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2001 X RATED KULT DVD version / Even male lead Jack Taylor wonders: Which version is which?!


A confused Ramon Ardid is the hotel masseur who gets a full service blow job by the Countess Irina in the hardcore versions while in others just gets teased before it cuts to his body being carried away by helpful female vampire butler Luis Barboo!

How many versions are there of the 1973 Jess Franco project best known as FEMALE VAMPIRE? Countless!

Filmed under the title, LA COMTESSE NOIRE, as a non hardcore erotic vampire film set on the island of Madeira, this popular title had alternate scenes shot of bloody vampire attacks (for EROTIKILL) and still later hardcore scenes were added for that market. Franco/Eurocine obviously wanted different versions for different venues.

I’m going to attempt to do a single blog on each and every version I have on video/DVD or have heard about.

Deutsch [German language] Dolby
Dolby Stereo
Code 2/Europa

Extras: Trailers for Jean Rollin’s ZOMBIE LAKE; JF’s DIAMONDS OF KILIMANJARO (tinted); MONDO CANNIBAL; others.

This version contains all the hardcore footage but none of the straight bloodsucking footage seen in EROTIKILL [Force Video] and in the IMAGE FV extras folder.

VIDEO: Fair. Soft, generally unsharp, somewhat faded color, visible print damage.
AUDIO: Fair to poor- The most unusual, and annoying, aspect of this presentation is that the German dubbers have added various sounds made by the supposedly mute Countess Irina, she goes “Uh…”, “Oh…” and “Umm…”, moans and emits other atmosphere destroying noises. Why this was done is beyond me. She’s supposed to be completely silent! At least the movie works best that way.

I would be interested to know how many distinct versions of LA COMTESSE NOIRE blog readers have in their own collections and which are the favored ones. Don’t try to collect them all. Remember, there’s a recession on!

Written by Robert Monell

2 marzo 2017 at 3:43 AM


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Three films in HD plus a CD! Thanks to Cinema Arcana:

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Coming this April from our friends at Mondo Macabro — a Limited Edition set featuring HD upgrades for two of Jess Franco’s more twisted efforts from his Robert de Nesle period, plus some new surprises!

First up is the much requested Blu debut of Franco’s COUNTESS PERVERSE (1974). Restored to its director’s cut and scanned from the original negatives, the film is a sort of Most Dangerous Game by way of De Sade, as swingin’ couple Bob and Moira pick up beach bunnies from the sunny shores by day, and spend their nights seducing the same. However, things take a dark turn when their new friends are introduced to the Count & Countess Zaroff, who have their own idea of a good time. Showcasing great turns from Franco regulars Robert Woods, Howard Vernon, Alice Arno, and, of course, Lina Romay, COUNTESS PERVERSE is a disturbing mixture of sex and death, and has long been a fan favorite, for good reason — its legendary nude hunt is easily one of the most iconic sequences from the director’s vast filmography. Definitely one not to miss.

The second feature here is HOW TO SEDUCE A VIRGIN (aka Plaisir à trois, 1974). The Countess de Bressac returns home from a forced nuthouse stint, the court-appointed result of castrating her former plaything. Greeted by her hunchbacked gardener, mute maid and enabling husband, she immediately retreats to her dungeon, surrounded by human statues formed from past conquests. Her spouse proposes a new game, involving the seduction of the wealthy heiress next door, but when things don’t go as expected… Another of Franco’s examinations of the perversion of innocence, PLAISIR A TROIS is likewise one of the provocateur’s darker efforts, and it’s presented here scanned from the original negatives looking better than ever.

With these titles being previously released by Mondo Macabro on DVD, the company’s obviously porting over their existing special features, including a pair of excellent analyses by Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jess Franco author Stephen Thrower, and great chats with COUNTESS PERVERSE actor Robert Woods and HOW TO SEDUCE A VIRGIN screenwriter Alan Petit.

But wait, there’s more! This collection also contains the English-friendly disc debut of SEXY NATURE (1974), the complete 101-minute Adults Only variant of COUNTESS PERVERSE! Throw away those bootlegs; as with the other films here, it’s presented in HD from the original film elements — no tape inserts or anything of the sort.

Guess what? That’s not all! The outfit is additionally including a bonus CD featuring Blue Phantom’s 1971 psych-rock classic DISTORTIONS, containing several of the memorable tracks that popped up in both COUNTESS PERVERSE and the director’s SINNER: THE SECRET DIARY OF A NYMPHOMANIAC (1973). If you’re a fan of those films’ soundtracks, this is an incredible inclusion, and one I guarantee will be in heavy rotation at the ol’ Arcana HQ. Last, but certainly not least, there’s a printed booklet with liner notes from MM’s own Pete Tombs.

This Region A set is limited to 1,000 numbered copies, and will be an exclusive to Mondo Macabro’s webstore (mondomacabro.bigcartel.com). Pre-orders are set to go live Friday, March 3rd, with a ship date in early April. Pricing is expected to be set at $45 with free shipping, which may seem a bit high, but the company is really attempting to give Franco fans the kind of release they’ve been asking for, and it should be a great addition to our collections — whether or not you think it’s worth it is up to you. Viva la Franco!

(Note: I censored the cover art for Facebook; the actual release will be untouched.)

Written by Robert Monell

28 febrero 2017 at 1:42 AM


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aka Rote Lippen,  Sadisterotica, EL CASO DE LAS DOS BELLEZAS…

Michel Lemoine as the Werewolf-henchman 

Jess Franco’s delirious, candy colored Pop Art comedy-thriller was filmed in early 1967 right after Necronomicon (Succubus) with the same main cast, sans Jack Taylor. It was produced by Adrian Hoven in Munich and Alicante. Hoven also plays the villain,  Pop Art painter Radeck, who creates a werewolf-slave to kidnap women who will become models for his sado-masochistic canvases and sculptures. Once again the Artist-as-killer theme is the matrix in Franco’s second Red Lips film. Avoid the severely cut English language export, TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS. BESAME MONSTRUO, also featuring the Red Lips detective team, would follow,   with the same cast. This film was also influenced by the 1960 Italian Gothic MILL OF STONE WOMEN and has a scene involving “water boarding” torture.  A rousing jazz score by Fernando Garcia Morcillo boosts the action. Thanks to Francesco Cesari.

This, of course, would look terrific in High Definition. Let’s hope for an English release of the longer Spanish version, the English language TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS is missing about 15 minutes of footage. This is a visual delight, a time-trip straight back to the 1960s of Andy Warhol canvases and Jean-Luc Godard genre deconstructions. I always thought this film would make a great double bill with Joseph Losey’s OP-ART Eurospy confection, MODESTY BLAISE.

(C)Robert Monell 2017

Written by Robert Monell

26 febrero 2017 at 3:25 AM


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DR. ORLOFF’S MONSTER: Here’s my capsule review of the new Blu-ray release from Redemption Films
(C) Robert Monell:

Melissa (Agnes Spaak) arrives at the family castle in Holfen for a reading of her late father’s will. She is greeted by a local suitor (Pepe Rubio) and her uneasy Uncle, the scientist Dr. Fisherman (Marcel Aroita-Jauregui), who has just perfected a radio controlled creature, Andros (Hugo Blanco) who is actually his brother and the reanimated dead father of Melissa . Fisherman hides this fact from Melissa while sending Andros out on a murderous crime spree, targeting local women, who are performers in local nightclubs, as a way of proving his experiment works and of gaining satisfaction by acting out his hatred for women, which started when he caught his wife cheating on him with his brother.

This Blu-ray release is the French version (onscreen title LES MAITRESSSES DU DR. JEKYLL) with an added erotic insert which replaces the first murder scene in the Spanish version, EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF. Which means it’s still a murder scene depicting robot Andros killing a female employee of a local pub in Holfen, but the the actress who plays the victim in EL SECRETO… is replaced by a more scantily clad actress who performs a topless strip tease at the bar for a patron before she returns to her dressing room, disrobes further and is strangled by another body double who is supposed to be Andros. Another French version, broadcast by Australian’s SBS in the 1990s, has another erotic insert, depicting a second murder, featuring Jess Franco playing a piano in a sleazy hotel room while a female with him applies make up to a stuffed bird. She exits, goes up a flight of stairs, behind which Andros is lurking, and is strangled, again by a body double, as she takes a bath. Part of this scene, a view through a doorway of the victim’s unclothed body on the floor, remains in the eleven minutes of alternate, more sexually explicit, footage in the Special Features on the Redemption Blu-ray. Franco also plays a piano player in a nightclub in all other versions, as he does in his first horror film GRITOS EN LA NOCHE/THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF (1961). It’s obvious that Franco shot these alternate scenes, but not quite with the skill of the other, less explicit murders in the original Spanish versions, suggesting they were done quickly after being requested by the French co-producers (Eurocine aka Eurocineac) for the French market.

I noticed some details in this HD upgrade I hadn’t noticed over the course of many viewings, in particular the rough textured, cracked, dry skin of Andros mentioned by Tim Lucas in the very informative commentary. The exotic-erotic dance performances in the special features folder are full strength Euro-trashy, more Eurocine than Jess Franco. It fails the Howard Hawks test of a good film–three good scenes, no bad scenes (there are a number of very bad scenes)–but it’s very much worth seeing as a progress report. The main problem I have with the film itself is the beefy Spanish actor who plays Dr. Fisherman/Jekyll, he’s just a very bland performer and adds an unwelcome note of unintentional absurdity which breaks the somber mood. A horror film is as good as its villain and this has one of Franco’s most uninteresting villains. It’s a pretty rough hewn print, with noticeable scratches and marks throughout but the enhanced detail, commentary and additional scenes make it a worthwhile purchase. Transfer/video & Audio: B: Bonus material: B; Film: B-.

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 Early cheesecake, a la Jess Franco.

Written by Robert Monell

7 febrero 2017 at 2:50 AM


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Soledad Miranda, left, in her first Jess Franco film, the 1960 musical comedy starring her mentor Mikaela Wood, right. A very colorful, Spanish inflected genre piece.

 This is an absolutely delicious looking candy colored  musical which was originally scheduled to be directed by the reliably workmanlike Leon Klimovsky, whom Franco worked with as a writer and assistant. The delightful mise en scene is entrancing from the opening shots, which are focused on the rooftops of a working class section of Madrid. It’s  almost a cubist approach with pastel hues.  The camera swoops down from an overhead angle on Mikaela Wood doing a whirling folk dance for the street  people. As in so many of his films it begins in the midst of an erotic performance.

It’s a Universe away  from the Gothic black and white nightmare world in the forthcoming  GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961), where even the dancing girls seemed stifled by the imprisoning male gaze of Dr. Orloff (Howard Vernon). But there are no such malignant male gazes here, only gorgeous costumes, romantic intrigues and happy songs. It’s easy to get lost in this beautiful haze only equaled by the Hollywood musicals of Minelli and Donen.         The longer Spanish version must be seen to be appreciated  by Jess Franco enthusiasts and those who claimed Franco was a sloppy craftsman. Not here.

This would greatly benefit from a full 4k restoration. Music becomes the language of cinema and vice versa here.  An essential starting point in the Jess Franco curriculum.

(C) Robert Monell, 2017




Written by Robert Monell

17 enero 2017 at 6:09 AM


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REVENGE OF THE ALLIGATOR LADIES (Jess Franco & Antonio Mayans, 2013): Review of Jess Franco’s final filmImage may contain: one or more people, sunglasses, beard and text



Jess Franco plays himself in this sly comedy in which he is engaged in directing another erotic film while the subject of his previous film, private detective Al Pereira, attempts to relate to the eccentric film making process of Jess Franco. Pereira also has difficult relationships with his son and women in general, illustrated in various amusing vignettes. He travels to Germany where he becomes accidentally involved in a sort of international espionage affair due to his presence at a Communist gathering. Lead actor-co-director Antonio Mayans introduces the film as an “Audio-visualization… based on a surreal story”, which is an appropriate enough synopsis.

Back in Spain director Franco continues to film the alligator ladies, Carmen Montes, Irene Verdu and Paula Davis, in extended erotic interludes. Much of the Franco-directed footage is shot through mirrors showing both the erotic action and Franco directing it. These self reflexive images are a carry-over from Franco’s previous Al Pereira adventure, AL PEREIRA VS THE ALLIGATOR LADIES and his 1980 surrealist science fiction parody, EL SEXO ESTA LOCO. The scenes involving Pereria and his family, friends and associates, along with the scenes filmed in Germany were directed by longtime Franco actor-associate Antonio Mayans after Franco’s death in April, 2013. Pereira is gamely played by Mayans as a long-suffering victim of everyone’s ridicule, especially the director and the alligator ladies, who have the last word. The irreverent tone and sharp edged dialogue sometimes evoke the droll repartee of the W.S. Van Dyke’s 1934 mystery-comedy THE THIN MAN. It should be noted that classic film was made on a B budget, on a rushed schedule by Woody “One Shot” Van Dyke.

This is the last in a long running series of Jess Franco directed films about troubled investigator Al Pereira, the first being ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS/CARTAS BOCA ARRIBA (1966), in which Pereira was played by American singer-actor Eddie Constantine. A shorter, incomplete version of REVENGE OF THE ALLIGATOR LADIES, directed by Franco himself, is more focused on the director shooting erotic scenes with Montes and co. Franco’s presence is again central, the film opens with him facing the camera, delivering a comic-esoteric monologue. His image moves even further into the mirror, and now he’s on the other side of the mirror.

Other recommended Franco Al Pereira titles include LES EBRANLEES (1972), with Howard Vernon in the role, DOWNTOWN (1975), which features Franco himself as the detective, BOTAS NEGRAS, LATIGO DE CUERO (1982) and CAMINO SOLITARIO (1983), in which Mayans finally took over the role.

REVENGE OF THE ALLIGATOR LADIES will be of interest to Jess Franco enthusiasts, cult film historians and collectors as the ultimate illustration of Jess Franco’s obsession with the process of personal creation while continuing to throw himself into his work right up until his passing.

Robert Monell, 2017

Written by Robert Monell

12 enero 2017 at 8:41 PM


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Thanks to Mario Giguere..


 Les gloutonnes [Maciste et

Here’s an update of my review of LES GLOUTONNES, Jess Franco’s Z budget peplum from 1973. Actually, this and YUKA/THE LUSTFUL AMAZONS were shot  back-to-back or since it’s Jess Franco, simultaneously, with same cast, on the same locations. They’re odd wonderments , unpretentious,  no-budget fun. Originally published by the wonderful Club Des Monstres in 2008.

Directed under his French beard, Clifford Brown, this is a fascinating mess due to the fact that Robert de Nesle and co. took a supposedly “serious” movie and made it into a delirious collage of peplum, adventure, comedy, erotic and fantasy patterns. It’s Wal Davis as the legendary Maciste (first seen in the 1913 Italian epic, CABIRIA) vs. Robert Woods (LA COMTESSE PERVERSE) as the explorer Caronte, who, turned by the evil sorceress Parka (Kali Hansa), attempts to overthrow and kill the Queen of Atlantis, played by Alice Arno. Maciste prevails with the help of “the gobblers”,  the lost women of Atlantis. Howard Vernon makes an appearance as Cagliostro (cf LA MALDICION DES FRANKENSTEIN), who, along with his puckish assistant (Richard De Conninick), views the erotic adventures via a magical globe. A very interesting, eclectic score, credited to Robert Viger [?], is a bonus. The shot-on-Madeira locations are rather intoxicating, especially explored by the director’s trademark telezoom lens in the manner of the much more somber LA COMTESSE NOIRE, also 1973.

There’s even a hardcore sex scene thrown in the mix, with a nude man descending  a spiral staircase to spray down Ms. Arno and another actress with pent up white fluid which looks like mayonnaise. Mark Forest was originally supposed to play Maciste, according to Franco, but another actor was mistakenly engaged. Davis (rn Wadlemar Wohlfahrt) ending up as a goofy looking Maciste.
The opening sequence of Robert Woods exploring  a misty valley and the first view of the stormy coast of “Atlantis” are outstanding images, but unless you are a Franco completest you may hate this film. The emergence of a platoon of white sheeted ghouls looks lik outtakes from the alternate Spanish version of  EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN while some additional footge of Alice Arno looks like alternate footage from one of the many versions of THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA. Franco also made YUKA (also 1973 with Davis / Wohlfahrt Waldemar and Robert Woods playing the leads), another erotic “peplum” set in the Middle Ages. Both would make a nice double bill on a High Def restoration.   Robert Monell

For more reviews:

(C) Robert Monell 2010-2017

Written by Robert Monell

3 enero 2017 at 11:16 PM