Friday, February 17, 2017

FRANCO FEBRUARY! VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970) (Blu-ray Review)

VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970)
Special Limited 2-Disc Collector's Edition BD/DVD

Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 89 Minutes
Audio: German PCM 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Soledad Miranda, Paul Muller, Jess Franco, Dennis Price, Ewa Stromberg


Countess Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda, Count Dracula) is a vampire who performs nightly as a local nightclub where she catches the eye of a cute young American tourist named Linda (Ewa Strömberg, She Killed In Ecstasy), who becomes obsessed with the blood-sucking stripper, plagued by erotic dreams of her nightly. No longer able to resist the attraction Linda seeks out Countess Nadine on her island home, despite warnings from a hotelier named Memmet (played by director Jess Franco), a crazed weirdo whom Linda discovers has a penchant for torturing and murdering young women in his home, which turns out to be connected in a way to the Countess. 

Linda seeks out the Countess on her island home where she is told that the home on the island once belonged to none other than the notorious blood-sucker of legend Count Dracula and that the Countess is a direct descendant. Afterward the two enjoy a few glasses of wine, and as so often happens in the Franco films, the gorgeous women get naked and start fooling around with each other, with the Countess drinking blood from Linda's jugular. When the partially drained Linda awakens the next day she finds the Countess drowned in the swimming pool. Linda winds up at an asylum seeking treatment from Dr. Seward (Dennis Price, Nightmare Castle), apparently remembering nothing of the encounter with the Countess. The doc becomes suspicious when another patient turns up with visions of the Countess Nadine, but the film plays a bit with the reliability of Linda's encounter, leaving open the option that the supernatural enchantress may have been a figment of her damaged psyche. 


At this point the film sort of goes off the rails and becomes a blur of Eurocult convolution, we have the Countess's servant Morpho (José Martínez Blanco), Linda's boyfriend Omar (Andrés Monales) and the creepy Memmet (dir. Franco) entering the picture for a confusing finale that pits Doc Seward (Price) against the sensual vampire, not to stake her through the heart as you might expect, but to become one of the undead, or some such foolery. Cohesion is not the strongest point of this, or many, Franco entries, the story is a bit of a mess and only loosely held together with lurid imagery and some surreal atmosphere, which for a Franco film is par for the course, and this is one of the better ones. 

Thankfully we have Franco again teaming-up with cinematographer Manuel Merino (99 Women) who fills the frame with sultry and surreal imagery, plus the magnetic beauty of Soledad Miranda, truly a vampyric vision of blood-draining sexiness, she with the supernaturally soulful wide-eyes and just the right amount of 70s curviness, her cult-status in not difficult to comprehend, she was a stunner. So, we have some eye-candy and surreal imagery, but the frosting on top of this erotic slice of weirdness is the groovy lounge score from Manfred Hübler (She Killed in Ecstasyand Sigi Schwab. While it might not be a great slice of 70s cinema it's a fun Franco film with enough softcore delights so as not to disappoint the pervs, such as myself. Honestly I could see this being a hard watch for those not already steeped in Eurocult and the other works of Jess Franco, it's a bit slow and strangely paced in places, but for the Franco-philes this is prime stuff. 


Audio/Video: The film arrives on Blu-ray from Severin Films looking very nice, it is not as sharp as Severin's Blu-ray of She Killed In Ecstasy, but it looks pretty damn good. Overall there is a bit softness to the film but it is not not awful by any stretch of the imagination, just not on par with the aforementioned She Killed In Ecstasy. Sourced from a quality source the image is fairly free of defect and debris, there's some texture to the close-up and skin tones look natural and appealing. 

Audio chores are handled by a German LPCM 2.0 Mono with optional English subtitles, again the highlight is the psychedelic lounge score from Manfred Hübler and Sigi Schwab, a cool pastiche of loungey grooviness and fuzzed-out electric guitars. If you dig the score be sure to pick up the Blu-ray of She Killed In Ecstasy which includes a bonus CD with the score from this and that film, plus another, worth the price of purchase alone!

Extras are plentiful beginning with an interview with the now deceased auteur Jess Franco, sprawled out on the couch chain smoking while discussing the making of the film and his collaboration with producer Karl-Heinz Mannchen and his love for Soledad Miranda, and her tragic passing. They've also included the Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown also found on the She Killed in Ecstasy Blu-ray. The typically entertaining author Stephen Thrower offers an appreciation of the film and this particular era of Franco film making and his team-up with Miranda.Other extras include a German Trailer for the movie, Alternate German Opening Title Sequence – ‘Dracula’s Heiress’ and a short outtake from the Jess Franco interview. 

There's also a bonus disc which includes a Spanish version of the film that had had all of the nudity removed per censorship of the era, it also features an alternate and inferior soundtrack, but it makes for a fun curio, even if it is ported from an ugly  VHS source, sorry VHS collectors. The 2-disc set comes in a Criterion-style clear Blu-ray case housed in a dye-cut slipcase with new artwork by Wes Benscoter, it an attractive package. 

Special Features: 
- Newly remastered HD presentation of the feature in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
- Vampyros Jesus: Interview featurette with Director Jess Franco (21 min) 
- Sublime Soledad: Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown (11 min) 
- Stephen Thrower on Vampyros Lesbos: Interview with Author of ‘Murderous Passions –  The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’ (20 min) 
- Jess Is Yoda Clip (3 min) 
- Alternate German Opening Title Sequence – ‘Dracula’s Heiress’ (1 Min) 
- German Trailer (3 min) HD 
- Bonus DVD: Las Vampiras – Alternate Spanish Language VHS Version With Optional English Subtitles (75 min) 


Vampyros Lesbos (1970) might have failed to usurp the top spot on my Franco favorites, a spot held by She Killed In Ecstasy, but this is right up there with a few of my other favorites, along with How To seduce a Virgin. A fun slice of Eurocult with a nice blend of softcore vampire fun and the usual Franco-weirdness. Star Soledad Miranda is pretty stunning in HD, and while the role does little more than showcase her beauty and splash a little shocking-red blood around atop a somewhat confusing plot line, it's a Franco film, and you know damn well you didn't come for the script-writing anyway! Severin have put together a wonderful edition of the film, I would highly recommend a purchase of the of both She Killed In Ecstasy and Vampyros Lesbos mandatory buys for the Euro-cultists. 3.5/5 

FRANCO FEBRUARY! HOW TO SEDUCE A VIRGIN (1973) (DVD Review)

HOW TO SEDUCE A VIRGIN (1973)

Label: Mondo Macabro
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 87 Minutes 
Audio: French Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Full Frame (1.33:1) Original Aspect Ratio
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Robert Woods, Alice Arno, Lina Romay, Tania Busselier, Howard Vernon, Alfred Baillou 


When Jess Franco passed away not that long ago the Spanish purveyor of sleazy erotic cinema left behind a massive legacy with over 200 films to his name. Sure, not all of these were celluloid gold but Franco was a prolific auteur and 1973 was a particularly fine year for the director with over 12 films in production, many of which are considered some of the his finest works, and How to Seduce a Virgin (1973) is a pretty great watch. Filmed back to back with Countess Perverse (1973) it features the same principle cast, namely Alice Arno (Female Vampire) who stars as Countess Martine de Bressac who's just been released from an asylum where she spent a year after castrating of a former lover, ouch.

On returning to her gorgeous seaside villa the first order of business is a visit to the basement where she curates a museum of macabre cruelty, a place where women in various states of submission and torture have been frozen in time, it's a pretty bizarre collection. Next on the agenda is to procure a whore to add to her collection, she lures the prostitute into the macabre museum under the pretense of nude modelling but it ends with the Countess whipping the slut into submission. Martine is enjoying every salvo of pain she inflicts on the woman, completely turned on by the experience she quickly moves to the bedroom with her husband, Charles (Robert Woods, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff). Afterwards Charles brings to her attention a sweet young woman named Cecile (Tannia Busselier, Countess Perverse), the daughter of a wealthy neighbor, someone perfect for his wife's weird art collection. 

The Bressac's peep on Cecile through binoculars while the young vixen masturbate intensely through a bedroom window. It's like a dirty softcore version of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), can you imagine Jimmy Stewart jerkin' it while watching his naughty neighbors, now there's a mental image! Cecile puts on quite a show as the two peepers feverishly masturbate each other, they find her irresistible  and quickly hatch a plot to seduce, corrupt and murder the seemingly naive young woman. It's a very strange scene as the Bressacs grope and grind on each other while their super-cute, mute, sex-slave Adele (Lina Romay, The Hot Nights of Linda) latches onto their leg like a horny cat all the while caterwauling with obscene pleasure.

Jess Franco is definitely in his zone right here, we have sadism, voyeurism, cruelty, gorgeous scenery, awesome 70's fashions and lurid eroticism on screen in spades, it's a non-stop frenzy of sleaze, everything you would expect from Franco is right here, and best of all it's one of his better composed entries, a very attractive film with noteworthy lensing from cinematographer Gérard Brisseau (The Hot Nights of Linda). 


We have a small cast of Franco regulars, Woods and Arno are great as the corrupted couple out to seduce the younger Cecile who's turns out is not so virginal nor naive, she's quite a seductress herself. Aside from pressing the flesh with the Bressacs she even goes after the mute sex-kitten Adele, how could she not, Romay is irresistible and oozes sex in every film, mmm. The cast is rounded out by Alfred Baillou (Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay) as a creepy gardener and a chauffeur played by Howard Vernon (Delicatessen), all of whom are complicit in one way or the other to the Countess's depraved fantasies. 

So, we get a great cast, some attractive scenery and the sleaze is abundant with some extended masturbation sequences, sweet moments of lesbianism and an orgy of depravity that leads into a fun twist ending, plus we the added bonus of what's most likely the most erotic molestation of a mannequin ever put on celluloid, and for that we say thank you Jess Franco!

Audio/Video: Mondo Macabro give Jess Franco's How To Seduce a Virgin (1973) its first ever US release, presented in it's original full frame aspect ratio (1.33:1) the image appears quite nice in standard-def with strong colors and some decent clarity, film grains intact and the contrast is strong. I did notice some very minor telecine wobble and softness on occasion but otherwise we get a nice transfer from a gorgeous print of the film. Audio is French language Dolby Digital Mono and is very clean and well-balanced, dialogue and score sounds great,  there are optional English subtitles for us non-cultured lovers of sleaze. 



Mondo's disc has a few decent extras beginning with introduction by UK journalist/film critic Stephen Thrower, the feature touches on Franco's prolific year, with 12 films in production in 1973, many of them among his finest work. A second interview with writer Alain Petit (11:51) features the Franco collaborator speaking about the director's fondness for the works of the Marquis De Sade and the many films inspired by and/or adapted from his works, mentioning the unfinished Juliette de Sade film with Soledad Miranda and the later hardcore sex version filmed with Lina Romay which was recut by Joe D'Amato at the request of it's Italian producer, apparently turning a nightmarish film which featuring Romay shooting herself in the vagina, into a sex comedy of sorts. Petit also mentions his distaste for Franco's hardcore-sex films, and turning down a role in one of them. Extras are rounded out by text cast and crew profiles, production notes and a seven minute Mondo Macabro preview reel of their films, fun stuff, the Wilde Side of World Cinema indeed. 

Special Features: 
- Brand new transfer from film negative
- Interview with writer Alain Petit (12 min)
- Introduction by critic Stephen Thrower (21 min)
- Newly created optional subtitles
- About the Film 
- Cast and Crew Profiles
- Mondo Macabro previews (7:43) 

How To Seduce a Virgin (1973) is a wild-eyed orgy of lurid depravity and lesbian delights, one of Franco's best and most composed features. Euro-cult goddesses Lina Romay, Alice Arno and Tania Busselier are enthralling and Franco captures their charms from every angle, gotta love it. 4/5






We've been reviewing the film of Jess Franco all this month - it's FRANCO FEBRUARY!



Check out all the reviews so far, more to come till the end of the month!


MARQIOS DE SADE'S JUSTINE (1969)
http://mcbastardsmausoleum.blogspot.com/2017/02/marquis-de-sades-justine-1969-blu-ray.html

SHE KILLED IN ECSTACY (1970) http://mcbastardsmausoleum.blogspot.com/2017/02/she-killed-in-ecstasy-1970-blu-ray.html

THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF (1973) 
http://mcbastardsmausoleum.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-sinister-eyes-of-dr-orloff-1973-dvd.html

COUNTESS PERVERSE (1973) 
http://mcbastardsmausoleum.blogspot.com/2017/02/countess-perverse-1973-dvd-review.html

THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA (1975) 
http://mcbastardsmausoleum.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-hot-nights-of-linda-1975-blu-ray.html

JACK THE RIPPER (1976) 
http://mcbastardsmausoleum.blogspot.com/2017/02/jack-ripper-1976-dvd-review.html

PAULA-PAULA (2010) 
http://mcbastardsmausoleum.blogspot.com/2017/02/paula-paula-2010-dvd-review.html


Official Trailer for IFC Midnight's THE DEVIL'S CANDY

Synopsis: A not-so-average family wrestles with Satan in a house from hell in this heavy metal-charged shocker from the director of The Loved Ones. Diehard metalhead and struggling artist Jesse (Ethan Embry) moves with his wife (Shiri Appleby) and daughter (Kiara Glasco) to a middle-of-nowhere Texas town, unaware that the new house they got for an unbelievable deal comes with a grisly history. Disturbing demonic goings-on culminate with the appearance of Ray (The Walking Dead’s Pruitt Taylor Vince). He’s the home’s former resident, and he’s here to do the Devil’s bidding. The cranked-to-eleven soundtrack blasts Metallica, Slayer, Pantera, and a thunderous original score by doom rock legends Sunn O))).


Two Of The Most Insane ‘90s SOV Shockers Come To DVD For The First Time Ever!

DREAM STALKER / DEATH BY LOVE 

Intervision Picture Corporation has returned to the mom ‘n’ pop video shop to retrieve two underseen shriek fests from the bottom row of the “Horror” section. DREAM STALKER and DEATH BY LOVE are both brain-busting, reality -decimating slices of artsploitation from the outer edges of the shot-on-video universe. On April 11th, scorch your mind with a double feature disc of these lost gems, newly transferred from the original video masters.

DREAM STALKER:

“It fits right in with THINGS and SLEDGEHAMMER,” raves Outpost-Zeta.com. “DREAM STALKER is something special!” When a Sacramento supermodel is haunted by the super-mulleted corpse of her dead motocross-racer boyfriend, it will unleash an erratically ambitious nightmare of cheap lighting, bad sound, bizarre plotting, gratuitous nudity and grisly effects that Bleeding Skull says is “guaranteed to make you feel like you’re trapped in a lo-fi psychedelic abyss of fun!” 

DEATH BY LOVE:

In this inexplicably obscure psycho-thriller, a studly sculptor (producer/director/writer/star and Texas building contractor Alan Grant) fears that a devil-worshipping childhood pal is murdering his every new girlfriend. Filmed in the suburbs of Dallas and packed with soft-core sex, scattershot performances, thick regional accents and a WTF? plot twist, it may be the most astounding SOV horror vanity project you’ve never seen.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

- Remembering Ricky: With Actor
- Dirtbike Dreams: Executive Producer Tom Naygrow
- Alan Grant Remembers Death By Love Via Video Skype
- Yvonne Aric and Brad Bishop Remember Death By Love Via Video Skype








The Notorious CATHY'S CURSE (1977) makes Blu-ray debut from Severin Films!

CATHY'S CURSE (1977) 

The Infamous ‘Canuxploitation’ Classic

Now Fully Restored For The First Time Ever! 

On April 11th, Severin Films will possess the souls of genre fans with the first ever fully restored presentation of Canadian nightmare generator CATHY’S CURSE. Fans can now experience one of the strangest EXORCIST/OMEN/CARRIE-inspired grindhouse hits like never before, transferred in 2k from recently-found film elements and featuring revealing new Extras with long-lost star Randi Allen and producer/director/co-writer Eddy Matalon.

Forget what you’ve seen in blurry bootlegs and crappy budget packs. This first- ever restoration of the depraved Canadian shocker is being hailed as the genre rediscovery of the year: In 1947, a young girl is roasted alive in a car accident. Thirty years later, her grown brother returns to their childhood home with his mentally unstable wife and sweet daughter Cathy. But when the dead aunt’s vengeful spirit possesses the child, it will unleash an unnerving nightmare of creepy mediums, demonic dolls, and plenty of sick ‘70s foul-mouthed moppet mayhem.



SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Director’s Cut
- Alternate U.S. Release Cut
- Tricks And Treats: An Interview with Director Eddy Matalon
- Cathy And Mum: Interview with Actress Randi Allen and Costume Designer Joyce Allen
- Audio Commentary on U.S. Cut by BirthMoviesDeath critic Brian Collins and Filmmaker Simon Barrett
- Introduction to Cinematic Void Screening At American Cinematheque by BirthMoviesDeath Critic Brian Collins
- Theatrical Trailer






Tuesday, February 14, 2017

FRANCO FEBRUARY! MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE (1969) (Blu-ray Review)



MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE (1969) 
3-Disc Limited Edition BD/DVD/CD

Label: Blue Underground 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 124 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD Mono 2.0, Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 with optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Romina Power, Maria Rohm, Klaus Kinski, Akim Tamiroff, Howard Vernon, Rosalba Neri, Jack Palance



Synopsis: Romina Power (18-year-old daughter of Tyrone Power) stars as Justine, a nubile young virgin cast out of a French orphanage and thrust into a depraved world of prostitution, predatory lesbians, a fugitive murderess (Mercedes McCambridge), bondage, branding, and one supremely sadistic monk (an outrageous performance by Jack Palance). It's a twisted tale of strange desires, perverse pleasures and the ultimate corruption of innocence as told by the Marquis de Sade. JUSTINE is one of the most lavish and bizarre erotic shockers ever made by the notorious Jess Franco (SUCCUBUS), bursting with wanton nudity, sexual perversion, and an all-star cast that also includes Akim Tamiroff (TOUCH OF EVIL), Maria Rohm (EUGENIE) and Klaus Kinski (NOSFERATU) as the Marquis de Sade. Also known as JUSTINE AND JULIET and the heavily-cut DEADLY SANCTUARY, this infamous film is presented completely restored and uncensored in a gorgeous new 4K transfer from the original camera negative!

More Jess Franco in HD will always be a good thing for us lovers of Eurocult and '70s cinema sleaze, praise be to cult movie distributor Blue Underground for bringing one of Franco's most lavish '70s productions to Blu-ray for the first time in North America! The first of Franco's partnership with producer Harry Alan Towers spawned an adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's story of Justine, wherein sisters Justine (Romina Power) and Juliette (Maria Rohm, Venus in Furs) are orphaned after the death of their father. With no money to pay for their education the young women are booted from the convent and sent out into the streets with only a small amount of gold to see them through. The more lascivious sister Juliette takes refuge as a whore at Madame de Buission's brothel where she becomes the lesbian lover of whore Claudine (Rosemary Dexter, Eye in the Labyrinth). The younger and more virginal sister Justine chooses not to live the life of a whore and puts her faith in a priest she meets n the streets, only to be cheated of her gold by the frocked bastard, and so begins her descent into a series of unfortunate depravity and corruption. 


Justine finds shelter as a maid working for an innkeeper named Monsieur du Harpin, but when she refuses his direct orders she is framed for the theft of an amulet and sent to prison as a thief. In prison she encounters an aged murderess named Monsieur Derroches (Mercedes McCambridge, 99 Women) who enlists the young woman's aid to free themselves from the prison prison, which she does, the daring escape involves a fire which burns to the prison ground, killing both guards and prisoners. Once freed Justine is betrayed by Derroches who offers the nubile woman to her lecherous henchman as a reward for their service, she only narrowly escapes the rape when the men begin to fight among themselves, quarrelling over whom should have the honor of deflowering the young woman first.As viewers we are privy to the parallel adventures of her sister Juliette (Rohm), who along with her lover Claudine have murdered Madame de Buission and made off with her gold, but Juliette turns on her lover in a moment of greed, drowning her for her share of the gold. Meanwhile Justine finds herself a servant to the Marquis de Bressac who asks for her help in poisoning his wife, when she refuses the Marquis proceeds to frame her for murder of hs wife, branding Justine with the mark of a murderess on her breast. Afterward the suffering Justine end up at a monastery where she feels she may have finally found salvation, only to realize she's ended up amidst a cult of sex-crazed Monks lead by deviant Father Antonin, actor Jack Palance (The Shape of things to Come)in one of his most crazed performances, and that's no small feat my friends, drunk and slurring his words, chewing-up the scenery like you won't believe. Spotted amongst the cult members are Franco regular Howard Vernon (She Killed In Ecstacy), whom torture the poor young woman, before she escapes their clutches and into the awful hands of fate who continue to deliver blow after blow to the virtuous young woman.In true Sade form those with vice profit from their deviancy while the virginal Justine only finds cruelty and betrayal at every turn, each vignette of her story further worsening her situation as she slips from one corruption to the next. Unfortunately actress Romina Power is a bit too doe-eyed and non-expressive in the role of the tortured Justine, she's truly not as awful as Franco recounts in the Blu-ray supplements, but she is not on par with Rohm, or the revered Soledad Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos) either, though she does exude a certain naive innocence. At times she looks like she might me a be strung-out or otherwise emotionally disengaged. Madman Klaus Kinski (Jack the Ripper) appears in a weird and unnecessary framing device as the imprisoned Marquis de Sade, the white-wigged author who seems to be penning the story of Justine as he paces around his cell looking bored and more than a bit little frustrated. At over 120-minutes long I think the movie is a bit of padded with fluff that could have been excised, but it's always nice to see Kinski in a Eurocult-classic, the guy's face is worth a thousand lunatic word and he exudes madness, even in a wordless role. 

As mentioned previously we have Jack Palance as Father Antonin, on the extras Franco says the actor would start drinking red wine at 7 a.m. and not let up from there, and it shows in his performance, he is unhinged and completely unrestrained. Maria Rohm (Franco's Venus in Furs) doesn't get a lot of screen time but she's solid, I can see why Franco used her more prominently in Eugenie just a few months later, she has a classic old Hollywood beauty about her, but is also sexy and charming.This is a lavish production from Franco and producer Harry Alan Towers with wonderful period costuming and some great locations, with some great lensing from cinematographer Manuel Merino who lensed a few of Franco's finest, notably Vampyros Lesbos. There's also a great symphonic score from Ennio Morricone acolyte Bruno Nicolai (All the Colors of the Darkthat complements the movie with a wonderfully dramatic score with sweeping orchestral compositions. This might mark the beginning of a familiar Sade theme among the movies of Jess Franco, tales of the elite and powerful of society corrupting the innocent and the naive, themes we've seen in How To Seduce a Virgin (1973) and the even more erotic (and x-rated) The Hot Night of Linda (1975), but it was the movies with producer Harry Alan Towers that were the most lavish and beautifully shot. If you're only familiar with Franco's more cash-strapped productions this might be an eye-opener for you, he was a a capable craftsman when give the proper resources and this is proof of that. 

Audio/Video:Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969) arrives on Blu-ray with from Blue Underground a brand new 4K transfer from the original camera negative and the results are outstanding. Grain is nicely managed, colors are vibrant, and there's some wonderful clarity and openness to the image with loads of fine detail accenting the period costuming and the tender flesh, this is a fest for prying eyes. Onto the audio we have a solid English DTS-HD Mono 1.0 track that has a nice fidelity about it, balancing the dubbed-dialogue and the symphonic Bruno Nicolai score very nicely, optional English SDH subtitles are provided.



Blue Underground offer a few informative bonus features, beginning with carrying over the The Perils And Pleasures Of Justine featurette, with interviews with Co-Writer/Director Jess Franco and Producer Harry Alan Towers, Franco goes into the tone of the screenplay, the shooting locations, how this was an expensive production for him at the time and touching on the various cast, including the notoriously drunk Jack Palance, his unhappiness with the casting of Romina Power and her performance, and how he found it rather easy to work with Klaus Kinski, who is famously portrayed as one of the most tyrannical actors of cinema by directors such as Werner Herzog (Aguirre, the Wrath of God) and David Schmoeller (Crawlspace). Franco also speaks about the censorship the movie faced and the various cuts of the film.

There's a new 18-minute interview with author Stephen Thrower on Justine who speaks about the movie and the differences in the source materials and what ended up onscreen, and for someone like myself who is not well-versed in the literary works of Sade I found it very interesting. He also puts the movie into context among Franco's other movies, this being one of his largest budgeted productions at the times, also speaking about the cast of the movie, though he doesn't savage Power's performance quite a much as Franco himself.
Additionally on the disc we have a gallery of 70-images featuring various production stills, international poster artwork, and the video releases. There's also a French language trailer for the movie. separate from the disc we have a 20-page booklet with writing on the film from Thrower adapted from his book "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco", featuring promotional images and poster art, a CD track listing, and production credits for the movie.  Additionally there's a DVD featuring the movie with the same extras, plus a CD of the Bruno Nicolai score, and a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring the original 2004 Blue Underground DVD artwork and an alternate option.

Special Features: 
- The Perils And Pleasures Of Justine - Interviews with Co-Writer/Director Jess Franco and Producer Harry Alan Towers (20 Mins)
- Stephen Thrower on JUSTINE - Interview with the author of "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco" (18 Mins) HD
- French Trailer (4 Mins) HD
- Poster and Still Gallery (70 Images) HD
- 20-Page Collectible Booklet includes writing by author Stephen Thrower
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Bruno Nicolai (27 Tracks, 58 Mins) licensed from Beat Records

Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969) gets a top-notch release from Blue Underground with a fantastic 4K transfer from the original camera negatives, the A/V presentation is one of the best I've seen this year, with some great extras and the added bonus of a Bruno Nicolai score on CD. Franco-philes and Eurocult lovers are in for a real treat, this may not be my favorite Jess Franco movie but this is one of the best Franco releases on Blu-ray to date, on par with Severin's superb Blu-rays of She Killed in Ecstasy and Vampyros Lesbos, it's has been a banner year for Jess Franco in HD.3/5

Monday, February 13, 2017

FRANCO FEBRUARY! PAULA-PAULA (2010) (DVD Review)

PAULA-PAULA (2010)

Label: Intervision Picture Corp

Region Code: Region Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 Minutes 
Audio: Spanish Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Paula Davis, Carmen Montes, Lina Romay


Synopsis: Alma Pereira is a female police officer investigating the murder of an exotic dancer at a sleazy club in Malaga, Spain. Called to the Flamingo Club in a back alley of Antofagasta she confronts the prime suspect, Paula, a friend of the victim. After a brief Q+A the balance of the film shows what happened in the interval leading up to the killing, which turns out to be a crime of passion. Or is it all in the mind of Paula?

So what's Franco got for us this time? Well, first off you should realize this is not a usual narrative film with a linear narrative. It's being touted as an "An AudioVisual Experience" which it is - then again, isn't every film since the first talkie an audio-visual experience? I found the story hard to follow, but from what I've been able to glean from some close scrutiny and internet scouring we have Paula (Carmen Montes, Snakewoman) in the main role, Paula. She  is an erotic dancer who has been arrested for the murder of another dancer, also named Paula (Paula Davis). Paula only shares the same name but is not an visual twin/doppelganger ala The Double Life of Veronique (1991). Once taken-in for questioning she in interviewed by Alma Pereira (Lina Romay, Female Vampire). However, she's not forthcoming with the answers during the interview, she seems a few tacos short of a combination plate, you know? From there we see fragments of what may have transpired leading up to the point of the murder as seen through Paula's mind's eye. Maybe. This shit was confusing. What it basically boils down to is a fairly trippy and artsy striptease followed by  20 minute lesbian sex scene culminating in a baffling and anti-climactic murder with a loose-narrative prologue. Aside from the lurid appeal of a tasty striptease and some girl-on-girl action this was a bit of a slog for me, to be honest. 


Franco makes the assertion that the inspiration for Paula-Paula came from Robert Louis Stevenson's story Jekyll/Hyde. There's some tiny hint of such a things with some odd mirror and digital effects works but that's really stretching it. If I hadn't of read it in the press kit I don't think I would have made this connection. One thing I can say about this film is that the jazz score provided by the late Austrian composer Friedrich Gulda (who scored Franco's Succubus/Necronomicon) is fantastic. The films serves as merely an erotic visual backdrop to the very cool score. It should be noted that the music was not scored specifically for the film and was gifted to Franco by the children of Gulda after the composer's death - perhaps the films is a tribute to the composer's score. Now that's interesting. 

Audio/Video: Paula-Paula (2010) arrives on DVD from Intervision Picture Corp framed in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) with a Spanish Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack with optional English subtitles. The transfer seems to accurately represent the digital video cinematography and is augmented by some artsy digital effects wizardry. The Spanish dialogue seems a bit buried in the mix throughout but the amazing jazz score from Friedrich Gulda (Succubus/Necronomicon)sounds mighty fine indeed. 


Special features on the disc include an introduction and two interviews with Franco. The introduction to the film was recorded mere moments after the initial filming of Paula-Paula and Franco seems quite excited about the project. The other interviews have Franco discussing the state of filmmaking, the music and cast of Paula-Paula all of which I found more intriguing than the film. 

Special Features: 

- Introduction by Jess Franco (1 min)
- Jess Franco on Contemporary Filmmaking (18 min)
- Jess Franco on Paula-Paula (9 min)

Paula-Paula (2010) works better as an odd extended music video or video art piece than an narrative film in my opinion, not a recommend unless you're a true Jess Franco completest. During the interviews Franco suggests this may be one of 2 or 3 of his weirdest films. Agreed, but sadly not in a good way, if this happens to be your first Franco watch it would probably leave you cold, but trust me, dive deeper, there's some true Eurocult gems from Franco waiting for you to discover them. 1.5/5