30 September, 2010


Here's the vintage WIZARD VIDEO of the Italian blaxploitation epic, MANDINGA, discussed in the previous blog. 

Those Wizard VHS tapes could have poor video/audio quality, were often censored, always cropped and missing footage but they knew how to do covers. I really miss the Exploitation VHS era. We'll be reviewing some Jess Franco VHS covers soon.

23 September, 2010

Jess Franco's MANDINGA

Racist, blaxploitation or just Eurotrash?

Before it was made by an Italian director, this was a Jess Franco project initiated after the US produced MANDINGO (1975) proved to be a reasonably successful item. Talk about exploitation!

Alain Petit tells the story in THE MANACOA FILES: Franco and his small cast and crew were to shoot in Montpelier, France. The director left equipment and cast members in a chateau and went to Italy to secure co financing from Sefi Cinematografica [Eurocine was co-producing in France]. In the meantime the French police showed up when called to resolve the unpaid hotel bill. They questioned Franco's staff and William Berger (who was to play the white slave owner) reported that the police then confiscated/impounded some equipment. Franco disappeared and the film was not completed. Berger also states in his interview in OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO that a significant amount of footage was shot. Set in the mid 19th Century deep South,  Lina Romay is cast of a slave woman who is raped by Berger's plantation owner, she gives birth to a daughter, also played by Romay.. The daughter is then raised as a white woman. Petit speculates that up to 45m of film may have been shot. That story may be more interesting than the film itself if it was completed. Certainly the 1976 Mario Pinzauti film of the same title is as sleazy, racist and offensive as exploitation gets. A trashy mixture of sadism, blaxploitation and sexual torture. 

Franco also attempted to produce a thriller (L'ASSASSIN PORTAIT DE BAS ) simultaneously with the MANDINGA shoot, utilizing the same cast and crew (minus Berger) and locations. It was also left undone in the wake of the financial chaos and police raid.

22 September, 2010

Soledad Miranda in Jess Franco's JULIETTE (1970)

Thanks to Amy Brown for this image from Jess Franco's unfinished 1970 Soledad Miranda film, JULIETTE. I've seen other shots framed like this but not with her in this pose. Along with the presumed lost Soledad Miranda-Franco title SEX CHARADE (also 1970), it has taken on semi-legendary status among Jess Franco collectors.

I did get a chance to speak with co-star Paul Muller a bit about this fascinating project and will be reporting on our talk in future blogs. 

06 September, 2010

The sinister Dr. Orloff

Howard Vernon despatches an assassin to Dr. Orloff's lair.
Dr. Orloff receives one final order from Dr. Mabuse - to destroy the towers, releasing Black Matter.

Who will survive the disaster?

05 September, 2010

RE: New Jess Franco Book!: IL CASO JESUS FRANCO

I was honored to have been invited to write the Foreward for Francesco Cesari's new Jess Franco book, CASO JESS FRANCO, which is a spin-off on a Jess Franco conference he organized in Venice, Italy. It is a multi-lingual book, as indicated in Francesco's email to be below. I wrote on his FACEBOOK wall that the cover image is a perfect example of Jess Franco's melding of Sade and Walt Disney! The book is being published in Italy in a limited run and should be available on some Italian online bookstore sites.

From: cesarfra@tin.it
Subject: Re: CASO JESUS FRANCO. All the authors of this book write in their own language: Italian, Spanish and your forward in English. This could sound strange but I like this, since JF films are multilingual too.

03 September, 2010