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

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DAUGHTER OF DRACULA in HD!

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Coming Oct 4, 2016 on Blu-ray from Redemption Films.  Features: French language with English subtitles, audio commentary by Tim Lucas, alternate covered footage and original theatrical trailers.  The commentary and alternate footage promise to be of special interest. I also hope the original credit sequence is restored.

The 1hr 22 m announced runtime is several minutes longer than any version I’ve seen. I also hope they do a future HD release of DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN at some point. I’ve always considered DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN, DAUGHTER OF DRACULA and EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN as a sort of unofficial monster rally trilogy, Jess Franco style. Howard Vernon as Dracula, in similar garb and coffin bound in DOD,  in the first two and the lumbering silver skinned Frankenstein (Fernando Bilbao) in two separate films, are unique, outre creations, which carry a distinct Jess Franco imprint. These are not Universal’s or Hammer’s classic monsters, which explains why enthusiasts of those earlier films often reject Franco’s presentation of the creatures and ambiance.Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein

It’s startling to behold the esteemed but downward spiraling Dennis Price as the mad monster maker in DCF and EROF, failing to dominate the world with his sewn together man.  All three also have Franco regular Alberto Dalbes as the representative of “good science”/law and order. According to Franco, the alcoholic Price would start drinking brandy at 6.30AM every morning to prepare himself for the day’s shoot. He does not look like a well man in these films, which only adds to the macabre tone.  Britt Nichols is in all three, as a female vampire in two and the intended bride of Frankenstein in EROF. Her tragically obsessed character in DOD may be her best role and performance for Franco.

All three seem to have been made back-to-back/within the same year (1971 to 1972), with the same settings, recurring characters, crew members and casts. Of course, the covered Spanish version of EROTIC RITES ( LA MALDICION DE FRANKENSTEIN) is an interesting, if problematic outrigger to the trilogy idea, if that was what the director intended. When I asked Jess about it in 2004, he almost shouted that he preferred the “Erotic!” version of EROF and regretted having to do covered re-shoots, which extended the schedule while looking pretty ridiculous and distracting from the intended visual design. Finally, and importantly, all three are Robert De Nesle C.F.F.P. co productions, which meant that rigid budget constraints and detailed work on post-production reverted to the De Nesle team, who did their usual wonders.

These monster-bis entries have a special Erotic-Fumetti-Neri style, featuring frequent telezooms into forbidden zones, faces, bloody carnage and architectural details, along with sparse dialogue and outre soundscapes with some of the most memorable music to appear in Franco’s filmography. DCF and EROF would make it onto my list of tier one Jess Franco films.

Please let it be known that a release of DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN aka DRACULA PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN, in correct OAR, is needed and wanted. I have to admit every time I see the mad zoom shots into the misty mountain top castle Frankenstein, set to the rumbling music of Bruno Nicolai, I get a chill up my spine. It should be noted that both the Spanish and 2006 IMAGE DVDs of DCF are annoyingly cropped at 1.85:1, cutting off information on both sides, distorting the carefully composed compositions, which Jess told me were painstakingly calibrated to the scope format so that a separate but equal field of presentation would be available  in center, right and left of each composition. This strategy is lost in most previous video/digital presentations and contradicts the frequent criticisms that this is a sloppily made film. Also, the somewhat faded color, mediocre definition, sharpness and overall detail leave a lot to be desired in these releases. It’s actually one of the director’s most successfully realized projects, albeit a no-budget shoot done on a rushed schedule. He would frequently mention it as one of the films with which he was most pleased. I hope whoever has the American release rights reads this post and provides the kind of HD presentation this film deserves.

 

C Robert Monell, 2016

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Written by Robert Monell

19 julio 2016 a 3:15 PM

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  1. Robert Monell

    6 octubre 2016 at 2:37 AM


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