COLLECTION" released on DVD some years back, instead of THE INVISIBLE DEAD, which has Dr. Orloff as a character (played by Vernon), but is not a Jess Franco film. The character of Dr. Orloff resurfaces again and again throughout the director's vast filmography.

I'll be discussing the equally obscure EYES OF DR. ORLOFF here in the near future.

I would be interested in knowing which JF Orloff films are personal favorites.

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09 July, 2009

Today is Soledad Miranda's Birthday

The late, legendary, multifaceted Spanish actress Soledad Miranda was born today in 1943. Although she died much too young, she has become immortal to those who have experienced her uncanny presence in such Jess Franco films as EL CONDE DRACULA, VAMPYROS LESBOS and EUGENIE DE SADE, among others.
Please visit Amy Brown's magnficent, information-rich tribute site @ www.soledadmiranda.com.

05 July, 2009

The Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet: N A PRIS LES DES... (N TOOK THE DICE)

Alternate versions, alternate realities...

[COPIED FROM UBUWEB: N. a pris les dés ... aka N. took the dice (1971)

This film is evidently a reworking of Robbe-Grillet's previous film L' Éden et après, using alternate takes and re-editing that has the order of scenes to be governed by 'a throw of the dice' (shown in new footage).

Cast & Crew

Directed by
Alain Robbe-Grillet

Writers Alain Robbe-Grillet

Sylvain Corthay
Catherine Jourdan
Richard Leduc
Lorraine Rainer
Pierre Zimmer

Original Music
Michel Fano

Country France

Release Year


Alain Robbe-Grillet in UbuWeb Sound]

Catherine Jourdan encounters her double in the desert....

Here's a link which Firirinabe posted on my www.cinemadrome.yuku.com site in EXPANDED CINEMA: the Alain Robbe-Grillet topic. It takes you to a video of the rarely seen  N A PRIS LES DES (N TOOK THE DICE), the 1971 TV version of L'EDEN ET APRES, Robbe-Grillet's 1970 erotic-art-horror film which I saw in New York City during the 1970s with the director in attendance. N... is a completely different edit, the montage is determined, according to what we see, by moves on a board game which the main characters play. This French-Slovak-Tunisian co productions is one of his most experimental works.
This rarity has turned up on UbuWeb. The video quality of the 87m feature may be only fair, looking like a somewhat worn VHS, but it's the only way I know of to see this film. L'EDEN ET APRES has been released on a good quality 2008 Italian DVD. I have seen it and will be discussing it here soon. Both versions are worth seeing for those interested in the work of the late writer/director.

Thanks to Firirinabe and Eric Cotenas

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03 July, 2009


Film Still

The Baron of Arizona

Samuel Fuller

United States
97 minutes
Black and White
The late Samuel Fuller remains one of my favorite American filmmakers. He was American all the way, but he questioned and critiqued the concept of the American Dream and explored some dark passages in US History. Tonight on TCM at 9:30PM Eastern one of his most unique works will be aired, the bizarre anti-western THE BARON OF ARIZONA (1950), Fuller's account of James Reavis aka "The Man Who Stole Arizona" (almost). Vincent Price is ideally cast as the obsessive swindler. Shot in noirish b&w the film also has a Gothic feel. Highly recommended.
I had the pleasure of meeting Fuller in 1980 and found him engaging, generous and eager to encourage a struggling writer. I like his work for the same reason I admire Jess Franco, they are both ferociously independent, risk-taking and true to themselves in an often ruthless business which tends to discourage personal filmmaking and innovation.
THE BARON OF ARIZONA will be preceded and followed by two other early Fuller titles, I SHOT JESSE JAMES, his debut feature, and THE STEEL HELMET, a gritty war movie, along with a documentary.

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