19 May, 2015

The Inner Sanctum Mysteries 3 Dead man's eye 1944 VOSTF

A key to understanding Jess Franco is that he doesn't want to be Orson Welles, he really wants to be Reginald Le Borg.

14 May, 2015

Lust for Frankenstein (1998)

*version under review is the 87-minute Spanish-language cut 

Solarised footage of incestuous sex scenes set to the dark Ubangis score, naked bisexual monsters prowling the bushes of Malaga, messages from the afterlife etched into the heavy metal vinyl records -
Lust for Frankenstein
is loaded with patented Franco strangeness. Aided by the joint talents of Lina Romay, Michelle Bauer and Analia Ivars, Jess crafts a highly peculiar mixture of DIY horror and kitsch melodrama.

Lina Romay stars as Moira Frankenstein, a recent divorcee whose dreams are haunted by visions of orgies and who inherits a sex-frenzied monster from her late father. Lust for Frankenstein isn't the first time Jess Franco concerned himself with a female Dr. Frankenstein. Already in Erotic Rites of Fr ankenstein, the good doctor (Dennis Price) was succeeded by his equally determined daughter. While a number of approximations and blatant inconsistencies stemming from obvious scarcity of recourses make this One Shot Production an easy target for criticism from 'quality cinema' point of view, it would be unfair to dismiss Lust for Frankenstein as an insignificant entry in Franco's filmography. A closer look reveals a consistently-directed and highly poetic work with Franco seemingly embracing and transcending his limited means.

Franco masterfully arranges and captures the space in a scene where a dreadlocked dr. Frankenstein appears behind a blood-streaked windowpane. During his digital period, Franco was more then ever interested in colours, Lust for Frankenstein being prime example  - glowing amber lights when Lina discovers the creature (Michelle Bauer) her father has created, cold blues during the transfusion scenes of Lina feeding the victims' life energy into her sex-starved monster. As Lust for Frankenstein was partially shot on actual film, we're treated to rich colour  hues, especially lovely in the cutaway exterior shots of the foliage Jess seemed so fond of interspersing his stories with.

The shorter Spanish-language cut appears less soporific with the slow-motion simulated copulation interludes mercifully truncated. This version also benefits from an additional voice-over (by Franco himself?) during the softcore flashbacks, narrated by the deceased dr. Frankenstein and giving some background to the sketchy characters. Lust for Frankenstein is one of the most accomplished works - both visually and aurally - from the filmmakers' least-appreciated creative period.

12 May, 2015

Cuadecuc, Vampir (1971)

Maria Rohm and Soledad Miranda appear ethereal and impossibly sophisticated in Pere Portabella's granulated black-and-white ciné-mirage. Portabella uses the occasion - filming of Jess Franco's Count Dracula - as a launch pad for his own journey towards the fantastic and the supernatural. Possessing at once some features of a documentary and a remarkably dreamlike quality, Cuadecuc is of much interest to Franco scholars and those with a taste for gothic imagery. While many sequences have amazing rhythm and impact, the film does drag as a whole at the relatively short 66 minute running time, partially due to very sparce score and almost total abscence of sound effects. Possible Godardian influence can be traced in the form of extraneous sounds (an aeroplane taking off, roadworks) layed over the images at deliberately inappropriate moments.

A Virgin Among the Living Dead

One of Franco's better-received efforts, A Virgin Among the Living Dead (Franco's intended title was Night of the Shooting Stars) can be described as an extremely low-budget cross between the Addams Family films and Alain Resnais' Last Year in Marienbad. Appropriately named Christina Von Blanc retains a rather blank expression during her many encounters with a family of mischievous spectres populating the baroque Monteserate castle. Franco's skilful use of wide angle lens and an occasional welcome dolly shot lends this somewhat plodding affair a unique visual identity. Nicolai's distinctive score helps liven up the bizarre proceedings another notch. Seeing Howard Vernon wearing a busy shirt while singing hymns (actually proverbs) in Latin during the strange liturgy episode is worth the price of admission alone. A Virgin Among the Living Dead is one of the few Franco projects not to be remade by the man himself in the following decades. Perhaps Jess was satisfied with the film? 

11 May, 2015

Happy Birthday Jess!

The legendary filmmaker (seen here in Pere Portabella's poetic Cuadecuc) would have been 85 years old today.We´ve decided to write a few words about his Midnight Party on this occasion:

Midnight Party aka Lady Porno

Sloppily shot in Cinemascope and semi-plotless, this Eurociné presentation opens with Lina Romay addressing the viewer (foreshadowing similar 'interactive' moments in Franco's final digital films Paula-Paula and Crypt of the Condemned) while writhing naked in a hotel bedroom bathed in crimson light.

Gorgeous Lina Romay is the film's main attraction, here allowed to shine in a comic part. Eurociné regulars Pierre Boisson, Olivier Mathot and Pierre Taylou are at hand, taking turns frolicking in bed with Lina Romay, all set to Daniel White's mild score. Midnight Party was later  chopped up (together with Shining Sex) and re-scored by Joe D'Amato to make the hard-to-see Justine de Sade film.

08 May, 2015

The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (Theatrical Trailer)

One of Jess Franco's most outlandish cocktails of Gothic atmosphere, classic movie monsters, nudity, cannibalism, sadism, outre camerawork, psychotronic music and psychiatric ward dialogue comes to Bluray from REDEMPTION this Summer! A personal favorite Jess Franco Creature Feature. More to follow...