Favourite Five Series: JESS FRANCO (Part One)

Posted in Favourite Five Series, Film, jess franco, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2017 by goregirl

IMG_5092

I have seen Seventy Jess Franco films. I have never seen seventy films from one director. It is possible I may never see seventy films from another director other than Jess Franco. Mr. Franco made a shitload of films. IMDB lists 203 films under director but according to Wikipedia Franco made “about 160”.  I do know that at this point in my viewing it has become difficult to find titles I have not seen. I was thrilled to add Mondo Macabro’s recent Blu-ray of Night has a Thousand Desires to my collection; it marked my seventieth Franco flick. Severin will be releasing Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties (1980) August 29th; which I seen, but it was a very sketchy copy. And apparently if you order through the Severin store you will get yourself a pair of flowered panties and/or other related goodies with your film. I had to watch some pretty grungy versions of the Maestro’s resume to get those seventy stroked off my list. A few VHS rips on YouTube and XHamster were bordering on unwatchable. Some were rented from Zip before they ended the service, Bluemoon Streaming and Fandor. And some were purchased; I plan on adding as many Franco DVD and Blu-rays to my library as possible. When you watch multiple films from any one director you will notice similarities in style, technique, cast, music etc. Franco knew how to get bang for his buck and would often make more than one film on a set, using the same actors, actresses and costumes. Several actors and actresses made multiple appearances in Franco films. You could almost break down the films based on that. That is a post itself! I will be focusing on at least a few of the Franco regulars in my Goddesses of Underground Cinema posts. Franco has made films of every possible genre; horror, spy, comedy, action, documentary, etc and one thing they all have in common is sex and nudity in varying degrees. Even his early films like The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962) were controversial for their time. Franco loved a bush shot. Long, lingering shots of bush are plentiful in his post 60s stuff. Sometimes there is nothing else going on in the shot, it is just bush. Seems to me there are more long lingering shots of bush than there is tits and/or ass. A bush zoom was used to segue way into the next scene in a few films. Quite often that bush belonged to Lina Romay. Film’s greatest love story! Franco made over a hundred films with Romay and the two were together until her death in 2012. Franco himself passed away just a little over a year later in 2013.

tumblr_ohjf9856hh1skwl5to5_r1_1280

tumblr_ohjf9856hh1skwl5to2_1280

tumblr_ohjf9856hh1skwl5to3_1280

tumblr_ohjf9856hh1skwl5to4_1280

There were periods where Franco’s work felt a bit redundant, but when you’ve made “about 160” films you are bound to repeat yourself to some extent. I have enjoyed the hell out of a good chunk of Jess Franco’s filmography and consider him a favorite director. As long as folks like Mondo Macabro and Severin keep unearthing lost Franco films I will continue to buy and enjoy them. I love you Jess xo

I shortlisted twenty-two Franco films for THREE lists of Favorite Five Films; Here is Part One in no particular order…

SINNER/DIARY OF A NYMPHOMANIAC (1973)

Starring: Montserrat Prous, Anne Libert, Kali Hansa, Jacqueline Laurent, Howard Vernon, Manuel Pereiro, Francisco Acosta

Jess Franco made a lot of films with female revenge plots. Strong, resourceful, sexy women unapologetic about who they are and what they do. Linda Vargas is the film’s Sinner. The opening scene in a club ends with Linda calling the police, slashing her own throat and falling on top of a man. The balance of the film explains why. The lovely Montserrat Prous who plays Linda was in seven Franco films but this one, bar none was the jewel in her crown. She is picture perfect; I felt so sorry for Linda! I had more empathy for Linda then I have ever had for any character in a Franco film. Every guy she meets is a piece of shit. The cast of regulars have never been better, especially Kali Hansa who plays Maria, Linda’s best friend and lover. Although I noted the films are not in any particular order, there is no doubt about it, Sinner is definitely my number one Franco flick.

tumblr_n10wyycKCL1skwl5to2_1280Linda Kills herself at the beginning of the film and frames degenerate Mr. Ortiz (Manuel Pereiro) for her murder.

tumblr_n10wyycKCL1skwl5to5_1280Linda (Montserrat Prous) with her friend and lover Maria (Kali Hansa).

tumblr_n10wyycKCL1skwl5to8_r1_1280Rosa, Ortiz’s wife (Jacqueline Laurent) clutching Linda’s diary.

Read my full review of Sinner HERE.

FACELESS (1987)

Starring: Helmut Berger, Brigitte Lahaie, Caroline Munro, Gérard Zalcberg, Anton Diffring, Howard Vernon, Telly Savalas

Faceless is more or less an eighties version of Franco’s 1962 film The Awful Dr. Orlof. Dr. Flamand’s wife has acid thrown in her face early in the film and the good doctor aims to do something about it; namely get her a pretty new face. With the assistance of his lover Nathalie (Brigitte Lahaie) and goon Gordon (Gerard Zalcberg) there is much face ripping and re-attaching. A cameo from Howard Vernon as Dr. Orloff, Anton Diffring as a Nazi doctor, and Telly Savalas as the father to a coke-snorting,  big-haired model played by Caroline Munro; not much to dislike here! Great cast, well-paced, gory action that screams the eighties.

tumblr_n46ri9QQQi1skwl5to1_1280
Dr. Flamand (Helmut Berger) examines a new “patient” while Nathalie (Brigitte Lahaie) looks on.

tumblr_o2gjjfnvRU1ubf88so1_1280Brigitte Lahaie as Nathalie “assisting”.

tumblr_o2hosx2tkH1ubf88so1_1280A gory face removal.

Read my full review of Faceless HERE.

NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND DESIRES (1984)

Starring: Lina Romay, Daniel Katz, Carmen Carrión, Albino Graziani, José Llamas, Alicia Príncipe, Mari Carmen Nieto

Irina and her lover Fabian tour nightclubs with their psychic act. Irina is plagued with terrible nightmares that she believes to be real. Fabian played by Daniel Katz is one of Franco’s all time biggest dick characters. He even looked like a weasel. That weaselly hair and those douchy clothes. I hated him. But I loved hating him. Lina Romay on the other hand plays one her most likable characters and gives a really solid performance; one of her best I think. Fabulous locations and set pieces and an intriguing story with lots of groovy surreal imagery.  Night has a Thousand Desires has everything I enjoy about Franco films and more.

tumblr_ojcajfdP1R1skwl5to1_1280A hysterical Irina (Lina Romay) in one of the film’s many trippy moments.

tumblr_ojc9iiLING1skwl5to1_1280Lorna (Carmen Carrión) kisses the forehead of Irina in another trippy scene.

tumblr_ojjklxBCS61skwl5to1_1280Irina (Lina Romay) finds blood on her hands and cannot remember how it got there.

Read my full review of Night has a Thousand Desires HERE.

VAMPYROS LESBOS (1971)

Starring: Soledad Miranda, Dennis Price, Paul Muller, Ewa Strömberg, Heidrun Kussin, José Martínez Blanco, Andrea Montchal

One of the first Franco films I ever seen and 70 films later it is still a favorite. Franco throws out the rules of vampire lore for this salacious outing. Linda (Ewa Strömberg) travels to a remote island to settle an estate with a wealthy Countess. The lonely, blood-thirsty Countess has other plans for Linda. Symbolism runs rampant in this sexy, psychedelic and surreal vampire love story.  Fabulous sets, beautiful cinematography and a badass soundtrack. Soledad Miranda as Countess Carody and Ewa Strömberg as Linda Westinghouse have fabulous chemistry; both are superb in their roles. Truly a shame that the talented Soledad Miranda died so young.

tumblr_n10x4b4Uaf1skwl5to6_1280Countess Nadine Carody’s (Soledad Miranda) performance at a club at the beginning of the film.

tumblr_nwhgaaWhRC1qzpdnho6_r1_1280Countess Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda) working on her tan.

tumblr_nonniyKvv71qayb8no2_1280Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Strömberg) splashed with blood.

Read my full review of Vampyros Lesbos HERE.

EUGENIE… THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1970)

Starring: Maria Rohm, Marie Liljedahl, Jack Taylor, Paul Muller, Christopher Lee

Based on the work of Marquis De Sade, the title really says it all. The fresh faced Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl) is a guest at the palatial manor of Madame Saint Ange (Maria Rohm) where her daisy like virtue is plucked petal by petal. Madame and step brother Mirvel (Jack Taylor) waste no time corrupting the young woman who by the story’s end is stripped bare both physically and emotionally. This is worth watching for Maria Rohm’s performance alone. A gorgeous, confident, classy and well-dressed degenerate of highest rank. Who wouldn’t do whatever the hell she asked? Certainly not Eugenie’s father; who sold his daughter for the opportunity to fuck Madame. I can’t imagine anyone better than Rohm in this role; in the Franco fold or otherwise. She is perfection. Marie Liljedahl still looks like a bloody teenager and fits well here as does the Lego-coiffed Jack Taylor. Amazing sets and costumes, a fabulous soundtrack and just an overall slick-looking film. Franco’s masterpiece.

tumblr_novupnUcGc1skwl5to2_1280Madame Saint Ange (Maria Rohm) helps Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl) with the suntan lotion.

tumblr_novupnUcGc1skwl5to8_1280Mirvel (Jack Taylor) taking care of business.

tumblr_novupnUcGc1skwl5to9_1280An epiphany for Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl).

FUN WITH GIFs: Blue Rita

Posted in movies on July 18, 2017 by goregirl

IMG_5078

IMG_5079

Image from Jess Franco’s 1977 film Blue Rita; an excessively stylish offering from Franco about a man-hating stripper turned extortionist spy.

Top Image: Blue Rita in the Opening Credits

Bottom Image: Pamela Stanford as Gina entering a room of one of their “guests” who they have just gassed.

FUN WITH GIFs: How to Seduce a Virgin

Posted in Film, Fun with GIFs, jess franco, movies with tags , , , , on July 16, 2017 by goregirl

IMG_4991

IMG_5024

Lina Romay in Jess Franco’s 1974 film How to Seduce a Virgin.

Top Image: Lina Romay’s character Adèle is excited to see her abusive mistress arriving home from the psychiatric hospital.

Bottom Image: One of Adèle’s many spaced out moments. Her character was a constant source of amusement for me from beginning to end. Her stockings were held up with rope 😀

FUN WITH GIFs: Venus in Furs

Posted in Film, Fun with GIFs, jess franco, movies with tags , , , , on July 15, 2017 by goregirl

IMG_4950

Opening credits for Jess Franco’s 1969 film VENUS IN FURS.

The Goddesses of Underground Cinema: MARIA ROHM

Posted in Film, jess franco, movies, The Goddesses of Underground Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by goregirl

venus_in_furs_lc_07Maria Rohm started her acting career at the age of four and worked in theatre until she auditioned for Harry Alan Towers at the age of 18. Rohm would go on to play roles in several films written by Towers including nine directed by Jess Franco. The Franco/Towers years were solid entertainment. I would argue the most coherent and aesthetically pleasing in his resume. If I was going to introduce the uninitiated to Jess Franco I would likely recommend a film from this period.  That said, I do have a special appreciation for the hysterics and sleaze of the Franco films that would follow; many of which are sure to make my Favorite Five Franco list. Maria Rohm and Harry Alan Towers were married in 1964 and remained together until Towers death in 2009. Rohm worked with directors Massimo Dallamano, Peter Collinson, Andrea Bianchi and Lindsay Shonteff among others but since this is part of my Jess Franco project I will be focusing on her Franco titles. Rohm retired from acting in 1976 but together with her husband continued to produce films. With only 27 credits listed on IMDB; this talented, beautiful and versatile actress, in my opinion, retired way too early. The sweet, sexy and stunning Maria Rohm will always be remembered as one of the Goddesses of Underground Cinema.

tumblr_oaudet479l1skwl5to2_r1_1280

In The Blood of Fu Manchu, Fu Manchu (played by Christopher Lee) discovers a poison that only affects men. He inoculates a group of women who are brainwashed into seducing Fu Manchu’s enemies; hence the film’s alternative title Kiss and Kill. It is all in the name of world domination of course! Maria Rohm plays cowgirl Ursula Wagner who along with Naylen Smith, Dr. Petrie and soldier Carl Jansen aim to foil Fu Manchu’s plans. A great female army setup is swallowed up by the less interesting subplots. It is not without some charm, but it is my least favourite of Rohm’s nine Franco flicks. No fault of hers, she is adorable in her cowgirl hat!

tumblr_nr76amgXsV1skwl5to1_1280

In 99 Women Maria Rohm plays Marie a new arrival at an Island Prison. Torture, rape and lesbianism runs rampant thanks to a corrupt warden. 99 Women is one of the earliest in the women in prison subgenre and still one of the best. A solid cast that includes Maria Schell, Mercedes McCambridge, Rosalba Neri, Herbert Lom and of course Rohm. Rohm is the empathetic character but to be honest, Rosalba Neri sort of steals every scene she is in.

tumblr_oj0mck3U851skwl5to1_1280

In The Girl from Rio Maria Rohm plays Leslye, a manicurist who has sex with a rich douchebag named Jeff Sutton. Jeff is transporting a suitcase full of money to the tune of ten million dollars. Jeff and Leslye unwittingly become involved in a war between Sumuru the leader of an all female city and gangster Sir Masius. Fabulous costumes and groovy cinematography kept me watching despite inept action sequences and a seriously awkward Shirley Eaton in the lead role. The Girl from Rio will definitely not be making my favorite’s list but Maria Rohm is completely at ease as the likable Leslye.

tumblr_nqsgi2edRL1skwl5to1_1280

In Marquis de Sade’s Justine Maria Rohm plays Juliette; sister to the titular Justine. After their father’s death the sisters are forced to leave the convent where they had been living. The duo are taken in by a madame where they are expected to prostitute themselves in return for accommodation. Justine refuses and sets out on a journey where she encounters a myriad of perverts, thieves and others degenerates. She is used, abused, thrown in prison and eventually sentenced to death. Meanwhile sister Juliette has embarked on a successful life of crime. This is the meaty sort of badass roles that fit Maria Rohm like a glove. Sexy and fearless; and goddamn she looks brilliant in period piece costuming! I felt lukewarm about certain aspects of Justine on my initial watch; specifically the choice of Romina Power as Justine. Despite these feelings it did make my top 10 horror film list for 1969. On subsequent watches (I now own the DVD) I have warmed up to Power in the role. Marquis de Sade’s Justine is absolutely a contender for my favorite list.

tumblr_o8kyfvtHuQ1skwl5to2_1280

tumblr_n1w4in61AZ1qzrs0co1_1280

tumblr_o8kxo1I1JI1skwl5to1_1280

In Venus in Furs Maria Rohm plays Wanda Reed. At the beginning of the film Wanda’s dead body is found on the beach by musician Jimmy Logan; flashbacks take the story full circle. Venus in Furs is a trippy, sexy, supernatural thriller; one of Franco’s most attractive films. Practically perfect despite the sketchy casting of James Darren as Jimmy Logan. Seems to me that there are actors and actresses that just are not comfortable in the Franco fold. Rohm has major screentime in this one and is definitely the star attraction. Sexy and sassy but also sweet and full of sadness. She gets solid support from Barbara McNair, Margaret Lee, Klaus Kinski and Dennis Price. Venus in Furs is another favorite list contender.

tumblr_oc171pyOGW1skwl5to5_1280

Corrupt and power-hungry Judge Jeffreys is a 17th century chief justice (Christopher Lee) known for his harsh verdicts. The Bloody Judge is infamous for condemning women as witches which his lackey dogs torture confessions from. Maria Rohm plays Mary Gray whose sister Alicia is accused of witchcraft. She pleads her sister’s case to no avail but does get the unwanted attentions of the judge who is determined to have her or ruin her. The judge however has other things to worry about, specifically the overthrow of the government that continues to give him too much authority. While Maria Rohm is simply engaging and perfect The Bloody Judge belongs to Mr. Lee. Definitely Christopher Lee’s best Franco appearance and a solid one in general among his 200+ filmography. Good stuff, but not favorite list good.

tumblr_nqe34vCENR1rrl4upo2_1280

tumblr_nqe34vCENR1rrl4upo6_1280

tumblr_nqe3j2Hceq1rrl4upo7_1280

In exchange for a role in the hay with Madame Saint Ange, Mistival agrees to send his daughter Eugenie to spend a weekend at the woman’s secluded island home. Eugenie, as the titles suggests, takes a journey into perversion and beyond. Eugenie… The Story of her Journey into Perversion is a naughty, delicious, twisted, psychedelic, sexy and sadistic treat. The lovely Marie Liljedahl, no stranger to sleazy cinema joins Franco regulars Maria Rohm, Jack Taylor and Paul Muller and is well-suited for the role with her baby face and starry eyes. Paul Muller is fun as douchy dad Mistival, I love Jack Taylor, he can do no wrong and Christopher Lee makes a brief but memorable appearance. But this one is all about Maria Rohm who spanks this baby and puts it to bed as Madame Saint Ange. Completely at ease with her savagery and perversion she wears it like a technicolor fucking dreamcoat. A stunning film visually with an arresting soundtrack and a fabulous plot twist; in fact, more than one plot twist! Spoiler; Eugenie… The Story of her Journey into Perversion  is guaranteed entry on my favorite Franco list.

tumblr_o67uvhkw6O1uls1d1o1_1280

Franco directs his version of the Bram Stoker story and keeps it pretty true. Count Dracula has a fantastic cast with Christopher Lee as Dracula, Klaus Kinski as Renfield, Herbert Lom as Van Helsing, Soledad Miranda as Lucy Westenra and Maria Rohm as Mina Harker. As you can see from the above image, Rohm is a striking Mina Harker. Everyone is perfectly cast. I love this version! Count Dracula is definitely a contender for my favorite five.

Screenshot (1523)

Screenshot (1522)

Screenshot (1524)

Screenshot (1525)

Sneaking in this one non- Franco Title. Maria Rohm has a small but memorable role as Alice Campbell in Massimo Dallamano 1970 film Dorian Gray. In this scene she is seduced by Helmut Berger’s Dorian Gray character. Seeing a naked Helmut Berger is probably one of the top 3 best possible things I could see after putting on my glasses!

Maria Rohm’s Filmography

Annie (1976)
Closed Up-Tight (1975)
The Killer is Not Alone (1975)
Ten Little Indians (1974)
The Call of the Wild (1972)
Treasure Island (1972)
Sex Charade (1972)
Black Beauty (1971)
Dorian Gray (1970)
Count Dracula (1970)
Eugenie (1970)
The Bloody Judge (1970)
Venus in Furs (1969)
Marquis de Sade’s Justine (1969)
Rio 70 (1969)
99 Women (1969)
The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968)
Eve (1968)
House of 1,000 Dolls (1967)
Five Golden Dragons (1967)
The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967)
The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)
Bang! Bang! You’re Dead! (1966)
City of Fear (1965)
24 Hours to Kill (1965)
Teufel im Fleisch (1964)
Mozambique (1964)