31 December, 2010


Intervision Pictures, a newly formed DVD company founded by Larry Gold Sr., will release Jess Franco's LOS OJOS SINIESTROS DEL DOCTOR ORLOFF (1973) along with his most recent erotic thriller PAULA-PAULA on DVD this coming January 11, 2011. These will be the first US DVD presentations of these titles.

I'll be reviewing these releases here as soon as I get screening copies.

We'd also like to welcome Nzoog to our administrative team. 

27 December, 2010


EL OJETE DE LULU | http://www.lfvw.com/el_ojete_lulu.html

We've already taken a cursory look at the notorious EL OJETE DE LULU (1985) one of the series of mid 1980s hardcore quickes which Jess made for Fernando Vidal Campos' FERVI Films, Madrid. Before examining LULU'S PACIFIER [EL CHUPETE DE LULU] (1985) we next present his "Pitos" titles: ENTRE PITOS ANDA EL JUEGO (1985) and UN PITO PARA TRES (1984), both "Candy Coster" films actually directed in collaboration with JF. Thanks to Nzoog for the photos and additional information.
I don't know anything about Llamas. In 2002, Franco said that "the poor guy died of AIDS in London not too long ago".

Llamas seems to have appeared in three non-Franco hardcores: DULCES COITOS IN BLUE (1985) by Ismael González, GRETA Y SUS REUNIONES SEXUALES (1985) by Manuel Mateos, with Mabel Escaño, and POLVOS BÉLICOS (1986) by Mateos, made for Jacinto 

Here's a cap from PARA LAS NENAS, LECHE CALENTITA (Hot Milk for the Babes).
Jose Llamas in the 1986 FERVI Films hardcore, PARA LAS NENAS...LECHE CALENTITA. According to Nzoog, Jess Franco said in 2002 that Llamas had died in London from AIDS. But we haven't been able to find any date or independent confirmation of this. I cannot locate any credits for him after 1992.
Here he is in UNA RAJITA PARA DOS, dubbed by Mayans.
Jose Llamas in the scatological spy saga UN RAJITA PARA DOS (!982), yet another FERVI hardcore. The review in OBSESSION notes the use of puns in the credits.

They both feature the late, mysterious "Jose Llamas" and employ an intricate "code" which I've examined in my essay published by the Italian magazine NOCTURNO: n. 60, Anno XII,  Luglio 2007, EL CODICE SEGRETO DI JESUS FRANCO, which will be the title of a chapter in my upcoming Jess Franco book THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR: THE WORLD OF JESS FRANCO, hopefully one of three Jess Franco books to be published next year.

More to come...
Jose Llamas aka Paco Jones | Luigi | Bruce Lyn | Luige Montany | Pepito Tiesez | Pepito Tiésez appeared in over 20 Jess Franco titles between 1982 and 1992. The above image of him is from the 1983 hardcore LILIAN (La virgen pervertida), an Al Pereira neo-noir which started out as a softcore but was had hardcore inserts added when the Spanish laws suddenly changed mid-production. Note that LILIAN... is a Golden Films Internacional production, not a FERVI film. It appears to have had a healthier budget and a more relaxed production schedule than the Fervis and the photography (by Juan Soler Cozar) is a notch superior to the FERVI series, which were sometimes shot with the director also acting as operator/lighting cameraman. .

We shall see how, as usual with JF, nothing is quite what it seems, even in the coarse sexual underworld of hardcore production. 

My valued Spanish colleague Nzoog notes of the title ENTRE PITOS ANDA EL JUEGO: "The title seems to stem from "Entre pillos anda el juego", the Spanish title for John Landis's "Trading Places", with "pitos" (cocks) replacing "pillos" (rogues). This Spanish title for the Landis in turn derives from the common construction "entre...anda el juego", which may have been initiated by the sixteenth-century Spanish playwright Francisco de Rojas y Zorrilla with his play "Entre bobos anda el juego". It might be roughly translated as "The whole game (or the business) is between...". In this case, with "pitos", it would be "cocks". 
The pseudonyms, in accordance with this title, are taken from the Spanish words "pito", "polla" and "picha", all of which mean "cock", to which a suffix has been added to make them seem like Spanish surnames (osa, ales, et). Other names in similar vein include José Llamas's "Pepito Tiésez" ("tieso", which means "stiff", suggests a hard-on) in a number of these films and "Pichi Palo" (roughly, "dick stick") for one R.A. García, all of these for "Para las nenas, leche calentita". The Mayans name in this film was, incidentally, and contrary to what I said above, "Tome Proculi"."

Thank you, Nzoog. UN PTIO PARA TRES may be a little more self explanatory. The films seem likely to have been made back-to-back or perhaps simultaneously, a practice not unknown to the director. Although OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO gives different year dates for both those are likely the release dates.  But different release dates are given in other sources.  UN PITO... does have a different cast supporting Romay, including Daniel Katz/Pito Lungo! (MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE) and longtime JF performer-production manager Antonio Mayans/Tony Procula. Llamas is in both and involved in the hardcore action. OBSESSION notes the title could be translated, A WHISTLE FOR THREE and quotes Franco saying that Emilio Linder (SLUGS) is in it, but I can't find him in the film. Linder does appear in the Golden Films Internacional hardcore, LILIAN... as well as DIAMONDS OF KILAMANDJARO.I b

So, where does the Secret Code come into play?

Several years ago I emailed this to Nzoog: "Your translations and information confirm to me that Franco uses a complex linguistic code as well as image/music codes. This involves using the Spanish {and other} languages as commenting voice, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes playful, sometimes self referencing, sometimes referring to cinema or literature in a historical sense. It's also a pop-cultural voice that Americans and most non Spaniards cannot hope to understand."

I still believe that, it even pertains to the most recent PAULA-PAULA. It's all about voices, and Franco's own voice is the most resonant of these satirical codifications. He's making fun of the entire genre and even his participation in it. What's most fascinating is that he includes the whole cultural context in this.
UN PITO PARA TRES shares the same elements as all the Fervi hardcores, a hotel setting, limited cast of familiar faces, sexually coded credits and group sex. The camera only breaks away to bracket the action, as in ENTRE PITOS... , as if taking a breather. 

Here's a slightly different take on ENTRE PITOS... from the brief review I did here in 2009

Produced byFERVI FILMS [Madrid]/ Fernando Vido Campos SP
Written and directed by Lulu Laverne [JF & LR]

Credited to Lulu Laverne (Jess Franco assited by Lina Romay) this is another no-budget hardcore financed by Fernando Vidal Campos' FERVI FILMS-Madrid, ENTRE PITOS ANDA EL JUEGO[1] is one of eight films Franco filmed in 1985. Four "straight" features: LA ESCLAVA BLANCA and LAS ULTIMAS FILIIPINAS (in association with Santiago Moncada), and two adventures for Golden Films Internacional shot back to back, BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE and VIAGE A BANGKOK ATUAD INCLUDIO. The four hardcores all star Lina Romay and cast members from the four "straight" features. This was explained by Antonio Mayan's in a subsequent interview*. These hardcores were shot in the afternoons during the production of the larger budgeted non-hardcore adventure films. EL MIRON Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA is the best and most personal of these micro-budgeted pornos and while ENTRE PITOS... is not the worst it illustrates just how much leftover creative energy the director mustered for these quickies. It opens with a jagged zoom back from the ocean [a familiar image from many Franco films] past some high rise buildings. Lina Romay is made up to look like a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow and she has two good scenes with Mabel Escano, a formidable Franco actress-comedienne of that era (EUGENIE-1980; LA ESCLAVA BLANCA, MANSION DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES), an erotic encounter in front of an circular mirror (cf SHINING SEX) and a silly small-talk conversation the women have while performing oral sex on one of the males. Franco himself has lauded this scene as one of his favorites [2]. Lina is quite amusing with her pouty red lips and tacky gold jumpsuit. She vigorously throws herself into the gynecological antics and the closing credit FIN appears over her enthusiastically licking semen off the pubic area of one orgiasts. Enough said. By the way, there is a plot involving a parody of sexual fidelity and a sort of amoral moral at the end. 

Except for the always crucial assistance of Lina Romay, these short features were all bascially directed, photographed, edited and scored by Jess Franco specifically as overtime work to his enhance his income during a period when the was a demand for hardcore in Spain. 

In an interview Antonio Mayans speaks in some detail about how these films had to be made under very specific circumstances and within tight parameters to be salable and profitable. Franco would shoot them on the set of a "straight" film with the same cast and locations and just have them do hardcore scenes. But the resulting products are still "Jess Franco" films, with all that entails. 

UN PITO PARA TRES has the advantage of Mayans (a capable and omnipresent dubber as well) and is listed as 77m in OBSESSION. I just have an abbreviated Spanish video. The antics here seem to be mainly concerned with "length" (Daniel Katz is "Pito lungo") and it's telling that Jess is proud of ENTRE PITOS... but is fuzzy on this one.

16 December, 2010

Jean Rollin (1938-2010) Poet Maudit: RIP

Some images of Jean Rollin and his films. 

 ... FER (JEAN ROLLIN, 1973 | http://esotika.blogspot.com/2007/01/la-rose-de-fer-jean-rollin-1973.ht...

AKA's: Jean Rollin's ... | http://www.vampyres-online.com/orphan.html

 ... Jean Rollin [1997 | http://www.institut-lumiere.org/francais/galeriephotos/rollin.html

 ... (Jean Rollin) 1973 | http://www.hotseatsmovies.com/2010/08/les-demoniaques-jean-rollin-1973.htm...

 ... eurocine howard vernon jean | http://www.wrongsideoftheart.com/tag/jess-franco/

Director Jean Rollin will be ... | http://www.fantasiafest.com/2007/en/news/release.php?id=29

 ... - 1979 - Jean Rollin | http://western-maniac.forum-pro.fr/fantastique-science-fiction-horreur-f...

directed by Jean Rollin | http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/dvd_reviews51/fascination.htm

Jean Rollin | http://portalorganico.blogs.ie/2009/07/18/filmes-series/

 ... The Cinema of Jean Rollin | http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue09/reviews/jeanrollin/requiem3.ht...

 ... rose de fer jean rollin 1973 | http://mubi.com/topics/8554?page=13

Jean Rollin is a Gallic ... | http://www.destructibleman.com/2009/02/les-raisins-de-la-mort-jean-rol...

 ... (Jean Rollin) 1973 | http://www.hotseatsmovies.com/2010/08/les-demoniaques-jean-rollin-1973.htm...

Gothic Tea Society: Requiem ... | http://gothicteasociety.blogspot.com/2009/05/requiem-for-vampire.h...

 ... Jean Rollin - My duck is | http://www.myduckisdead.com/2010/07/la-nuit-des-traquees-1980-jean-r...

is from jean rollin s ... | http://www.artandculture.com/users/2565-trinie-dalton

For the record he became involved in two Jess Franco projects. He stepped in as director for ZOMBIE LAKE (1980) when Franco didn't show up for the shoot and filmed zombie inserts for A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD.  His own films are unique, poetic, beautifully crafted examples of fantastique cinema. I had the pleasure of corresponding with and interviewing him 20 years ago and found him to be a humble, generous gentleman. He will be missed.

13 December, 2010


LE JOURNAL INTIME D'UNE NUMPHOMANE, a Robert De Nesle production from Jess Franco's very busy early 70s period,  is a visually and musically entrancing downer. Suicide, seduction, sexual abuse, prostitution, lesbianism, drugs, sex, rock n' roll, it's all here. Oh yes, and nymphomania. The delirious cubism of this film, along with the acid tinged Jean-Bernard Raiteux electric guitar powered score (think early Pink Floyd), redeems the TV-movie-meets-Russ Meyers script (credited to Jesus Franco Manera), which Robert De Nesle commissioned as a typical "Clifford Brown" sexploitation epic of the era. The script's structure and final edit {see the DVD review below} seem to indicate CITIZEN KANE as a possible influence, it makes sense considering Franco's history with Welles. The prying investigator here is female (Jacqueline Laurent, who played Lina Romay's earthly mother in LORNA, THE EXORCIST) and that makes all the difference,  the film takes on a resolute Feminist tone while remaining marketable sexploitation. Women are shown as pathetic objects of desire and the film opens with a girl-on-girl show involving Kali Hansa and Montserrat Prous. They are watched by a significant customer. Once again the performance and the audience are caught up in a kind of magnetic field of attraction, but this time the focus is on "watching."

A parallel investigation is carried on by Jess Franco himself, as the clueless local police inspector. He just wants a signed confession. In fact, the film examines the poisonous relationship between perpetrator and victim, sexploitation and Feminist critique of pornography. It's a candy colored 70s film noir-melodrama at baseline, though. Sexed up as much as possible. Filmed in long takes and plan-sequences, the most impressive being the stalking of Linda from a back street through an amusement part by the man who will destroy her life. The handheld camera floats past Linda and the predator taking in the garish booths and rides in the park, gliding by the customers who often stare into the camera while stifling a smile. At one point the operator's shadow becomes visible on a street sign. It's an audacious sequence, looking forward to the plan sequences in GEMIDOS DE PLACER (1982) a decade later. The film is like a fever-dream of and from the early 1970s. There's very little dialogue, except for Linda's narration from her journal. She speaks of her broken spirit and her sexual addiction. She must have constant stimulation from both sexes. She seems to trust and crave women more than men, though. She speaks of experiencing orgasm while watch a female object of desire dancing to the loud hard rock music. The film illustrates how her sexual addiction is subtly related to her childhood trauma. She actually realizes this and pleads for love, understanding, writing that the man who destroyed her must pay. We hear her words as they are read by Rosa Ortiz (Laurent) who realizes that her husband is a monster who must be destroyed. In the film's finale Rosa must make a terrible choice which she does in a spasm of rage and pain.The final image of the journal sinking into the ocean is a near-perfect metaphor which pulls the themes and characters together into the moment of truth which Franco is always seeking. It's one of the director's best written and acted films and the Raiteux, Cosma, Tical cues drive it at a frenzied pace. It should be noted that in 1972 the director made at least nine other films, including the unfinished zombie horror-comedy EL MISTERIO DEL CASTILLO ROJO.  It appears likely to have been made back-to-back, or perhaps overlapped, LES EBRANLEES, which also featured Prous as a doomed stripper in the sexual underworld of Southern Spain, filmed on the same locations with many of the main cast of SINNER. LES EBRANLEES is pure, unadulterated Eurosleaze and just as much of a downer as SINNER. Both films illustrate the dark side of the sex trade and sex in general and are guided by an vengeance delivering investigator, in the case of LES EBRANLEES, Howard Vernon as Franco's favorite PI, Al Pereira.  And there is at least one erotic dance scene in both films which could have been cut into the other one with no problem, and probably was. 

After finally digesting the new MONDO MACABRO DVD I must say that this presentation does something few DVDs accomplish: it forced me not only to reevaluate the film but Franco's "De Nesle" produced oeuvre and maybe his entire career. It's a sterling, glittering, luminous 1.1:66:1/16X9 transfer from excellent negative elements. It's the most complete version available and has French and English language options with new English subtitles. It has to be the definitive presentation of one of the director's less celebrated films from that busy era. If the film itself is not on the level of LA COMTESSE PERVERSE, LORNA, THE EXORCIST or LA COMTESSE NOIRE it's certainly interesting enough to be worth  discovering or rediscovering via this presentation. I've always said that Franco's career is the Mount Everest of European Trash Cinema and while this is not at the very top it's a full tier above dozens of efforts before and after its production in late 1972 and release in 1973. The intoxicating colors revealed in this transfer allowed me to see it as one of what Franco terms his "black films"/film noir, in this case drenched in early 1970s psychedelic drag. Or more exactly a Eurocrime/softcore item produced for a certain market. Editor Gerard Kikoine who reveals during a 15m interview that Robert De Nesle hired him to post-produce this and other Franco directed productions beginning with the 1972 LES DEMONS. The producer gave Kikoine virtual carte blanche, numerous reels of b&w footage, a few pages of explanatory script and the job of making it all make some kind of sense. Kikoine never met the director but became his silent partner who not only sculpted this and other Franco-De Nesle efforts into a final shape but added sound, dialogue, and, most importantly, chose the music from his own library collection. These include the studio musician Jean-Berand Raiteux's delirious acid rock tinged, Pink Floyd-influenced guitar and sonic fantasias selected from the legendary "Musique Pour L'image" with contributions from Vladimir Cosma and H. Tical (the latter uncredited on SINNER). This 1972 compilation was layered over numerous subsequent Franco-De Nesle items including LA MALDICION DE FRANKENSTEIN, LA COMTESSE PERVERSE and other key titles. 

I find it rather fascinating that Kikoine made these sound/music/editing choices independently of the director, a fact that allows us to reconsider just what a Jess Franco film is, how much of what we see and hear in these films was his choice. De Nesle and Kikoine had the final word on these titles and even more so in the hardcore versions made for those venues.. The featurette is one of the most revealing and fascinating on any Jess Franco DVD and might have been titled HOW TO MAKE A JESS FRANCO FILM [IN POST-PRODUCTION].  Franco rarely writes "scripts" and famously relies on malleable outlines/notes/treatments sometimes written/rewritten moments before the shoot, as Paul Muller confirmed to me in my 2005 interview with him.  I also had to the chance to interview and question Franco about what exactly he had to do with the editing of his films. He answered that on the Harry Alan Tower production he made a final cut with the producer's editor and then it was out of his hands. Even his personal favorite VENUS IN FURS underwent extensive post production alteration by a several teams of US based editors.  Given this preference for minimal scripts and moving along or being moved along after the shoot I think it's fair to say that Franco is most truly "there" or "present" during the actual shooting, after which he rushes off to shoot another film asap.

This extra also shows us the patrician face of De Nesle for the first time and Kikoine provides some humorous anecdotes of the Producer's busy "social" life and penchant for buying and promoting cheap pepla, Eurospy and Spaghetti Western titles. 

Watching it in this deluxe edition also allowed me to discover the subtle inflections of Jacqueline Laurent's performance as the woman who investigates her jailed husband's "crime." What's unique about his film in Franco's oeuvre is that the character's are dynamic rather than static and Laurent's character undergoes a radical shift in consciousness, an awakening from her petit bourgeois waking sleep. Like Linda she ends up preferring women to men sexually and seems done with considering men as sex partners.  Also, along with CITIZEN KANE, I realized that the theme, structure and plot owe a lot to one of the director's favorite films, Robert Siodmak's PHANTOM LADY (1943). That final image resonates whether Franco put it there or Kikoine found it and decided it was the perfect end point. 

More light is thrown on the film itself in the text notes by Pete Tombs who reveals that the story was suggested by De Nesle's wife, Elisabeth, and considers Laurent's character's class background and psychological make up as a key driving factor.  He also picks up on the network of glances which open the film and restate Franco's obsessive themes of watching and performance. Critic Stephen Thrower (who offers a 10m summation of the film's themes and characters) cites the CITIZEN KANE influence, the downbeat tone of the film and notes the difference between the handling or eroticism here and in such Franco Sade adapts as PLAISIR A TROIS (1973).  Thrower also considers Franco's career as a whole in a longer video essay FEAR AND DESIRE, discussing themes, images and music which make the director's films unique. 

Informative notes on Laurent, Kali Hansa, Howard Vernon, Anne Libert and Montserrat Prous are included along with a note on the score which names Armando Sciascia as  "H. Tical" whose cues are as outre as Raiteux's. Thanks to Curt Purcell for supplying me with the CD "Musique pour l'Image n. 39" which features a key cue in the film, HARLEM POP TROTTERS.