29 December, 2011


I'm sharing the above link, originally posted on THE FRANCO LOUNGE at THE LATARNIA FORUMS, to this French site which gives more details on the previously blogged X-RATED KULT 6 DVD Jess Franco boxset. The text is in French only but this appears to be a re release of NEVROSE, the Eurocine edited/ French version of EL HUNDIMIENTO DE LA CASA USHER (1983) dubbed  into German. There are also 18m of bonus scenes from the Spanish version of the film. But there were actucally two Spanish versions of the film, one never released. It will be interesting to find out just what is contained in these alternate scenes.  I will update when I find out more.

If there is anyone who could provide a complete interpretation of the French text on Cinephiliquement it would be appreciated.

26 December, 2011


Anyone have any detailed information on the alternate versions and bonus materials offered here? This seems to be the DVD debut of ROBINSON UND WILDEN SKLAVINNEN at least. Also a DVD version of the uncut JUNGFRAUEN REPORT.  Rather hefty price tag! At least X-RATED always has those nice covers taken from vintage artwork*

*[Image originally posted on THE FRANCO LOUNGE @ THE LATARNIA FORUMS]

22 December, 2011


Jess Franco celebrates the Holiday Season with his prayer beads!

Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year to all our blog readers. There will be great news about Jess Franco DVD releases in 2012!

04 December, 2011

Franco's occasional actors: AGUSTÍN GONZÁLEZ

Although Jess Franco has been likened on occasions to Roger Corman, let’s face it, it cannot be said that many people on to bigger things started out with him as has been the case with Corman or, within Franco’s own country, Iquino. But there are a few exceptions, one of them being Agustín González, a now deceased actor who has had a theatrical award and a square in Madrid posthumously named after him. And indeed, despite his impressive number of film credits, it was on the stage in Madrid, where he was born, that Agustín González Martínez (1930-2005) really made his mark.

Starting out in a university theatre group during his student days, he eventually graduated to the legitimate stage in 1953. As for his film debut, González claims in a book-length interview with him that Jess Franco, “a very good friend of mine” (1) , on seeing him in a play, recommended him to Juan Antonio Bardem for a role in Bardem’s Felices pascuas(1954), on which Franco was working as an assistant director. What followed was an extremely active career in supporting roles, occasionally landing the odd lead, Julio Diamante’s Los que no fuimos a la guerra (1965) and Carlos Serrano’s Batida de raposas (1976). A regular in the cinema of Luis García Berlanga and Fernando Fernán-Gomez, he also worked for Carlos Saura, Mario Camus, Joaquín Romero-Marchent, Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi, José María Forqué, Eloy de la Iglesia, José Luis Garci and other distinguished Spanish directors. He may also have served as a good luck charm as the first two Spanish films to win the Oscar to the Best Foreign Language Film featured him prominently in the cast: Garci’s 1982 To Begin Again (a poor film, but with González as a scene-stealing hotel concierge) and Fernando Trueba’s Belle Epoque (made in 1992, and featuring González in his by-then familiar manic priest act).

In the midst of all this film activity, González was essentially concentrating on a distinguished career on the stage, including the title role in Othello, Don Latino in Valle-Inclán’s Luces de bohemia (which he repeated in the film version of 1985), the lead of Fernando Fernán-Gómez’s play Las bicicletas son para el verano (which he repeated in Jaime Chávarri’s film version of 1984), Henry II in James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter and the writer in Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth.He was excellent playing the silent main role in a production of Samuel Beckett’s video-play Eh, Joe?.

Film-wise, he did not truly rise to prominence until the late 1970s, when he emerged as a bald-headed, mustached, gruff-voiced character star actor, much in demand for either comic or “straight” performances as authoritarian right-wing types. In the 1980s, he came close to becoming part of the “inner circle” of Spanish film actors inhabited by Fernando Fernán-Gómez, Paco Rabal and José Luis López Vázquez. A tendency to be typecast, along with a penchant for theatrical hamming, may have kept him from quite making it but he nonetheless remained busy in second leads and “guest star” cameos for the rest of his filmography. Other than repetitions of his stage successes, he also played some leads: cast against type as a liberal lawyer in Pedro Costa Musté’s El caso Almería (1984); a more characteristic villainous protagonist in Santiago San Miguel’s Crimen en familia (1985); a hard-nosed cop in the same director’s Solo o en compañía de otros(1991).

It goes without saying that he found himself, on occasion in Euro-genre films. The parts he played parts in this region include his maniacal character in Ricardo Blasco’s Gringo (1963) and, in another rare lead, the troubled man in the fantasy Testigo azul (Alucinema)(1989) , directed by Francisco Rodríguez Gordillo , who was later to helm the Paul Naschy film Licántropo . González was also, in fact, once directed by Naschy himself, in the comedy Madrid al desnudo (1979), playing a sleazy publisher. This is one of the very few times in which he did not dub his own voice. As a point of interest, in Pilar Miró's drama Gary Cooper, que estás en los cielos (1980), González appears as a Spanish actor who's off to Italy "to make that shitty horror film".

Gringo(1963, Ricardo Blasco)

Madrid al desnudo (1979, Paul Naschy)(Voice dubbed by Antolín García)

Testigo azul (Alucinema)(1989, Francisco Rodríguez Gordillo)(Best Actor award at the Imagfic festival for this role)

Agustín González appeared in two Jess Franco films. In the first of these, Rififí en la ciudad, he played (or, perhaps, overplayed) the gay gangster. In the second, La muerte silba un blues, he plays the shorter role of a cop, appearing early in the film. What follows are caps from his two Franco roles:

Rififí en la ciudad(1963)

La muerte silba un blues(1964)

González received the Gold medal for Contributions to the Fine Arts in 1983; he was also nominated to the Goya (Spanish Oscar) on four occasions. He died suddenly at the age of 74, while engaged in a production along with José Luis López Vázquez (seen with Soledad Miranda in Robert monell's previous blog entry) and Manuel Alexandre (the trumpeter in Franco's La muerte silba un blues). His personal partner for many years (1954-1986) was the noted actress María Luisa Ponte, also seen in several Jess Franco films.

Some of his stage roles:

As Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (Tony Isbert played Romeo)

As Don Latino in Valle-Inclán's Luces de bohemia (one of the actor's "signature" roles)

In the title role of Molière's Tartuffe (TV production)

As Andrew Wyke in Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth

Trailer for Crimen en familia, with Agustín González as the villainous lead.

Agustín González singing, in José Luis Cuerda’s Así en la tierra como en el cielo (1995)

Agustín González and Fernando Fernán-Gómez (of Rififí en la ciudad) in a scene from José Luis Garci’s The Grandfather (1998).

Agustín González’s imdb entry:

Agustín González’s Wikipedia entry:

Cover of a book of interviews with Agustín González

The inauguration of a square in Madrid named after Agustín González in 2006

(1) Lola Millás. Agustín González: Entre la conversación y la memoria (Madrid: Ocho y Medio. 1995)

Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen

22 November, 2011

Franco's 80s actors: ANTONIO DE CABO

Although Antonio de Cabo started out with Franco in the early seventies, one tends to associate him with the director’s later output in Spain, which made better use of his easily recognizable appearance: tall and spindly, with a long, saurian face, bushy eyebrows and a heavy head of silver hair. His case is similar to that of Trino Trives – a man of the theatre who, although not fundamentally an actor, performed as such for Jess Franco and, would seem, few other directors (none at all in Trives’s case, at least from what information we have). The basic vocations of this well-educated man with a well-off family background were as a stage director, a set designer and a translator of plays. In the latter capacity, he was responsible for the translations used in the very first Spanish productions of Tennessee Williams, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which opened in Madrid in 1959, with Aurora Bautista (of Eugenio Martín’s A Candle for the Devil) as Maggie. De Cabo also translated The Rose Tattoo and Sweet Bird of Youth.

Some of De Cabo’s work for Franco, in Drácula contra Frankenstein (1972) and Eugenie (Historia de una perversión)(1980), was in keeping with his background, as a location scout and art director, although he did appear briefly in the earlier film. His first acting role for Franco, in X312 – Flight to Hell (1971) is curious. At first, we think that the presumably gay Spanish aristocrat who is among the plane passengers will be part of the main cast – then, however, he departs from the story and is never seen again. It could be that Franco, at the very last minute, shoved him into the film as an afterthought. In future, the filmmaker was to make more prominent use of De Cabo’s distinctive appearance: Other Franco roles for De Cabo at the time include a barely recognizable appearance in the docudrama Virgin Report (1972) and the notary in Virgin among the Living Dead.

Director and actor met again on a more regular basis during the crossover from the seventies to the eighties, when Franco started casting De Cabo in either co-starring or distinctive supporting parts, initially as Lina Romay’s randy father in Las chicas de Copacabana (1978); later, as the confessor in the footage of El sádico de Notre Dame (1979) that is not taken from the 1974 Exorcism; and memorably as the “drunken, decadent marquis” in Aberraciones sexuales de una mujer casada (1980).

Except for Franco’s movies, Antonio de Cabo’s filmography is minimal: he acted in two non-Franco films from, respectively, Brazil and Portugal, both of these being countries where De Cabo travelled as part of his theatre career - directing Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap in Brazil and Godspell in Portugal, where he resided for long. Both of them, in fact, are also countries where he was captured by Franco’s camera.And Portugal, in fact, is also the country where Antonio de Cabo died in the mid-1980s.

X312 – Flight to Hell

Virgin Report

Drácula contra Frankenstein (next to Eduarda Pimenta)

Virgin among the Living Dead

Las chicas de Copacabana

Devil Hunter (1979)

El sádico de Notre Dame

Aberraciones sexuales de una mujer casada

El lago de las vírgenes (1981)

A link to Antonio de Cabo’s imdb entry:

Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen (Special thanks to Ricard Reguant)

19 November, 2011

Soledad Miranda: Estudio amueblado 2P

Thanks to Amy Brown for sending a link to this video of Soledad Miranda in a 1969 Spanish comedy.

09 November, 2011

Franco's Spanish voices: JULIO NÚÑEZ

On the 17th October 2008, heart failure put an end to both the life and the sonorously stylish voice of Julio Núñez Merino, who had been born in Torrelavega, Cantabria on the 30th June 1930. His last onscreen role had been in an Isabel Coixet film, A los que aman, made ten years earlier, but feature films were not common in the career of an actor mainly devoted to the stage and the sound studio, and mostly seen (as opposed to heard) on TV performances of plays. Starting out as a stage and radio performer in Santander, Cantabria, he later settled for a distinguished career in Madrid. His stage work included texts by Sophocles, Shakespeare and Calderón de la Barca, in addition to numerous contemporary Spanish plays. His long career as a voice actor started in the fifties, remaining uninterrupted until his death. Voice work includes several Anthony Quinn and Jack Palance roles, several of Omar Sharif’s recent appearances, Stanley Baker in The Guns of Navarone, Telly Savalas in Birdman of Alcatraz, Franco Citti in Pasolini’s Oedipus Rex, Martin Balsam in Catch-22, Albert Popwell in a couple of Dirty Harry movies, Ernest Borgnine in Hannie Coulder, Adofo Celi in the Peter Collinson version of And Then There Were None films, Christopher Lee in Richard Lester's Musketeers films, Vic Tayback in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Marlon Brando in the first Spanish dub of Apocalypse Now. He evcen dubbed his fellow dubber (and Cantabrian) Ricardo Palacios in Margheriti’s The Stranger and the Gunfighter. Another fellow dubber he did a voice-over for was Pepe Calvo in Aldo Florio's Euro-western Anda muchacho, spara! (1971). On TV, he was the Spanish voice of Claude Akins in The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, as well as taking over from an ailing Francisco Sánchez for the John Forsythe role in Dynasty. Another voice actor he took over from was regular Franco voice (and occasional onscreen presence) José Martínez Blanco; when Martínez Blanco left the Spanish vocal cast of The Love Boat, Núñez stepped in to dub the voice of Gavin MacLeod’s Captain Stubing. In TV redubs of old films, he was often the voice of Boris Karloff, including the monster’s sepulchral lines in The Bride of Frankenstein.

Also of note are the following vocal roles: Ivan Rassimov in Planet of the Vampires, Charles Bronson in Master of the World, Gian Maria Volontè in A Bullet for the General, Reggie Nalder in Mark of the Devil, Piero Lulli in José Luis Merino’s Comando al infierno, Umberto Raho in Cat o’ Nine Tails, William Berger in My Dear Killer, Harry Baird in Four of the Apocalypse and Michael Berryman in The Hills Have Eyes.

What follows is a list of those Jess Franco roles dubbed into Spanish by Julio Núñez that I’ve been able to trace. A total of three:

Howard Vernon in X312-Flight to Hell (1971)

Claude Boisson in El sádico de Notre Dame (1979)

Antonio de Cabo in Devil Hunter (1980)

Link to a partial list of Núñez’s films as a voice actor:

Link to sample of Julio Núñez’s voice, dubbing Claude Boisson in El sádico de Notre Dame:

Below, a scene from an onscreen performance of Julio Núñez’s, seemingly taken from a videotaped TV performance of a play. Núñez is the man with the pipe. The moustached man is José María Caffarel (seen in the Paul Naschy film Licántropo) and the woman is Lola Herrera (of Eloy de la Iglesia’s Cannibal Man). The seated actor is Estanis González, whose voice can be heard in the Spanish-language version of The Girl from Rio.

Below, a compilation of several TV roles and cartoon voice-overs of Núñez’s. Note the presence (in scenes from the 1989 TV series Juncal) of Paco Rabal and Manuel Zarzo. Núñez, incidentally, dubbed Rabal’s performance as Ben Barka in the Spanish-language version of Giuseppe Ferrara’s Faccia di spia (1975).

Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen

05 November, 2011

CINEMADROME - Public Forum Name - Recent viewings (or re-viewings)

CINEMADROME - Public Forum Name - Recent viewings (or re-viewings)THE DEATH RAY MIRROR OF DOCTOR MABUSE (1964): The last follow up to the series of films generated by the success of Fritz Lang's DIE TAUSEND AUGEN DER DR MABUSE (1960). A German-Italian-French coproduction (CF Jess Franco's LA VENGANZA DEL DR. MABUSE)...

23 October, 2011

Franco's lost opportunity: DOWNTOWN HEAT (CIUDAD BAJA) (1994)

Opinions among Jess Franco’s followers differ wildly when it comes to DOWNTOWN HEAT. Some place it among his worst films; others feel it’s his last “real” film before he became self-conscious; and for the rest, it’s hard to encounter any opinions at all, such is the obscurity surrounding it even within the narrow confines of Franco's fanbase.

What certainly makes it untypical for a start is its standalone status amidst the densely bunched minions of his filmography. One can easily group the man’s works into periods, as part of a “batch” made for a specific production company, but DOWNTOWN HEAT, made in 1990 but shown four years later, simply appears to lie unaccompanied right in the middle of a rare productive desert in Franco’s career. Moreover, although Fernando Vidal was still behind the proceedings, and Antonio Mayans was yet again performing production duties, Franco’s surroundings this time marked a radical change from what had long become the norm in his films.

In other words, the Madrid-based filmmaker, fond of shooting in Andalusia, Valencia and the Canary islands, had found himself back in Barcelona (or, more precisely, its surroundings) for the first time since the early seventies. The production team thus includes Iquino’s collaborator Antonio Liza and much of the cast is drawn from the Marta Flores acting agency –not only Víctor Israel and Craig Hill but also Jaime Mir Ferri as one of Hill’s unsavory partners and an uncredited Francisco Jarque as a bystander seen alongside Israel’s tramp character. Even the future star actor Sergi López turns up briefly in the opera house scene – as the tenor playing Cavaradossi in a performance of Tosca.

This new environment; the time he may have had to think things over since his last, comparatively distant film; plus a reasonable budget – all these factors may have stimulated Franco into reconsidering the character of his product. If the action scenes still seem rough (albeit more polished than usual in him at the time), the formal quality ostensibly suggests a greater patience at work. What is most striking, however, is that Franco managed to eschew the increasingly alienated and self-absorbed parallel world that had characterized practically his entire 80s output – an incestuous backdrop composed of references to other films and to his own work, with the same revamped plots and recurring character names. The action is still (perhaps wisely) set in an imaginary country (somewhere in Latin America); the Melissa name turns up again (and attached, in fact, to Lina Romay); but Franco here seems intent on presenting a world that is recognizably our own, even if he draws (more discreetly than on previous occasions) from a long film noir tradition. The overall approach could be termed one of stylized naturalism and, indeed, Franco does a very good job turning Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona into a metallic-looking noir setting with the harsh aesthetic beloved to the director from the early 80s onwards. I, for one, beg to differ with those who have compared Downtown Heat to a TV movie.

However, despite some good performances (mainly from Craig Hill and Philippe Lemaire), the results are uninvolving and poorly-paced. The story tells of a group of domestic cops, an American agent (Mike Connors) and a jazz musician who, on realizing that the country’s leading drug lord (Craig Hill) has become unassailable thanks to his connections, form a vigilante commando and set him a trap by kidnapping his daughter. At the end, once all has been resolved, the camera rests on the daughter, now weeping over her father’s death, as the credits roll. This innocent young woman, hitherto a marginal character or depicted as a tease, is given her due at the end, which would have had some poignancy if it had had a well-structured storyline to grow out of. SPOILERS END

As it is, the narrative moves in a meandering, unsteady manner. Franco might have gone in for a plotless film and one with an ensemble cast but instead, he bunglingly attempts a plot and a hierarchy of characters, as if he had not bothered to revise his script once finished. At first, it looks as if Ladoire’s cop will be the lead; then the musician takes over for a while (and is given a completely irrelevant romantic involvement with the Josephine Chaplin character); then it’s the commando as a whole. And it takes two thirds of the running time for the premise to become established.

Also detrimental to the film’s enjoyment is its English-language soundtrack. Barely seen theatrically in Spain, Downtown Heat aired inconspicuously on the same country's TV in a Spanish-dubbed version called La punta de las víboras; having not seen it, I can’t help thinking nevertheless that it is probably more coherent (in more ways than one) than its Anglophone counterpart even if the latter clearly represents the standard version. Several scenes, mainly indoors, were clearly recorded with direct sound, while others are post-synchronised. The results are variable: Victor Israel is inadequately dubbed by an American actor; Lina Romay, speaking in her own voice, is barely understandable; Óscar Ladoire (miscast for a start) plods through his English lines; and the delivery of a native English speaker (one Steve Parkman) is just plain boring.

Downtown Heat is certainly not a satisfying film, but it probably looked at the time as the possible harbinger of better work from Franco than had been the norm of late, as if the director, breaking the inertia, had decided to revitalize his product by looking all the way back to his past - not to the seventies or his spell with Harry Alan Towers but indeed to his initial black-and-white period. If with Downtown Heat he was pointing in the right direction, however unsuccessfully, it’s all the more depressing that what really lay in store was Killer Barbys and the spate of One-Shot productions, not to mention the controversial version of Welles's Don Quixote.

Text by Nzoog Wahlrfhehen

22 October, 2011



This rare Japanese VHS is the only video version I know of, on any format, which is anywhere near correctly framed at 2.35:1 OAR. The US IMAGE and SPANISH DIVISA DVDs are closer to 1.85:1 and cut off before the end of the end music. This also has richer color quality. 

20 October, 2011



A fine underrated actress who made memorable appearances in Jess Franco's GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961), RESIDENCIA PARA ESPIAS (1967), THE BLOODY JUDGE (1970) and, my favorite of her performances,  NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT (1970). She was also very good in the Paul Naschy vehicle THE BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (1973) and made an impression in any movie in which she appeared.  She always projected a dignified sensuality and inner fire in her roles.