Archive for Vampyros Lesbos

Spy Game

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2013 by dcairns

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A little in memoriam piece on Jesus Franco at The Forgotten today.

I confess to mixed feelings about Snr Franco. At times, I’ve thought him the worst director in the world. He certainly didn’t do what most directors commonly thought of as good do. But he did do things nobody else would. Who else would begin a movie with shots of fetuses in jars, accompanied by upbeat lounge music? And for no reason?

The movie under discussion today stars Eddie Constantine as secret agent Al Pereira, and by coincidence I just realized that Pereira returns as lead character in Franco’s last film, made just last year, AL PEREIRA VS THE ALLIGATOR LADIES. Like that awful Dr Orloff, Franco’s characters weren’t confined to one film, and his films cannibalized popular culture too: in VAMPYROS LESBOS, Dennis Price plays Dr Seward from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a role played by Paul Muller in Franco’s COUNT DRACULA, but then Price returns as Frankenstein in two later films, which feature Alberto Dalbes as a character named Dr. Seward.

Franco, in other words, was a postmodernist — his films have permeable boundaries, with characters, situations and even footage slip-sliding from one to another, and into and out of other films and media. NIGHT OF THE ASSASSINS claims, in its opening credits, to be based on “The Cat and the Canary by Edgar Allan Poe,” which is remarkable since that play was authored by John Willard, some time after Poe’s death. Franco may not have been personally responsible for that illiterate bit of hucksterism, but in a way it’s apt, suggesting the pop culture melting pot his films simmered in.

This all lends some accuracy to Tim Lucas’s statement that “you can’t see one Franco film until you’ve seen them all.”

In today’s offering, Constantine is shown an array of gadgets by his spymasters and remarks, “You must have seen a lot of James Bond movies.”

“More than you can imagine,” comes the reply.

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How Awful!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2008 by dcairns

One for the Jess Franco fans!

Franco first detailed the misadventures of demonic plastic surgeon Dr. Orloff in 1962, in GRITOS EN LA NICHE, better known as THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF. It’s a cheap ‘n’ nasty rip-off of Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE, in which the titular mad scientist (American Swiss abroad Howard Vernon) is swiping the kissers of young girls to decorate the head-front of his mutilated daughter. Well, we’ve all done it.

Totally lacking the pop-surrealist poetry of the Franju classic, Franco’s film is nevertheless atmospherically shot in black-and-white, with noirish lighting effects, wide angle lens distortion, and nice tracking shots. It’s very different from the modernist noodling of later Franco breast-fests like VAMPYROS LESBOS. He leaves the zoom lens in the box this time.

Vernon’s mad scientist romped bloodily through numerous sequels by Franco and others, making him poor cousin to horror staples like Dracula and Frankenstein. He seems to have been treated as a copyright-free myth from the off, so that anybody can use him if they feel like it. His last outing, still played by Vernon, was in the glossy, cheesy, and appallingly nasty FACELESS, where he lurks in the background, allowing Helmut Berger to dominate the procedings, peeling one victim’s face off and SHOWING IT TO HER. Despite the always-ludicrous presence of Telly Savalas, Chris Mitchum, Anton Diffring and Caroline Munro (and Stephanie Audran! WTF?), the movie keeps slipping out of the realms of camp, into more upsetting territory. If you’re going to see it, turn the hot water on first. You’ll need it.

Anyhow, go HERE. Just when I was speculating what Victor Frankenstein might be getting up to nowadays! It makes perfect sense that Orloff, or maybe the SON OF ORLOFF, would wind up in such circs.