EL FRANCONOMICON / I'M IN A JESS FRANCO STATE OF MIND

Robert Monell & Alex Mendíbil Blog Alliance

THE GIRL WITH RED LIPS (1986)

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From EL FRANCONOMICON

Written by Robert Monell

23 noviembre 2016 at 10:08 PM

Coming December 13, 2016!

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Looking forward to Mondo Macabro’s upcoming HD release of this Jess Franco favorite. One of his best films from the 1980s. A delirious erotic thriller…

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Written by Robert Monell

21 noviembre 2016 at 5:34 PM

Coming in January 2017!

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Jess Franco’s second film in his long running Dr. Orloff series is finally debuting on Blu-ray. Redemption Films has announced they will be releasing this presentation in January 2017. It will include a commentary track by Tim Lucas.

GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (aka THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF, 1961), the first in the series, has already been released by Redemption in HD. It should also be noted that Dorado Films is releasing the third Jess Franco Dr. Orloff film, THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF (1973), in a number of different editions in the next few weeks. No plans yet have surfaced for a HD edition of the fourth in the series, THE SINSTER DR. ORLOFF (1982), which features Howard Vernon as an aged Dr. Orloff and Antonio Mayans as his son, an insane biologist who continues his father’s dubious experiments. The latter is a pretty delirious exercise in Spanish Horror y Sexo and one hopes it will get a much needed HD upgrade. I have seen an English subtitled copy and will discuss that in a future blog.

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I have seen three versions of EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF, including the Spanish version which features footage not in any other version. The French version LES MAITRESSES DUDOCTEUR JEKYLL, has alternate footage Franco shot as the request of Eurocine, the French co-producer. DR. ORLOFF’S MONSTER is the US release version, which has an alternate opening credit sequence with Americanized names of the cast and crew.

Written by Robert Monell

18 noviembre 2016 at 10:13 PM

ESCLAVAS DEL CRIMEN (1986)

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Slaves of Crime 1986  European Trash Cinema print. Produced by Mundial Films;  Directed by James Lee Johnson (Jess Franco); DP: Juan Soler Cozar. With:  Lina Romay (Saï Sen, Fu Manchu’s daughter), Marco Moriarty (Marco Mandell), Mel Rodrigo (Jessie), Maite Saury, Erik Raymond, José Llamas, Maria Hill, Yolanda Mobita, Carmen Carrion (Magda). 87m, Agfacolor, widescreen.

(a.k.a. ESCLAVAS DEL CRIMEN)

This obscurity is a deliriously filmed erotic adventure that updates Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu tales (Rohmer receives screen credit, as “S. Rohmer”). Lina Romay appears as the daughter of Fu Manchu, made up with heavily applied exotic eye mascara and an outlandish hair style. She is the merciless Sai Sen, queen of crime.

A title card explains that the action will unfold “in an exotic corner of the distant east, [a] paradise of drugs and corruption”…  Rock star Rocky Guardas is kidnapped by Sai Sen’s seductive female agents and transported to a high rise hotel in the jungle, which doubles as an armed camp. He is the most recent victim of a large scale kidnap operation where the abducted are drugged, tortured, and forced to sign over bank accounts and other financial holdings while being held for further ransom.

This all-female criminal enterprise is investigated by a karate fighting private investigator and an Interpol agent who wears a pink shirt. The movie climaxes with an air strike carried out by Jump-Jets delivering a napalm payload into the encampment. This amusing, if sometimes slow-paced trifle is most interesting for the extensive use of lens filters which flood many scenes with eye pleasing halation effects, bathing the action with bright, candy colored waves which sometimes obscure the action.

The female bunch are a sexy and imposing army of Amazons that recall Shirley Eaton and her followers in THE GIRL FROM RIO/FUTURE WOMEN (1968). There’s more erotica on display here than that Harry Alan Towers production, with extensive nudity and some flogging, bondage, etc. thrown into the hazy mise-en-scene.

An action film with too little action and too much talk, nevertheless the hallucinatory lens flares and atmosphere of humid exotica exert a certain pull.  The use of extensive stock footage to establish the milieu and is obvious and distracting. Nonetheless Jess Franco’s ability to pack each frame with interesting, arcane visual detail, personal fetishes and obscure Pop-Art/cinema references always gives the interested viewer something to discover.  The downmarket studio exotica of Von Sternberg’s THE SHANGHAI GESTURE and MACAO are perhaps related points of reference.

One wonders what the Clasificada S crowds in Spain thought of this entry. Even when the action, actors and dialogue falter Juan Soler Cozar’s compositions continue to engage interest.

(C) Robert Monell, 2013

 

Written by Robert Monell

4 noviembre 2016 at 9:42 PM

UNA RAJITA PARA DOS (1982)

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Credited to “Lulu La Verne” UNA RAJITA PARA DOS (rough translation: A PUSSY FOR TWO) is Jess Franco’s most disgusting film. Nevertheless, it is not an uninteresting dip into the sordid waters of scatological hardcore.

 Below: Jess Franco as the hotel voyeur in UNA RAJITA PARA DOS.
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Spy (Emilio Linder) in UNA RAJITA PARA DOS (Lulu La Verne, 1982)

Image may contain: one or more peopleEveryone is a spy in this film, including Jess Franco himself as a hotel clerk-voyeur. The most amusing character is a happy-go-lucky spy nicknamed “The Queen” (Franco regular Antonio Mayans). His spyware includes the kind of audio pick-up that James Bond might have used in one of his classic adventures, enjoying the sounds of the various erotic adventures in adjacent hotel rooms.
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Tommy  Proculi aka Antonio Mayans practices audio voyeurism as a gay Russian spy named “The Queen”…..
The setting is the Flamingo Hotel located on the exotic Costa del Sol. Linda is a female spy who is attempting to recover some stolen microfilm secreted in the rectum of a male agent (Johnny Poyales aka Jose Llamas).  Her team includes such 1980s Franco players as Maria del Carmen Nieto (MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD) and Emilio Linder (DIAMONDS OF KILAMANJARO). The Queen is also on the trail of the microfilm.
Lina Romay, who co-directed with Franco, and Mayans look like they had a lot of fun making this very minor hardcore which is mostly made up of grind footage, money shots and gynecological close-ups featuring the most disgusting images Franco even filmed, detailing the insertions and extractions of the microfilm into a spy’s nether region. Think Pasolini’s SALO. To drive home his satirical point, Franco shot these scenes through a magnifying glass. His philosophy seemed to be to give “too much information” to the raincoat crowd, who just expected the typical cheap thrills.
I guess Jess Franco figured if he had to make a film like this he might as well have some fun with hermetic in-jokes and a sarcastic toned overview of the hardcore product which flooded the Spanish market at that time.  Another mixture of self, linguistic and cultural satire which launched a series of hardcore mini-epics produced by Fernando Vidal Campos’ FERVI FILMS, Madrid. My own personal favorite of the Fervi hardcores, and also a favorite of Jess, is the 1985 EL MIRON Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA, which features magnetic interactions between these typical close-ups, a thriller undercurrent and a cubist mise-en-scene.
This obscurity received a Spanish video release on the Valfer label. Don’t expect a restored Blu-ray edition anytime soon.
The hotel and Costa del Sol exteriors shimmer with candy colored flora and there are a few sight gags which might produce a guffaw from the completest.  My favorite scene is the ending where Franco’s voyeur passes off the microfilm to “The Queen” who skips his merry way back toward the Soviet Union. The upbeat Hot Jazz/80s funk score* is credited to Victor Chichi Nabeira, presumably a beard for the director.  More sexually related pseudonyms in the credits include Francesco Del Pi Trofuera (out with your cock) as DP (also Franco), Tony Procula (stick it up the rear),  Mele Metes (stick it in) and Cheno Manboliques (sounds like something bizarre) as exec producer.
Runtime is 84 minutes, four minutes longer than the time noted in OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO.
*The score also contains excerpts from Daniel White’s LA COMTESSE NOIRE (1973) music and other soundtracks credited to Pablo Villa.
Thanks to Nzoog for the translations and helping me see this ultra obscure title.
(C) Robert Monell, 2016

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Written by Robert Monell

1 noviembre 2016 at 9:17 PM

Franco, The Exorcist

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EXORCISME (1974) Bluray

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Written by Robert Monell

28 octubre 2016 at 2:59 AM

Jess Franco meets Walt Disney, The Killer Barbys & Dracula…

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From left: actor Dan Van Husen, Producer Carsten Frank confer with Jess Franco on the Torremolinos set of KILLER BARBYS VS DRACULA in 2001. Spaghetti Western regulars Aldo Sambrell and Peter Martell, as Dracula, are also featured in the Horror-Musical-Comedy, a delightful tribute to Walt Disney by way of Bram Stoker, Jess Franco style.  We’ll be revisiting this film here in the future. One of my personal favorites of his Shot on Video productions of the 21st Century….

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Cinematographic Process Betacam SP

Written by Robert Monell

27 octubre 2016 at 2:20 AM