20 February, 2015

Coming on April 14, 2015

Thanks to Nzoog.

These are highly anticipated and most welcome releases of two key Jess Franco film, finally uncut and in HD!

15 February, 2015

Lina Romay 1954-2012

(Posted on behalf of Robert Monell)

Lina Romay passed beyond the mist 3 years ago today. RIP.

12 February, 2015

Upcoming REDEMPTION Blu-ray releases

Here is what I was told by my source at REDEMPTION FILMS on plans for upcoming Blu-ray releases of  Jess Franco's THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (1962) and THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972), two of his best films which will make very welcome HD editions.Going into this, I was mainly interested in Blu-ray news on THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN--French title: Les Experiences Erotiques de Frankenstein (1972) but was pleasantly surprised to learn that work is just finishing up for a coming Blu-ray release of the atmospheric 1962 black and white thriller, La Sadique Baron Von Klaus.

Question: Do you have any information on an upcoming Blu-ray release of Jess Franco's THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN, or any other of his films, from Redemption?
Answer: Yes, after many delays, Redemption is releasing EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN... probably this Summer. We've received the raw HD master and it is being color-corrected now. It is the uncensored French cut (with an alternate English dub track). It does NOT contain the "clothed" footage, nor does it contain the inserts Franco later shot (with Lina Romay). And before FRANKENSTEIN, we're releasing SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (just finishing that one up now).
Before you ask -- It does not include the pre-credit sequence of the man in a white mask. We typically only get the French versions of his films, and not the modified Spanish cuts.
Question: Yes, the French version, that is the director's cut. I interviewed Jess in 2005 and he said that is his authorized version. He disliked the Spanish cut. These will be Bluray and DVD right?
Answer: Correct. No promo material yet. I would say "Summer 2015" for FRANKENSTEIN. BARON VON KLAUS is tentatively schedule for early June. 

[It should be stressed that these are projected release windows and street dates are always tentative and often delayed. But both are in hand by Redemption and being worked on as you are reading this. Let's hope it happens as planned.] 

{C} Robert Monell, 2015 [First published 2/12/15]

11 February, 2015


1983 80 MINUTES* Galan Video (Spain) European Trash Cinema (U.S. import) Written and Directed by Jess Franco; Cast: ROBERT FOSTER (Antonio Mayans), ANALIA IVARS, JESS FRANCO (Sam Chesterfield), CANDY COSTER (Lina Romay), TRINO TRIVES, MARY SAD (Maria de la Mar Sanchez), JOSE LLAMAS (Macho Jim), Augustin Garcia, Juana de la Morena.

*90 minutes according to OBSESSION, THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO. The VHS dupe I've seen only emphasizes how this film screams for a HD remastering.

Felipe Marlboro, gamely incarnated by Franco mainstay Antonio Mayans ("Robert Foster"), is a seedy private investigator who takes up a missing person case in punk infested Shit City. Hired by Maria Lucky (Maria de la Mar Sanchez) to locate the punk informer Macho Jim (Jose Llamas), he runs into big trouble almost immediately. All the men seem to hang out in a loud, teeming, smoky bar decorated with posters of Bogart (from CASABLANCA) and Mae West, waiting for trouble to erupt.

The residents of this corrupt town all look like they base their fashion sense and hairstyles on 1980s MTV videos. The men look like either Sid Vicious or a member of A Flock of Seagulls, and the women sport the slutty attire and pouting sexuality of Robert Palmer's female back-up vocalists in the music video of "Addicted to Love." Likewise, the visual style of the film is a whacked-out array of bright, primary colors, punk comic book tableaux, and weird camera angles.

The plot has Marlboro enlisting the aid of piano player Sam Chesterfield (played by Jess Franco himself) in an all-out effort to find his man and bust the town's drug and dirty money kingpin, Saul Winston (Trino Trives). Obviously, Jess Franco is based on Hoagy Carmichael's piano man in the 1943 Hollywood classic CASABLANCA, and Marlboro, a 1980s Bogart style PI, is telling him to "Play it Again, Sam" by pumping him for information. The fact that the main characters are all named after American cigarette brands say a lot about Jess Franco's love of smoking and American culture.

Forget SIN CITY and PULP FICTION, the visual style, costume design and tone of both are anticipated by this 1983 production, this unfolds in Shit City and is the original Pulp Fiction, a Jess Franco wonderment which manages to precede all of Tarantino, Rodriguez and co. by decades.A witty, obsessively self reflexive, visually striking neo-noir, a live action comic book which is one of Franco's personal favorites, and it's easy to see why. Almost every shot in the film is a loving homage to 1940s private eye cinema (such as THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP) filtered through a 1980s MTV-style lens and striving for a comics stylization of image, performance and atmosphere.

Franco has stated that he attempted to create a sustained comic-book look, and he has totally succeeded in that while creating his most entertaining film since his amusing 1967 spy spoof LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE. Unfortunately, you may have a difficult time seeing it in the way it deserves to be presented.

Antonio Mayans is the perfect fall guy in Franco's off balance world of pimps, whores, killers, and thugs. Felipe Marlboro seems like a close cousin of the director's perennially challenged P.I., Al Pereira. In her first role in a Jess Franco film, Analia Ivars, who has great legs and 1980s big hair, makes for a perfect lean, mean femme fatale. Franco stages all the standard private eye cliches in his usual off-kilter fashion. For instance, when Marlboro gets a beating for asking too many questions, the thug (Augustin Garcia) who kicks the living daylights out of him is a flashy flamenco dancer who performs his dance steps in between each punch and kick. Most amusing of all is the twisted ending, which finds Marlboro seduced by the woman who has set him up for extinction.

Franco adorns this personal favorite with a fast-paced editing style, glimmering shots of the Benidorm locations (which have a tacky glamor), often  shooting through diffusion lenses, and a rousing New Orleans style jazz score by Fernando G. Morcillo. LA BLUES DE LA CALLE POP... is a continual delight to see and hear, and one can sense its maker's joy in creating a noir comic book on film.

Franco's experimental deployment of colored filters and lighting is especially interesting (as in the visually similar ESCLAVA DEL CRIMEN-1986) and makes me wonder why he didn't continue in this style. Instead, his later 1980s films, such as DARK MISSION (1987), ESMERALDA BAY (1989) and DOWNTOWN HEAT (1990), were made using much more conventional  cinematography, musical and narrative techniques. Not bad films, just not the kind of prime, personal Jess Franco which LOS BLUES CALLE POP exemplifies so beautifully. You haven't seen the real Jess Franco until you've experienced it.

**It should also be noted that the film is narrated, in a mastered tone somewhere between mock authoritative and old fashioned cynical, by Ricardo Palacios, who first appeared in Jess Franco's world as the pugnacious tourist in CARTAS SUR TABLE (ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS-1966). He also played the bandit chief in the 1968 Harry Alan Towers production THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, memorable noir villains in JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA (1984) and CAMINO SOLITARIO (1993), among other Franco titles. A memorable character actor in films by Franco, Margheriti (CAR CRASH), Rossellini (SOCRATES) who appeared as various characters in Euro-westerns (THE BOUNTY KILLER-1966). He was also the director of the1987 Spanish Civil War comedy, BIBI LA BANDA, produced by Jess Franco, and Mi Cojeno es el Mejor, a 1982 erotic comedy featuring Lina Romay. It was reported that Palacios passed away on February 11, 2015, in Spain. Thanks to Nzoog.  Ricardo Palacios (1940-2015)

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

03 February, 2015

The Jess Franco XXX Collection

Welcome to the XXX world of Jess Franco, one of the many planets within his special massive parallel universe. Over the next few months, and beyond, we'll be taking some time to consider various aspects of his extensive hardcore portfolio, from the mid 1970s (SEXORCISMES) through the 1980s.

I'm hoping to see such elusive titles as FALO CREST (1987) and the ultra obscure Las Chuponas (1986), but already have seen several of his rarely screened mid 1980s hardcores such as EL OJETE DE LULU (1984), UNA RAJITA PARA DOS (1982) and Para las Nenas... Leche Calentita (1986), which I'll briefly comment on along with his best effort in this genre, EL MIRON Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA (1985), which was released as a Spanish "newstand" DVD as part of a magazine promotion. (*For Interviu, Thanks to Nzoog).

Most importantly, I plan to look at these as cinema works of Jess Franco, and how they place in his filmography in terms of themes, threads, images and personal humor...

[Above]: Rare screen cap of Jess Franco as the voyeur watching the hardcore performers in the scatological UNA RAJITA PARA DOS. Watching erotic performances is a continuing thread throughout his massive filmography, in these cases the performances are hardcore sex encounters, presented for the first time on Spanish screens (legally) in the early 1980s.

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

02 February, 2015

The Jess Franco Collection! - Full Moon Streaming fullmoonstreaming.com/Jess-Franco-Collection


The Jess Franco Collection! - Full Moon Streaming


First and foremost, I am pleased that these will be available to those who have not or cannot import the Ascot-Elite Golden Goya Jess Franco Blu-rays, but I also wished these were going to be BD releases instead of DVDs.

I note that JACK THE RIPPER will be available in February as the first release in this numbered set. DORIANA GRAY is #7 and some reports I've read are saying that both the hardcore and soft versions wilb be available. If it's going to be one release per month we may not see that until August. That, along with the highly stylized BLUE RITA [DAS FRAUENHAUS], are the two in which I am most interested. I don't have any of the Golden Goya Collection, although more guest reviews are planned here.

These appear to be HD clones of the Golden Goyas, perhaps down-converted by HD tape masters, but remastered by Ascot-Elite, from which Full Moon has obviously acquired the rights and elements. I would be surprised if Full Moon does any of their own remastering or English subtitling, although all deserve and need to have English subtitles available.

Will they be NTSC downconversions from Ascot Elite's HD master tapes? Will they be exact clones of the Blu-rays? These are more questions will doubtless be answered sooner than later.

 Thanks to Eric Cotenas.