Jess Franco has never really been one for tight plotting, which he proves yet again in 1973′s Female Vampire. Franco himself (under one of his many pen-names, Jess Franck) stars as Dr Roberts, a pathologist investigating a series of murders he, quite rightly, believes are being perpetrated by a vampire. Franco’s muse, Lina Romay in one of her first starring roles, plays Countess Irina Karlstein, a vampire who walks around naked and kills some people. Our leading man is Jack Taylor who plays — I dunno, a poet? He doesn’t really do much for the first hour of the film, except trim his moustache and wax philosophical in voice-over. He does have a handsome moustache, though. That’s really all the plot there is.
Posts Tagged ‘Jess Franco’
17 Aug 09
There are good directors, there are bad directors, and then there are directors like Jesús “Jess” Franco. I like Franco, but the man is a cipher: his œuvre consists of a great many bad films and a few gems; he seems often to be technically incompetent, but he was good enough to A.D. for Orson Welles; his films are often blatantly pornographic and shamelessly exploitative, but a very few of them are honest-to-god works of genius. You can watch ten of his movies, and nine of them will be awful. Then, just when you’re about to dismiss him as a hack, the tenth will be a weird, surreal, seemingly-accidental masterpiece. I honestly can’t decide if he’s just a hack who happened to make a few good films from some twisted law of probability or if he’s a good director who only occasionally cared enough, was given enough money, and free enough reins to put in some effort. My relationship with Franco’s work is a constant search for those aberrations in his œuvre.
14 Aug 09
Before hitting the big time, such as it was, in Day of the Woman (Zarchi, 1978), Camille Keaton spent several years in Italy making low-budget movies such as this one, which has the lovely, giallo-tinged original title Extracts from the secret archives of a European capital’s police force.
The plot concerns three ostensibly British gentlemen and a girl (at least, the script seems to think it’s set in Britain, given the references to the Scotland Yard): Bill (Tony Isbert), a rich boy with a mommy complex; Joe (Máximo Valverde) and Fred (Giovanni Petrucci), a couple of working-class guys who are seemingly just out to scam some money from Bill; and Jane (Camille Keaton). The relationships between our heroic quartet is never made clear, except that all the boys seem to be infatuated with young Jane. And really, who can blame them?
12 Aug 09
Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Strömberg) is a lawyer who has a recurring dream about a mysterious brunette (Soledad Miranda, credited as Susann Korda) whom she later, on a date with her boyfriend, Omar (Andrés Monales), sees dancing in a nightclub. The dance involves Miranda taking off her clothes and putting them on a mannequin, which brings the doll to life. “You are very excited,” says Omar to Linda. Linda denies it, but in a session with her therapist, Dr. Steiner (Paul Müller) — who doodles distractedly in his notebook, which quite subtly sets up a recurring theme of masculine disregard for women’s experiences — we learn otherwise; Linda confesses that her dreams of Miranda have more than once brought her to orgasm.
07 Jul 09
Directed by Jess Franco.
Written by Erwin C. Dietrich, Jesus Franco.
More exploitation sleaze from the master of the genre. Like all the other films in the series, there’s plenty of flesh on display and plenty of disgusting torture scenes. And like all Franco films, you get the feeling that there’s an interesting “normal” film somewhere underneath all the sleaze (Lina Romay’s character in particular is interesting, and could have been better developed), but it never reaches the surface. Recommended for fans of the genre; the uninitiated are better off staying away.
07 Jul 09
Downtown stars Jess Franco himself as Al Pereira, a down-trodden, debt-ridden private eye. One day a dame enters his office and, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, offers him a job he can’t refuse. The dame (Lina Romay) claims she’s the wife of a local mobster and wants Pereira to get photos of him (the mobster, not Franco) cheating on her. As you might already have guessed, things don’t go quite as planned, and Pereira gets entangled in the con Lina Romay’s character, Cynthia, has got going with her girlfriend, Lola (Martine Stedil). As you do.
Also known as Barbed Wire Dolls. (Jess Franco, 1975.)
Good grief, Franco’s made a lot of crap. This one stars his muse, Lina Romay, as Maria, who is falsely imprisoned for murdering her father, after which the standard Franco women-in-prison stuff ensues — lots of nudity, torture, and piss poor dialogue. I often say that a lot of Franco’s films feel like they were written by accountants on mescaline, and Barbed Wire Dolls is no exception. Unfortunately, outside the sadistic torture porn, it doesn’t really have much to offer. I like Franco better when he manages to channel his sexual obsessions, amphetamine-fuelled nihilism, and technical ineptitude (though the latter might be a put-on. The man did work with Orson Welles) into inspired, speedy surrealism like Vampyros Lesbos (1971). So, no recommendation for Barbed Wire Dolls, except for the Franco and/or women-in-prison completists.