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

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CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (Adrian Hoven, 1968)

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This Gothic-Sexploitation effort, from prolific Austrian actor-producer-director Adrian Hoven, is definitely Jess Franco related, even if one wonders to what extent JF contributed to the original story idea, as is reported by some sources (OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO, THE MANACOA FILES), but it does have some elements which will be very familiar to those up on his filmography.

Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde (1968)

 

Released in July 1968, this affair plays like a crude version of the kind of elegant hallucination which Jess Franco turned out with NECRONOMICON/Succubus (1967), another tale of wealthy hedonists going the way of all flesh.

Image result for castle of the creeping flesh

Besides being written, produced and directed by Hoven, under the beard Percy G. Parker, CASTLE.. features Franco regular Howard Vernon as the mad, vengeance seeking Earl of Saxon and the evil eyed Michel Lemoine as the sauve rapist, Baron Brack. Most importantly it features Lemoine’s then-wife Janine Reynaud as a enthusiastic upscale party girl. Reynaud and Lemoine would play key roles in Franco’s own trilogy he earlier made for Hoven’s Aquila Films, NECRONOMICON, KISS ME MONSTER and SADISTEROTICA. Reynaud’s disturbing presence as the main character of NECRONOMICON in particular adds much to that film’s potent atmosphere.

By the time CASTLE was made Franco was on his way to work for producer Harry Alan Towers on the production of THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU (1968). This German production, had developed, according to Alain Petit in THE MANACOA FILES* partially from a conversation between Jess Franco, who suggested that Howard Vernon play Cagliostro rather than Saxon, with Hoven, who went his own way with the project.

The themes of decadence, rape and revenge can be found in Franco’s own NECRNOMICON, which is shot in a similarly soft focus style by the same DP.  Both OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO and Petit’s study credit Franco with the original idea. The credits below are based on both the credits in Petit’s book and OBSESSION.**

Prod Co : Aquila Films (RFA) Dir : Percy G.Parker (Adrian Hoven. rn: Peter Hofkirchner) DP : Jorge Herrero Martin, Franz Hofer Sc : Eric Martin
Schnitzler, Adrian Hoven from an original idea by Jess Franco (uncredited) Mus : Jerry Van Rooyen
With : Janine Reynaud, Howard Vernon (Earl of Saxon), Michel Lemoine (Baron Brack), Jan Hendriks, Elvira Berndorff, Claudia Butenuth, Pier A .Caminecci, Vladimir Medar (the servant).
Pier A. Caminecci also had a small role in NECRONOMICON as well as contributing to the production end of that crucial title.
CASTLE… opens in the midst of a wild, 3 day party Baron Brack has been hosting at his estate. Everyone is drunk and dancing. Soon he leaves with Reynaud’s engaged sister (Elvira Berndorff), whom he rapes at his remote hunting lodge. Reynaud later arrives on horseback accompanied by Caminecci and co. but the victim of the rape has fled to the Earl’s property, where she is taken in. The Earl’s daughter (Butenuth) has also been recently raped and is the subject of a revivification attempt in the castle’s basement. The operation involves open hearth surgery via bloody stock footage which fills the lulls in action.
In the meantime there are flashbacks to the rape of the daughter of the Earl’s 16th Century ancestor, whom the ancestor avenged by murdering his compliant mistress, also played by Reynaud. Although shot by the DP of NECROMONICON all this is just a soft focus blur. Finally, back in modern times, the Earl’s daughter is brought back from the brink of the grave only to implicate the Baron as a serial rapist. The Earl then slays the Baron and, accidentally, his newly revived daughter, whose body he carries to the castle. tower from which he then throws himself.
The black clad, skull faced figure of Death closes out the cycle of revenge by riding out of the castle grounds as a Pale Rider on a white horse while upbeat jazzy music, by NECRONOMICON composer Jerry Von Rooyen (?) plays and a voiceover (by Hoven) announces the theme of love and death. Where was Jess Franco when needed? Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining enough ride into the adult fairy tale in the Black Forest sub-genre. It once again illustrates that not everyone can make a “Jess Franco” film, even with the appropriate cast, material and settings.
Unfortunately, this time Ms. Reynaud doesn’t radiate the uncanny presence she possessed in NECRONOMICON, but Lemoine and Vernon are more than capable of meeting the demands of the wide ranging villainy.  If it’s a bad film, it’s bad in a fun way, as in Le Bad Cinema/European Trash Cinema.
(C) 2016 Robert Monell

Written by Robert Monell

15 octubre 2016 a 8:20 PM

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