Friday, February 10, 2017

FRANCO FEBRUARY! THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA (1975) (Blu-ray Review)



THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA (1975) 

Label: Severin Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 80 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0
Video: 1080p widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Alice Arno, Veronica Limera, Lina Romay, Paul Muller, Catherine Lafferière, Pierre Taylou



Euro-cult legend and artful smut master Jess Franco's The Hot Nights of Linda (1975) begins with a young woman named Maria-France (Alice Arno, Countess Perverse) accepting a position as a live-in secretary for a wealthy weirdo named Mr. Steiner (Paul Muller, Nightmare Castle). Steiner lives on a Greek island in a picturesque mansion overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean sea, he resides there with his paraplegic daughter Linda (Catherine Lafferière, Exorcism) and her sex-crazed cousin Olivia, played by Jess Franco muse and 70's sex-kitten Lina Romay (How to Seduce a Virgin). There's also a  mute manservant named Abdul (Pierre Taylou, Cecelia) who doesn't speak a word, just sorta grunts, but somehow he manages to get a steady stream of lady-love just the same.


When the ginger-muffed Marie-France arrives on the island her presence amps up the strange and sleazy happenings on inside the home. This side effect is particularly strong in the case of young Olivia who is seeming rather bored with her wealthy lifestyle, winding up in about every bed at the mansion, including that of the sex-stud Abdul. She even distracts herself by occasionally carpet-munching her own invalid cousin - it's a strange, rapey and incestuous scenario - but even that is nothing compared to the potassium fueled penetration she performs on the "Hard Banana" version included on the bonus disc on this 2-disc set - WOW!



As a Jess Franco production it's probably redundant at to say that the sleaze is literally dripping right off the screen> We get loads of wonderful depravity, including copious amounts of voyeurism, a smattering of sadism and incest, some lesbianism, a bit of rape, and murder (of course), The Hot Night of Linda is truly a treasure trove of 70's Franco depravity. The way Olivia (Romay) sucks-off a banana is completely overwhelming, and Alice Arno as Marie-France is nice pint-sized slice of horniness. When she rubs suntan lotion on Olivia's breasts its leads straight into the expected sun-drenched lesbian encounter you're hoping for,  and it doesn't disappoint.

Some of themes are pretty dark, even by Franco standards. When weirdo Mr. Steiner finds his nympho niece riding the manservant raw he shackles him in the basement dungeon and delivers a thrashing. It's also strongly implied there's an incestuous secret between Steiner and his naughty niece, he is haunted by visions of his departed wife while Olivia has recurring nightmares of her uncle murdering his wife's lover, it's weird stuff and we get some nicely executed dream sequences, the film has a great balance of tension, eroticism and surreal atmosphere.


Having just watched Franco's Countess Perverse (1973) and How to Seduce a Virgin (1973) it's was easy to pick-up on, not just a few familiar faces, but familiar Franco themes that each of the film share. We have the depravity of the wealthy, the amoral tendencies of the depraved, some sadism mixed in with eroticism, and gorgeous locations. Franco had a great eye for exotic set-pieces, and this a wonderfully shot film.

My list of grievances on this one  are pretty short, the dubbed-dialogue is awful, but no one ever sat down to watch a Jess Franco film for it's dialogue, that's for sure. Pierre Taylou is awful as the manservant and there's a weird slapstick side story involving a detective and photographer spying on the family hoping to uncover a murder plot, that's goofy, but we do get a fun striptease, otherwise The Hot Nights of Linda (1975) is pant-swelling Euro-cult classic from Franco. 


Audio/Video: Jess Franco's The Hot Nights of Linda (1975) arrives on Blu-ray from Severin Films with an AVC encode, the 1080p widescreen image is a bit rough but represents the most complete and attractive version of the film available to date. The well worn print bares the alternate But Who Raped Linda? title card and is rampant with white specs, debris and scratches, the most severe are a series of vertical scratches appearing at the 46:48 mark. The image also suffers from softness, faded colors and the dark scenes that are murky, it could be better but apparently these were the best elements available. There's an English-dubbed DTS-HD Mono 1.0 audio track with no subtitles option, dialogue is never difficult to understand and the Greek-influenced score sounds quite nice.

Extras include Hot Nights, a 16-minute interview with Director Jess Franco who speaks about writing the role for Lina Romay who previously only appeared in supporting roles, the score, and working with Alice Arno, Paul Muller and the various incarnations of the film.

There's also a 12-minute interview with Jess Franco and Lina Romay whom discuss of the cast, script and the definitive edition of the film, it ends with Romay talking about her dislike of seeing herself on film, which is not a problem we share, I love it. Author Stephen Thrower appears to discuss this entry and this prolific period of Franco's career, describing Franco's creative process, the strange sound editing and dubbing process, going on to to discuss the various edits, alternate titles and versions of the film.

Extras are rounded out by a theatrical trailer, a short clip of Jess Franco accepting his Fantastic Fest Lifetime Achievement Award, nearly six minutes of outtakes featuring an additional Lina Romay sex scene and Alice Arno nude.

The first 2500 editions of this set include a limited edition bonus DVD featuring the super-rare French "Hard Banana" Version (79 Minutes) of the film with hardcore sex inserts filmed by Jess Franco himself, it's definitely something of a curiosity with extended masturbation and sex sequences. we have Lina Romay sucking cock, performing a hand-job and Arno eating Romay's hairy 70's pussy, it's pretty raw. Not to be missed is Pierre Tayou pulling out and spilling his seed across Romay's stomach, it's by far his best scene in the movie. Now, the quality of this version is pure shit, a cropped sub-VHS image in French with burned-in French subtitles. Check out the screen grab below for a comparison of the Blu-ray image versus the Hard Banana version, it's a shocker.



Blu-ray Version 
Hard Banana Version
Special Features:
- Hot Nights: Exclusive Interview With Director Jess Franco (16 min)
- Jess and Lina Talk Linda: xclusive Interview With Director Jess Franco and Star Lina Romay (12 min)
- Fantastic Fest Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation To Franco (2 min)
- NIGHTMARE USA Author Stephen Thrower On Linda (12 min)
- Outtakes (6 min)
- Trailer (4 min)
- Bonus Disc - Limited to first 2500 Copies - French Hard Banana Version (DVD)

The Hot Nights of Linda (1975) is a deeply satisfying slice of 70's voyeuristic sleaze with all the depravity and eroticism you've come to expect from prime era Jess Franco, filled with the lurud beauty, 70s weirdness and plenty of Lina Romay and Alice Arno in their naked glory. This is a top-notch set from Severin, highly recommended. 3/5

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