28 August, 2020

DEAD MAN'S HAND (Rarely seen precredit sequence in the Spanish version of THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (1962)

Here is a video (please excuse the quality) of the rarely seen precredit sequence for LO MANO DE UN HOMBRE MUERTO (1962), the Spanish language version of THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS. A 2.35:1 scope film, the French version had been released on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, this Spanish version has not had a HD release. Also, the later sequence, featuring Hugo Blanco torturing and murdering Gogo Rojo, was censored in this version.

This sequence features a white masked killer in black, anticipating the sadistic "shape" in Mario Bava's Giallo foundation stone, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964).

23 August, 2020

BAHIA BLANCA (1984, Directed by Jess Franco) Severin Blu-ray.

BAHIA BLANCA (1984) Severin Blu-ray

BAHIA BLANCA, Jess Franco's rarely seen 1984 crime melodrama, screened today at the Filmoteca in Madrid, Spain as part of a tribute to the late Lina Romay. Hopefully, a future HQ DVD/Blu-ray presentation of this excellent film will appear.

The above was a hopeful note from several years ago for a future Blu-ray presentation of this outstanding 1984 Jess Franco crime film. That hope has now been answered by Severin Films Limited Edition HD release.

BAHIA BLANCA is a tragedy wrapped inside of a film noir set on a tropical Mediterranean island populated by a bar owner and her mute sister (Lina Romay) which is regularly visited by local fishermen thirsty for alcohol and sex.

This  film was financed by Franco's own Manacoa Production company and was not available on digital media until now. As of this writing the Bahia Blanca Blu-ray is sold out. For those of us lucky enough to have procured a copy, the film offers multiple rewards, being one of the director's more personal and well crafted products. The video quality is breathtaking, high resolution, glowing colors, and layers of atmospheric detail delight the eye. This is a very downbeat, sometimes lyrical tale, the kind of story that pulp fiction writers revel in and sailors tell when they return from the sea. It also should be noted that there is a port city named Bahia Blanca in Argentina, a country which is sometimes named as a magical locale in the alternate Franco-verse. Maybe this is another wink from the ever-deceptive auteur. 

Above: Shining Sex Blu-ray. Another highly recommended release from Severin Films. 

Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Analia Ivars and Eva Leon are all top-notch in their roles as the haunted participants in Franco's melodrama of crime, lust, murder and vengeance. Franco himself establishes an authorial presence by playing the role of a local psychic who predicts the the sad fates of the protagonists. The chilling image of revenge -minded maiden Analia Ivars clutching a rifle as she arrives on the island to act out her part as the story's exterminating angel is one of the most memorable images in Franco's extensive filmography. The eerily beautiful song by Isabel De Tejeda, the repetition of which takes on varying emotional inflections in different contexts, musically illustrates the nature of these deeply flawed lives overwhelmed by primal emotions and surprised by violent death in this revenger's tragedy.

Both SHINING SEX and BAHIA BLANCA have been finally saved from obscurity and unwatchable dupes by the due diligence of Severin Films.

Special Features: 
In the Land of Franco ,Part 4: a tour of Jess Franco locations guided by Stephen Thrower and Antonio Mayans

Bay Of Jess: Interview with Stephen Throwner on the film.

1080p Full HD resolution
Spanish Mono with new English subtitles.
Scanned in 4K from the original negative.
1984--98 minutes.

I'll be posting on the recent Severin HD presentation of SHINING SEX in the near future.

(C) Robert Monell, 2020

07 August, 2020



One of Franco's favorite characters, private investigator Al Pereira (Robert Foster, a.k.a Antonio Mayans), has an addiction and he's got it
bad. It's gotten him in trouble before, but this time it will be the end of him.

Al is frantically packing, trying to get away from trouble with women, money and all the people who are after him. Then Lina (Lina Romay) walks in. She's bleach blonde, wide eyed, and those long legs under her trench-coat just can't wait to wrap themselves around their next victim, who happens to be Al. It's pretty obvious that she's the kind of spider woman which Franco introduced in such 1960s films as MISS MUERTE(1965) and VAMPIRESAS 1930(1960). In this case, the black widow, the femme fatale.

She wants him to pick up some dirty money stashed in a wrecked car in the local junkyard, that's all. But Al doesn't bargain on having to kill two thugs, just so he could get back to his seedy apartment, where Lina waits with her legs spread wide. He doesn't bargain for the strip-club where she performs and her male friend, who likes to wear make-up and female clothing.

Then there's the phony, blind psychic and her friends, who like to strip and play S&M games with black boots and leather whips. When they make Al strip at the party and start beating him, he really loses it and begins shooting people. Unplanned violence is part of Al's professional and personal life. Now he's a murderer. A walking dead man.

Running from the police and the mob he drives to end of a bayou, where he makes love to Candy one last time. As the seagulls reel overhead, stirred up by Candy's horny cries, she pulls the pistol out of her trenchcoat pocket and pumps a slug into Al's side.

"Puta" is the only thing he can get out as he falls to his knees, pants still around his ankles. Death was coming to the party, and he is the guest of honor. Like Robert Mitchum in OUT OF THE PAST he plays the fall guy role right to the end. The burning, wet feeling in his side finally makes the lump of flesh between his legs go soft. He always called the nude playmate taped to his wall, "Mio Madre". But where was she? The bitch of it all was that Lina, who was long gone, hadn't gotten him, the mob hadn't gotten him, the cops hadn't gotten him. He got himself. Lina Romay is credited as "Candy Coster" but is named Lina in the film. Another level of irony.

BOTAS NEGRAS, LATIGO DE CUERO is the blackest panel of Franco's series of films about eternal fall guy Al Pereira. It's a
film noir rendered in the saturated oranges, lemons and aquas of the glittery, trashy Costa del Sol. As embodied by Mayans, in one of his most dead-on performances for Franco, Al is a frantic, at times charming and boyish, womanizer who has a deep seated problem with obsession and compulsion. It's even darker than Franco's 1972 Al Pereira adventure, LES EBRANLEES. In that film Howard Vernon played Al Pereira who also got involved with sleazy criminals and made poor decisions which destroyed him emotionally if not physically.

femme fatale represents lush, slutty sexuality with an icy edge which is barely perceptible to Al. This time around, Al might be a character out of Jim Thompson or a deluded protagonist from a Florida based crime thriller by John D. MacDonald.  It's obvious from the outset that his grim finale is inevitable for a man whose thinking capacity never rises above his waist.

Daniel White's urgent score is perfectly appropriate for this rush-toward-death cautionary tale. Franco and Juan Soler's vivid color scheme has never seemed quite as ironic and becomes a post-modern Costa del Sol equivalent of those liquid black nights and mean streets of the 1940's noir universe of Robert Siodmak, in particular THE KILLERS, a personal favorite of Franco.
Unfortunately there is still no digital representation of this film, which would benefit greatly from a HD restoration.
Robert Monell
  Unfortunately there is still no digital representation of this film, which would benefit greatly from a HD restoration.
Robert Monell