30 January, 2015

10 Jess Franco films coming from FULL MOON

10 Jess Franco films, from the era when he was making films for producer Erwin C. Dietrich, will be released by Charles Band's FULL MOON company starting next month. Bonus material will be included. These were previously released by Ascot-Elite on Blu-ray.

At this point I wonder if DORIANA GRAY (1976), a stylish female vampire film starring Lina Romay, will be the hardcore version previously released by the Elite in German language but with a grating (for my ears)  English dubtrack produced when at the time of the first DVD. No English subtitles were available. I would be surprised to see FULL MOON release a hardcore film. Only one of the films listed below is noted to have English subtitles. 

 The FULL MOON collection will be on DVD. We'll have to see how this plays out but it seems like some good news for US fans who haven't been able to import the Ascot Blu rays. The films will also be available to stream on FULL MOON's site.
“I’m excited to be able to bring this awesome collection to the fans,” says Full Moon founder and equally storied genre film producer/director Charles Band.

“My WIZARD home video imprint was among the first in North America to distribute Franco’s films in the early 1980s and it makes perfect sense that Full Moon should be the ones to now release these beautiful new transfers of some of Jess’ most effective pictures to domestic DVD.”

Titles featured in Full Moon’s “The Jess Franco Collection” are as follows:






SLAVES (no English track, only English subtitles available)





Home to the entire Full Moon Features Library, www.fullmoonstreaming.com is one of the world’s first and finest interactive video experiences, and provides fans with unprecedented access to exclusive content: world premieres, resurrected film treasures, webisodes, behind-the-scenes footage,

26 January, 2015

SHINING SEX- Part 2 (1975)

The above Italian poster, suggesting a high spirited Euro sex comedy a la Edwige Fenech, couldn't be more misleading....

Credited to "Dan Simon" this no-budget science fiction sex number is one of Jess Franco's most imaginative and daring experiments in genre digression. SHINING SEX-LA FILLE AU SEXE BRILLANT was filmed back to back with MIDNIGHT PARTY, according to Monica Swinn~on EL FRANCONOMICON~in the same locations (mainly the geometric luxury hotel complex, LE GRANDE MOTTE,  in South France), with much the same cast and crew.

A Eurocine/Brux Inter Films-Brussels production. Lina Romay stars as a ditzy stripper in both films but there the similarity ends. MIDNIGHT PARTY registers as a termite Eurospy comedy, with the director himself as Radeck, Agent 008, a villain who practices the fine art of torture. SHINING SEX... is a grim, downward spiral into zombie seduction, mind control and death, all watched over by Jess Franco, playing a Hammeresque investigator, Dr. Seward.  As usual, performance and watching, that unique dynamic with which the director is so fascinated, takes center stage.

[ Above: Metaphysical transformation, Hollywood style, cf Jess Franco's SHINING SEX]

 Performance is always dangerous, exciting and a means into an altered state of being. Here it leads to an altered state of consciousness as giggly stripper Cinthia (Lina Romay) is introduced applying makeup, then onstage, performing "Shining Sex" a dance of her own creation which captures the attention of two mysterious customers in the club, Alpha (Evelyn Scott rn Evelyne Deher) and Andros (Ramon Ardid), the latter wearing sunglasses which seem to signal a lounge-Eurocime-spy lizard. The wall paper in the club has rectangular patterns and when Cinthia joins the couple in their room they enter that part of the hotel through a another semi rectangular opening.

The sprawling hotel structure is formed from cubicles, living spaces, forming large pyramids which hover over the area and bay. Thumping industrial sounds and sparkling impulses on the soundtrack make the sci fi undercurrent all the more palpable. It all exists on some subliminal plane, as do Alpha and co. beings from an alternate dimensions scoping out our world and on a mission to exterminate a psychic (Monica Swinn) and the biologist, Dr. Van Helsing (Olivier Mathot) who have become aware of their existence and the threat they pose.

The most daring segment of this film is the 5 minute plus, dialogue free journey taken by Cinthia and Van Helsing down a river in "Africa" as drums are heard beating on the soundtrack. Nothing happens, but we are treated to views (via stock footage) of various tropical animal life in and on the banks of the river as the two characters seem lost in thought as they remain separate on different parts of the vessel. It's a hypnotic sequence, taking the viewing into a twilight zone beyond time, space and narrative functionality. The are moments like this spread throughout, like the presence of the rose on the wall during the sex scene between Romay and Scott, but this sequence either shuts the audience down or invites the adventurous into a new kind of cinema adventure. Few will take the latter offer, since, after all "it's only a sex film." 

Andros, Alpha's slave, tells Cintha he was a normal human until his boat entered a mist, evoking the transforming fog of Jack Arnold's THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. But the stakes here are equally delirious, and deadly. Alpha will seduce and destroy the targets through a sexual transference of a poison inserts in her vagina via an unguent. Hence, as often in Jess Franco's ,Sex=Death. Cinthia informs the psychic that she is there to make love to her and to kill her, and that's what she does. Much like the love unto death interludes in LA COMTESSE NOIRE 1973 where Romay was a female vampire who loved and dispatched male and female partners after removing essential fluids, death through sexual dehydration. And both films conclude with Jess Franco witnessing the death of Lina Romay, something that sadly would occur in real life when the actress preceded the director, tragically passing away on  February 15, 2012at the age of 57. Jess Franco would die in 2013 at the age of 82, shortly after completing his last feature, the digital comedy AL PEREIRA VS THE ALLIGATOR LADIES.

Life, love, sex, death, that's what it's all about. In Jess Franco's universe performance becomes the invisible cement which seals them all together. And if it's on film, it becomes immortal.The loved one dies as the lover watches while the film is watched by an audience of human beings who will someday also die.

SHINING SEX exists in at least 3 versions, an 85 minute hardcore, a 95 minute cut which omits some hardcore footage and a 102 minute cut, on which this review is based. Longer versions are also rumored to exist in the vaults of Eurocine. 

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

22 January, 2015


Updated from the Robert Monell Archives
(C) Robert Monell 2015
Roland, the World's Sexiest Man



I once called this one of JF's "finest" De Nesle efforts but I've changed my mind as it doesn't hold up very well despite an admirable premise....

A wealthy ex-playboy, Roland (Fred Williams) tires of married life and decides to return to his old ways. He poses as a butler and becomes a servant to rich and beautiful women, but many complications ensue. His "wife" is the imposing Barbara Bolt (Brigitte Monnin) is a frisky career woman, the President of an International Organization of porno stores, whose demands cannot be met by the intimidated Count Roland. An interesting class-gender conflict ensues, allowing Roland to have numerous erotic encounters to satisfy his bruised ego, the paying porn cinema customer but not necessarily the average fan of Jess Franco's outre vision.

The title of this sly comedy of manners indicates Franco wanted to infuse this amusing trifle with a sense of irony. Roland may be handsome but as played by Williams behaves like a run-of-the-mill male model, albeit with a little more humor and liveliness than this usually dull actor musters in his other Franco roles from this period. He's especially inadequate as the hobbled super spy in THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA. Franco aims for the tone of a Howard Hawks screwball comedy, but verbal and visual puns, not physical comedy, are more his forté. And as the only available videos on the U.S. mail-order circuit are in French, those unfamiliar with that language will miss the satiric barbs at male chauvinism and upper-class arrogance.
As Roland's pudgy, mischievous manservant Malou, Richard de Conninck aka Bigotini, a familiar Franco actor who often worked as the director's assistant, just about steals the show from Williams. Most of the footage follows Roland as he is seduced by various women, and in an especially amusing scene, tries to avoid the advances of one husband who also happens to like men.

The cinematography is colorful, with occasionally interesting camera angles, but the lack of any action other than sexual may bore those who are not Franco enthusiasts. This 1974 sex farce is one of Franco's least screened Robert De Nesle features, although released on French VHS [Videobox] it is not available in anything near HD in any format. A sometimes subtle, somewhat tender look at social roles and the presence of invisible class barriers which cut people off from erotic expression. It almost makes one wonder what the result would have been played straight.... Actually, this is the kind of French bedroom farce at which Blake Edwards excelled.

Andre Benichou's swinging Jazz score is wonderful and the sun dappled, color intensive, cubist frames remind one of Cezanne with a touch of Impressionist color patterns. And no film with Pamela Stanford, Monica Swinn and Lina Romay (as Loulou Laverne) in the cast can be all bad. It remains, alas, rather tiresome at its full length. The version under review is reportedly cut from 120 m!

Don't hold your breath for a Blu ray restoration.... but you never know.

Robert Monell

10 January, 2015

Santiago Moncada

1972 Sergio Martino giallo on which Santiago Moncada is credited as a co screenwriter, his credit was most likely for quota purposes.
This 1984 Jess Franco neo-noir written by Santiago Moncaca, a remake of the 1975 thriller,  ACE OF HEARTS aka Juego sucio en Panamá, directed by Tulio Demicheli and also scripted by Moncada.

Santiago Moncada is a prolific Spanish writer, a novelist, playwright and screenwriter of such Jess Franco films as LA ESCLAVA BLANCA (1985),  LAS ÚLTIMAS DE FILIPINAS (1984) and the excellent JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA, the last is in dire need of a HD restoration in an English friendly version. It is a 1980s neo-noir set in a tropical city, featuring an outstanding performance by the late William Berger as an alcoholic writer trapped in plot hatched by corrupt colleagues.

Moncada also wrote the screenplays for such essential Spanish horror films as EL CAMPANA DEL INFIERNO (1973), THE CORRUPTION OF CHRIS MILLER (1972). He also wrote the violent Spanish western CUT THROATS NINE (1972),  the Spanish zombie films THE SWAMP OF THE RAVENS and VOODOO SANGRIENTO (1972). He also wrote the script for Mario Bava's psycho thriller A HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1969) and is credited on other Italian-Spanish thrillers (ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, THE SATANIC MECHANIC). He has written numerous plays since the 1960s and more recently had some success with some Spanish productions of some of his work..
(C) Robert Monell, 2012

 [BELOW: From Complete Index of World Film]


Film Information

Main Director JESUS FRANCO
Year 1984
Length 103 Minutes
Countries Spain
Genre Crime

Director Of Photography JUAN SOLER
Author Santiago Moncada

[Below: Es.wikipedia]
  • El stress

    Stress significa la tensión de la vida, el desgaste que produce la vida a cada instante, y tal vez por eso nadie puede respirar en el mundo sin experimentar cierto grado de stress en todo momento. Empleando una definición más científica, stress es el común denominador de todas las reacciones de adaptación del organismo. La vida de cada individuo puede considerarse en realidad como un proceso constante de adaptación a los acontecimientos de su existencia. Pero en ocasiones, tal adaptación resulta imposible física y mentalmente, lo que provoca en el sujeto una larga, silenciosa y enconada lucha interior. Una lucha sin esperanza que concluye con su derrumbamiento.
    Ésta es la historia de una de esas batallas, íntima y desgarradora, librada en el transcurso de una tarde de lluvia. Es la crónica de la última y absurda convulsión de una mujer casada antes de aceptar su derrota. Es el relato de la aventura de un hombre y de una mujer, de lo que siente, piensan y hablan durante unas horas mientras se conocen, se aman, se odian, se compadecen y se separan. Es un episodio anónimo, sin sentido ni justificación, que comienza y acaba bruscamente. Ella y él en una ciudad cualquiera, una tarde de otoño. Llueve. Ella y él, solitarios y desdichados, arrastran el peso de sus vidas.
  • Santiago Moncada

    Santiago Moncada Mercadal, escritor, dramaturgo y guionista, nació en Madrid en 1928.
    Ha escrito varias novelas, entre las que destacan Carta a nadie, galardonada con el Premio Elisenda de Montcada, y El stress,finalista del Premio Planeta 1966.
    Donde ha sido más prolífico es en su vertiente como autor teatral, con más de cincuenta obras en su haber: Violines y trompetas (1977), Entre mujeres (1988), retitulada como Brujas (2010), esta obra permaneció en cartel durante más de diez años, Cena para dos (1991), Esmokin (2001).
    Su creatividad también la ha puesto al servicio del mundo del cine, y es autor de unos setenta guiones para películas rodadas en varios países: Querido profesor (1966), La campana del infierno (1973), La corrupción de Chris Miller (1973), Cuando el cuerno suena (1974), Cazar un gato negro (1976), El hombre que supo amar (1976), Despido improcedente (1980), Gorilas a todo ritmo (1982), Descanse en piezas (1987), La familia… 30 años después (1999).
    Actualmente es presidente de la Fundación Autor y de la Sociedad General de Autores y Editores de España.

04 January, 2015

ILSA, THE MAD BUTCHER (1977) Golden Goya Collection Blu ray review by Wearethedead

Guest Review by Wearethedead
ISLA, THE MAD BUTCHER Blu-ray; Golden Goya Collection

The Blu-ray of GRETA, HAUS OHNE MANNER aka ILSA, THE WICKED WARDEN/ISLA, THE MAD BUTCHER seems to be an amazing example of the Golden Goya collection from Erwin C. Dietrich. So far I've upgraded this one and Frauengefängnis and have been very happyily impressed with the upgrades. Dyanne Thorne, Lina Romay and the always underrated Tania Busselier lead the cast in this sordid tale of women in prison, with one of Uncle Jess' most inventive plots in this kind of scenario. 

 This film really stands out as one of the first Jess Franco films I saw growing up as a teen on VHS. Lina's performance in particular is a real stand-out. The one of hers that made me take notice and want to know more about the actress. This doesn't always happen watching B-cinema, but in this case I'm glad it did. She plays the lead inmate as Juana, and also pet to Dyanne Thorne's warden in this psychiatric clinic. I still rate this among Lina's best films followed by CELESTINE, LES POSSEDEES DU DIABLE, PLAISIR A TROIS, SINFONIA EROTICA, GEMIDOS DE PLACER, MIL SEXO TIENE LA NOCHE and BOTAS NEGRA LATIGO DE CUERO. 

The film plays a bit more like entertainment than the earlier Frauengefängnis.Possibly from Dietrich's insistence for a more polished product. However, still containing the odd smaller characters like Peggy Markhoff 's "champion knitter" and still has all the touches of Jess Franco cinema even if the camera was by Ruedi Küttel, and not Jess himself. Initially, my introduction to GRETA came via two different versions on VHS, then later in 2000 Anchor Bay released a DVD version with great commentary by Dyanne and Howard Maurer. I was aware that Dietrich had released a DVD version on his own in 2003 imprint but I never got that one. My guess at the time was it would be close in quality to the Anchor Bay edition and instead I collected some other titles in those 2003 releases. Fast forward to 2014 and I'm seeing his Blu-ray release of GRETA. Firstly, the video quality seems first rate. Interior scenes that appeared shot indoors at night or with little ambient light are strikingly lit, almost artificially. 

The first view of this Blu-ray visually almost played like a new film as I had seen this countless times in the old version. Of course, it's the same film but it did take a bit to get used to this new quality presentation.This film could possibly raise an interesting debate over vastly improved video quality changing the aura and mood of the film. This new version again looks great but some of the contrasts of the old version I miss in some scenes but not in others. The Blu offers audio options in German, Italian, English and French with the added coup of English and Japanese subtitles. The addition of the English subtitles was another reason I wanted to reinvest in this title as to be fair, I thought my Anchor Bay edition looked well enough.For some reason, Dietrich's interest in providing subtitles has only passed on to a few of these reissues. Not sure why since for many this is a reason to upgrade. His previous releases already looked very good so it's uncertain what the angle was in leaving them off. Also included is some interview footage and some great photo stills in the extras as well,,,

(C) Wearethedead, 2014