28 July, 2014

Jess Franco's 1980s Hardcore Films

This 1986 hardcore sex comedy features Lina Romay and Antonio Mayans, credited as Lulu Lavenre and Tony Proculi [more on that beard later], as an outrageously flamboyant couple, she's a loud dresser, he's a screaming queen, who check into the no-tell Hotel Venus for some fun and games in which several other couples join. The character bits are amusing and provide some satirical comic relief from the many gynecological close ups of penetration, oral sex, female and male genitalia.

The Hotel Venus could be a wink at Wagner's VENUSBURG but most probably was a low rent, convenient, photogenic location which Jess roped into hosting the production, or maybe just shot it in secret, on the fly. Note how the facade of the hotel is used as a formal element and introduces the location of the action in the very first image, another example of the director's minimalist expertise.

Para las Nenas.... Leche Calentita translates, according to OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO to "Warm cream... for the babes" and the babes include Maria Del Carmen G. Alonso (Rossy Pussy), Romay and other familiar female and male Franco players, including Jean Morcillon = Jose Miguel Carcia Marfa; Peplo Tiesez = Jose Llamas, Pici Palo= R.A. Garcia.

Director: Candy Coster [Jess Franco & Lina Romay], Producer: Fernando Vidal Campos for FERVI Films Madrid. Screenplay: Jess Franco & Lina Romay. DP: Joan Almirall = Juan Cozar. Music: Daniel J. White. Edited by Jess Franco. Agfa color. 73m (the VHS dub I referenced cut out after about 60m in the middle of a hardcore scene!). Widescreen.

LAS CHUPONAS, TELEPORNO, BRAGUETA STORY, are other rarely seen JF hardcores from the same year. Franco also worked on several uncompleted projects that year, along with the still unreleased SIDA, LA PESTE DEL SIGLO XX, the latter co produced by Golden Films Internacional and Eurocine.

26 July, 2014

The Sinister Dr. Orloff (1982)

 This 1982 Golden Films Internacional Production is my personal favorite of Jess Franco's Dr. Orloff series.

24 July, 2014


I purchased this hardbox clamshell prerecord from MILLION DOLLAR VIDEO CORP. in Los Angeles in 1994.

This delirious, highly stylized 1982 remake of NIGHTMARE COME AT NIGHT remains one of my favorite Jess Franco films from his visually striking Golden Films Internacional period. Lina Romay plays the role of the victim of a criminal plot engineered by a phony nightclub hypnotist (Daniel Katz, dubbed by Franco regular Antonio Mayans). The female lead in the original was memorably played by Diana Lorys (GRITOS EN LA NOCHE, RESEDENICA PARA ESPIAS, THE BLOODY JUDGE). This version has a rather more upbeat ending and is done in a totally different visual style, emphasizing saturated tropical colors and Dutch camera angles, as illustrated in the caps. 
Drug party: Tilt Camera.

[From the Video Box copy on the back cover: "A beautiful who captivates the minds of men. A businessman whose wife in constantly complaining about how little time he dedicates to her. A professional photographer who will do anything for money. These are the elements for a movie in which sex and erotism {sic} are only surpassed by the tension and horror of a crime." I guess this kind of sums up the plot and characters. I'm not sure if the "beautiful" woman is meant to be Lina Romay or Carmen Carrion, the latter a villainous in the mystery story. The plot is basically the same of NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT, with the exception of the "happier" ending, which is boosted by the sudden appearance of Jess Franco himself, as the heroine's therapist, who shows up with a small army of heavily armed police.

Some of the music is recycled from Daniel White's trademark score for LA COMTESSE NOIRE (1973) aka FEMALE VAMPIRE. NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT may have stronger lead performances by Paul Muller and Ms. Loryr, and a more compelling score by the great Bruno Nicolai (which maybe my personal favorite of this scores for Jess Franco) but MIL SEXOS.... has an arrested visual style of its own which completely immerses the viewer into the disordered mind of Irina, who shares the name the is played by the same actress who portrayed the title character in LA COMTESSE NOIRE. This film illustrates that while Jess Franco may have a tendency to tell the same stories over and over, he manages each time time he repeats them to conduct fascinating variations in style, tone and atmosphere.

A good quality version can be found on Youtube, albeit in Spanish language only. When I interviewed Jess Franco about this film in 2004, he called it one of his "black" films ie Film Noir, and expressed surprise that I singled it out for praise. 

This title really needs a HD release with English language options. More caps, taken from the MILLION DOLLAR VIDEO Spanish language VHS, and comments will follow.

(C) 2014 Robert Monell

10 July, 2014

From Severin Films

New contest!!! We're thrilled to announce our partnership with Westgate Gallery, a new poster shop specializing in the horror and exploitation films we love. You can get 15% off 1-2 items and 20% off 3 or more by mentioning Severin when you order through them. You can follow them on here or on Twitter (@westgateposters), and they have a wide range of international posters to browse on their site (http://westgategallery.com/). To help us celebrate this weeks blu-ray release of BLOODY MOON, they're giving away the original Spanish poster for the film, sized 27 x 39. Share this post to be entered. The contest closes at 4PM tomorrow, so don't miss your chance to win this amazing piece of horror history!!!

08 July, 2014

BLOODY MOON Blu-ray is now available!

Today is the official street date for this new Blu-ray upgrade of this notorious Jess Franco gore epic and it's highly recommended. You can almost see the mountains on the moon which the director's compulsive zoom lens often closes in on.

Jess Franco's 1981 contribution to the slasher genre was a German financed production, lensed in Alicante, Spain. It looks better than ever on this new Blu-ray edition from Severin Films. A stunning BD presentation which reinvents Jess Franco's Spanish lensed slasher epic as a series of candy colored gore tableaux; the detail, definition, sharpness and color are just dazzling. The clarity of each and every image is razor sharp and the luminosity it a 100% improvement over the previous DVD presentation.

International Boarding School of Languages, Alicante: During a dance at the language school for young women the facially deformed Miguel (Alexander Waechter) steals a Mickey Mouse mask and stalks an attractive student, brutally stabbing her to death in bungalow #13 to stop her horrified screams when she discovers his grotesque features. Several years later Dr. Domingo Aunous (another cameo by Uncle Jess) releases Miguel from psychiatric confinement into the care of his sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganhoff), the lover of Alvaro, the language school's director who is trying to cover up his financial mismanagement. The couple are mistrusted by the elderly Countess, who controls the family fortune and intends to disinherit niece Manuela, leaving Miguel set to inherit the Countess' considerable estate.

But Miguel will become a key suspect when several of the new batch of female students are found murdered in cursed bungalow #13. Is this all a plot by Manuela and Alvaro to set up Miguel? You bet. In the meantime the frantic imagination of the recently arrived Angela (Olivia Pascal), looking more like a runway model than a student, becomes overstimulated as the killer begins to leave body parts in her room like ritual offerings.

The Jess Franco circular saw massacre....

The original German title card...

The 1080p full HD resolution presentation of this German LISA-RAPID-METRO Film Production emphasizes more than any previous release Jess Franco's ability to make a slick, seamless mainstream thriller very much in the style of  John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN and the thrillers of Brian De Palma, and both directors are directly quoted in Franco's crafty, often delirious mise-en-scene. The opening murder, presented through the eyes of the killer's "party" mask, in this case Mickey Mouse, is the most obvious example. The glossy, red, white and blue color design is more prominent than ever now, perhaps an indication that the director was going "the American way" while recalling the American flag color scheme of De Palma's 1981 BLOW OUT. Images from the notorious head severing by circular saw sequence can also be seen in Amoldovar's MATADOR.

Special features include the documentary interview Franco Moon (18m 51s), directed by David Gregory and the original theatrical trailer (1m 39s), the latter featuring some alternate English language dubbing. Franco obviously was displeased with many aspects of this project, on which he worked as a gun for hire on a script concocted by the producer, Erich Tomek.He also discusses his displeasure with the Gerhard Heinz disco-dancing score, remembering he wanted to use the music of Pink Floyd. It's a revealing interview in that it shows how he was able to operate both as a hack and a [frustrated] auteur. Notice the very last image, the clasped hands of the incestuous siblings, which the title Directed by Jess Franco is printed over. A final indication that the director's intended focus is on the twisted love story which lies underneath the generic slasher elements 

Miguel, on the other side of the mirror, a recurring image in the films of Jess Franco.

Overall this is an impressive upgrade for this uncharacteristic entry in the Jess Franco canon. This is a clean, luminous, crystal clear transfer from elements which do not evidence any noticeable wear and tear. A few seconds of blood spattered gore have been included from inferior elements, in snippets often missing from other video versions. This version is complete. BLOODY MOON was a video nasty and banned in the UK.

English MONO Audio [my only reservation is a wish that the German language track could have been included]

(C) Robert Monell 2104