Monday, February 27, 2017



Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region FREE
Duration: 93 Minutes / 102 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English 2.0 PCM Uncompressed, Spanish 2.0 PCM Uncompressed 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen 
Director: Alain Deruelle / Jess Franco
Cast: Robert Foster, Pamela Stanford, Burt Altman / Ursula Fellner, Al Cliver, Robert Foster, Gisela Hahn


There are awful b-movies and then theres Alain Deruelle's Cannibal Terror, a French/Spanish co-production that is just mind-numbingly dumb from start to finish, with a minimal plot that involves a pair of kidnappers and a kind hearted whore who abduct the adolescent daughter of a wealthy couple. Afterward they head for the jungle with the kid while they wait for the ransom, but wouldn't you just know it... their headed for cannibal country!

The movie is straight-up horrible beginning with a cast of truly wooden stiffs. At least one of which, actress Sylvia Solar, being kind enough to bare her ample bosom on more than one occasion, enough to spice it up a bit but not enough to save it from trash cinema Armageddon. There's a rope bondage rape scene that is a thing of true b-movie bullshit, a scenario so traumatic the victim finds herself dancing topless in the very next scene in front of the man who raped her just moments ago, standard b-movie logic.

The stand-ins for the "cannibals" are pale-skinned actors with moustaches and lamb-chops, their faces are painted with dayglow grease paint leaving them looking more like Ziggy Stardust rejects than the flesh-hungry cannibals they're meant to be. Some of whom are very obviously laughing through the more "gruesome" gut-munching scenes, if you look closely several of the young child actors playing cannibals can be seen wearing tennis shoes, yup, it's that sort of production, a Eurocine cheapie for sure.
The gut-munching is like most everything else in the movie, horrible, with too few scenes of pale-skinned cannibals tearing away a pig intestines, it's amusing stuff, but this falls rather short of rivaling Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox, in fact, this falls short of being as on par with those nineties era Bruno Mattei cannibal movies. Adding annoyance to injury is an awful score that at times feels like an epileptic organist scored it, and with a sound design that loops in a cycle of bird, duck and hissing reptile noises ad nauseum. This is pretty cheap and mighty awful and by several measures one of the worst cannibal movies I have suffered through yet, plodding along painfully with way too many scenes of walking through the jungle, this is the Lord of the Rings of cannibal films in that respect. 

Special Features:
- The Way Of All Flesh – Interview With Director Alain Deruelle in French with English Subtitles (3 Mins) HD
- Spicy Deleted Scene (2 Mins) HD
-Theatrical Trailer (3 Mins) HD

Onto the second feature on this disc I must say that I expected a bit more coming from Eurocult pioneer Jess Franco, a director who can be a bit odd, but who has made more than a handful of movies I dig quite a bit, usually of the erotic variety. Cannibalism is a genre he did not dabble in very often from what I can see, and unfortunately I can see why, but just to put it into perspective this is nowhere near as brain-burning awful as the first half of this double bill, Cannibal Terror.
This time out we again have another kidnap gone wrong scenario, when actress Laura Crawford (Ursula Buchfellner, Hellhole Women, a.k.a. Sadomania) is whisked away by thugs into the South American jungle. There they encounter a tribe who are not so much cannibals themselves as they are sacrificing victims to a nude, bug-eyed, cannibal God who stalks the jungle in search of naked prey, natch.

Peter (Al Cliver, The Beyond) is hired by the movie studio to recover the kidnapped starlet and heads into the jungle to do just that... and there you have the whole movie in a nutshell. This time out the native people are slightly more realistic in appearance than in Cannibal Terror, but not less stereotyped and exploited by Franco for his own movie. There's plenty of blond eye candy by way of a mostly nude Ursula Buchfellner and loads of dancing ebony-skinned natives, Franco's a bit out of his element here but ticks to what he knows, naked people and weird scenarios.

Franco manages to squeeze a watchable movie out of this one with some decent cheapie production value and some much appreciated nudity, but falls woefully short of the seminal Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, but it does manage to be trashy fun that is at least competently made, which is more than I can say about Cannibal Terror.

Special Features:
- Sexo Canibal – Interview With Director Jess Franco (17 Mins) HD
- Spirit Of The B Hive – Interview With Actor Bertrand Altman (11 Mins) HD
Audio/Video: Severin have done a fine job of bringing these trashy cannibal terrors to Blu-ray with new HD transfers, they appear properly polished without having been overly manipulated, while the source material limits just how good these are gonna look in HD they do a damn fine job, all things considered. Audio comes by way of both English and Spanish uncompressed PCM 2.0 Mono with no subtitle option available for either version. The Blu-ray errantly lists the audio options as English and French, while I may have flunked both French and Spanish back in my school days the track certainly didn't sound French to me.

Extras for Cannibal Terror are a deleted scene with some more nudity, a 20-minute interview with director Alain Deruelle and trailer for the movie. Extras for Devil Hunter include a fun interview with the typically chain-smoking director as he discusses cannibal movies and how he doesn't care for them, speaking a bit about Ruggero Deodato's iconic cannibal movie and discussing a few of the actresses on the movie. There's also an interview with actor/stuntman Bertrand Altman who speaks about transitioning from stuntman to actor, and his experience on this movie and others.

While I do think these are some of the worst cannibal movies I have seen to date I do applaud Severin Films for putting them together on a reasonably priced double feature disc with some decent extras. If bad cinema gives you a chubby you best get out the Kleenex, it's gonna be a sticky night.  2/5

Saturday, February 25, 2017



Label: Full Moon Entertainment
Region Code: Region-FREE NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 79 Minutes.
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Martine Flety, Sarah Strasberg, Pamela Stanford, Olivier Mathot

Synopsis: A lonely aristocrat Miss Gray has a twin sister who's in an asylum. They share a strange bond. Miss Gray is rational but frigid while her sister is insane yet feels sexual pleasure for both of them. Soon, a female reporter arrives at the mansion - Miss Gray possesses vampire like qualities and lives alone when new reporter comes to do a story on her. It appears Doriana needs to suck the life out of various men and women - in a sexual way, in order to stay young. However, she gets no sexual feelings or pleasure out of it. Those ‘feelings’ go to her TWIN sister who is locked up in an asylum. There she goes through various sexual ‘violent and sexual fits’ whenever Doriana is pleasing and killing.
In this erotic death-obsessed slice of Euro cult we have Jess Franco muse Lina Romay (The Hot Nights of Linda) starring in a dual role, first as the somewhat frigid aristocrat Lady Doriana Gray who lives alone in her sprawling seaside mansion, keeping to herself and cursed with the inability to feel sexual pleasure, oh no. On the flipside we have her nymphomaniac twin sister (also played by Romay) who's been cloistered away in an asylum from a very early age, a woman consumed by passion and carnal delights, she's in a state of constant orgasmic arousal while locked away in her room where she cannot help but diddle herself, preferably while being watched by the asylum staff. It is explained through narration that the two women were born Siamese twins and were separated at a young age, during the surgical procedure a shared nerve was damaged, thus devoiding one of pleasure, while wholly consuming the other with lust, with a lasting psychic bond between them.

Lady Doriana keeps to herself at her mansion until one day a journalist (Monica Swinn, The Duke of Burgundy) arrives at her mansion hoping to secure an interview with the liberated woman for a tabloid magazine article, the recluse is reluctant at first but eventually opens up to the woman, revealing her preference for women and her inability to experience sexual pleasure, in addition to a strange side effect of her pleasureless love, it seems to kill her lovers, which while not really explained in full, the movie sort of hints at some weird vampyric angle, which enables Lady Gray to maintain her youthful visage by draining the sexual essence of her lovers. We also learn that her twin sister experiences all the pleasures of sex that she cannot, which seems to have contributed to her sister's madness.
At this time in the 70s Lina Romay was in her prime, a sexual nymph of the highest order, the epitome of cinematic lust, with those big sultry eyes, and there's something about her mouth, the way her lips frame her teeth, the way she licks her lips, she always manages to do a number on me, damn. She portrays Lady Doriana with some appropriate restraint, she has a aristocratic air about her, but she's still a knock-out, wandering her mansion in little more than a sheer pink gown that only thinly veils her voluptuous assets, the movie certainly plays to her physical strengths. Romay plays the nymphomaniac sister with an animalistic sexual abandon, a child-like wild woman who more often than not is rubbing one out in her room at the asylum,  while in the presence of a nurse (Andrea Rigano) and Dr. Orloff. Unable to control her sexual desires she is in a constant state of arousal, wild eyed and orgasmic, screaming with pleasure, maddened by her own uncontrollable, naughty impulses.

Lina Romay and pretty much everyone else struggles with the awkward dialogue, which is not helped by a poor English dub, particularly the over-tanned Peggy Markoff (Barbed Wire Dolls) who seduces Lady Gray early on in the movie. I sniggered a bit when her super-trashy character says things like "I'm going to make you cum", and "now I'm going to show you how horny I can make you", but the sex is pretty damn hot, even if the close-ups get in the way at times, there's only so much close-cropped glistening clit-licking I need to see, you know. At times I wasn't sure if there was a hair on the camera lens or if it was just more fuzzy 70s muff, but guess what, it was always just the fuzzy 70s muff, haha. Also getting in on the sex-action is Lady Doriana's man-servant Ziros (Raymond Hardy, Women Behind Bars) and his cute blond lady friend (Martine Stedil, Swedish Nympho Slaves), who was very easy on the eyes.

For his part director Jess Franco is both directing and doing the camerawork on this one himself, while I think it lacks when compared to the early 70s work we saw for Franco from cinematographer Manuel Merino (Vampyros LesbosShe Killed in Ecstasy) the movie is nicely framed and makes nice use of the value-added scenic mansion and the gorgeous women, particularly Romay who is pure eye-candy. Franco lays on a heavy veneer of voyeuristic shots of sapphic love and hardcore sex, this one goes beyond an r-rating with numerous scenes of straight up sex of both the woman-on-woman and man-on-woman variety, including scenes of full-on penetration and Romay with a mouthful of uncircumcised cock, so cum into this one knowing what you are getting yourself into. As stated before Franco goes in for maybe a few too many extreme zoom-ins for my tastes but I like the surreal atmosphere the Spanish auteur conjures this time around, and this is just so Lina Romay-centric that I cannot help but love it.

Audio/Video:Marquise de sade (1976) arrives on DVD from Full Moon Entertainment as part seven of their ten-part Jess Franco Collection series, of which the spines form a portrait of Franco, which is cool, but look a bit awkward on the shelf as part of an incomplete collection with no large title on the spine. The movie is known by several other titles in various regions, these include Die Marquise von Sade (which is what the title card reads for this release) The 1,000 Shades of Doriana Grey, Doriana Gray and The Portrait of Doriana Gray.

The movie is framed in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and looks very nice, there are some slight DVD compression issues, the grain is not as finely resolved as I would like, but it is sourced from a very nice print with very minimal print damage,a few specks and slight scratches can be seen. Audio on the disc includes both English and French Dolby Digital 2.0, there are no subtitle options. The dubbed English track is a bit boxy at times with some occasional hiss, but for the most part this is a solid track, and has more depth that the French audio option. The movie also benefits from cool sitar-tinged score from composer Walter Baumgartner (Barbed Wire Dolls).

Extras on the disc are slim, but appreciated. These include about 12 minutes of interviews with producer Erwin C. Dietrich, director Jess Franco and star Lina Romay, plus a Jess Franco trailer reel with full frame trailers for Oasis of the Zombies, Demoniac, A Virgin Among the Living Dead, The Screaming Dead, Erotikill, and The Invisible Dead.

Special Feature:
- Interview with Producer Erwin C. Dietrich, Director Jess Franco and Star Lina Romay (12 Mins)
- Vintage Jess Franco VHS Trailers(7 mins)

Jess Franco's Marquise De Sade (1976) is a hot little number that straddles and crosses the line between hardcore sex-film and just another slice of Franco Eurocult from the 70s. While not the most opulent of Franco's 70s films, it is stylish and surreal, with a minimal story and loads of voyeuristic sex. If you're a hardcore Franco fanatic this will be fun watch with the usual amounts of surreal erotic artiness, but for everyone else this might be some rough stuff, a bt too light on the hardcore sex for the porno freaks and a bit too much sex for the Eurocult fans who have not been consumed by Franco's brand of sleaze, sex and death euro-cult cinema, definitely an acquired taste, but one that once you develop a taste for will require frequent revisits. Would love to see a Region A Blu-ray, I know there's a German Blu-ray out there, but this slice of naughtiness is in need of a serious HD upgrade here in the US, but for now this uncut release from Full Moon will do just fine. 

FRANCO FEBRUARY! 99 WOMEN (1969) (Blu-ray Review)

99 WOMEN (1969)
3-Disc Unrated Director's Cut 

Label: Blue Underground
Region Code: Region FREE
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA MA 1.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Maria Schell, Mercedes McCambridge, Maria Rohm, Rosalba Neri, Herbert Lom

Strap yourself in for a raucous mix of eurocult sexploitation and filthy WIP action with the yet another Jess Franco/Harry Alan Towers team-up! This time around we are watching 99 Women (1969), wherein a new female inmate Marie (Maria Rohm, Eugenie ...the Story of Her Journey into Perversion) arrives at the infamous "Castle of Death" island women for prison, a grim place ruled with an iron fist by the wicked prison warden Thelma Diaz (Mercedes McCambridge, The Exorcist), a cruel woman who strips the women of their names and gives them a number, poor blond Maria (Rohm) becoming number "98". 

We find out that Maria was convicted and sent to the island prison for killing one of her rapists, how dare she, right? She arrives at the island via boat alongside a prostitute named Helga (Elisa Montes, The Girl From Rio) and a drug addict in withdrawal named Natalie (Luciana Paluzzi,Thunderball), though poor Natalie is not around for too very long, dying within minutes of the start of the movie. When nice girl Maria calls on the guards for help to assist the dying woman she is punished for her troubles by the Warden who locks her away in a secluded cell with rapey-lesbian named Zoie (a very sexy Rosalba Neri, The French Sex Murders) who forces herself on Maria. Afterward she is pimped out to the corrupt official, Governor Santos (Herbert Lom, Mark of the Devil). It turns out that the Warden has been treating Santos to a steady supply of the more attractive female inmates for his own sexual delights. It just wouldn't be a WIP movie without the rape, torture and cruelty of the women behind bars, and Franco is only too happy to oblige in all department with his usual array of kinky perversity and zoom-in auteurism. However, this arrangement in threatened when do-gooder prison administrator Leonie (Maria Schell, The Bloody Judge) arrives to investigate the recent string of inmate deaths, the most recent being the drug-addict Natalie. She is appalled by the conditions at the prison after witnessing the humiliation and abuses suffered by the women, including that of Maria whom she takes a liking too. Of course, the wicked warden and naughty governor are none happy with her idea of reformation, but it seems that the reforms have come too late, and a daring escape through the jungle is hatched by Maria and the other women who are fed up with the abuse.

Maria Rohm gives a good dramatic performance in a movie with no shortage of attractive women, all of whom are used and abused by the corrupt warden. The usual WIP tropes apply here with plenty of nude women, a bit of woman on woman love/rape, a couple of cat fights, and the tropical air is thick with jailer-corruption, but it's all in good fun. To be honest the movie is not all that brutal when compared to what would follow in the coming years, but it is a seedy slice of Franco-directed WIP that is hard to forget, particularly for the troubling sexual politics/crimes perpetrated on poor Maria, who is forcibly raped by an fellow woman inmate, only to succumb to her own lust as she begins to enjoy the rape! Peckinpah (Straw Dogs) would be proud, haha.  As a slice of WIP you sort of have to expect these sort of troubling and improbable male fantasies, right? The movie is visually pleasing on all fronts with some great set decoration and tropical locations with some nice Franco lensing, including a nightmare of the rape Maria endured, the one which sent her to prison for murder, and it has a nice arthouse voyeuristic quality to it, well done Mr. Franco.

While this must have been some of the worst filth to find its way into the cinema in 1969 I will say that 99 Women doesn't have a whole lot of shock value these days, it seems quite tame compared to some of the '80s WIP flicks, but the draw for me is the allure of Jess Franco's brand of delirious exploitation, and this was notably his first foray behind bars, but it would certainly not be his last, or even his best. Also pushing this movie along are the performances of Lom and McCambridge as the corrupt prison officials, Lom is sort of quietly corrupt with a stately demeanor, but McCambridge really gets to camp it up here as the authoritarian jailer, she gives a wonderfully wicked performance that made the movie for me and keeps me coming back time and time again.

Audio/Video: 99 Women (1969) arrives on Blu-ray with a fresh 4K scan from the original negative and colors are lush and nicely saturated, skin tones look natural and the black levels are decent. Unfortunately the image looks like it has been treated to a massive dose of digital noise reduction, wiping away trace amounts of grain and smearing away fine detail, leaving behind a waxy and plasticine image that takes away from the viewing experience, which for some will be a deal-breaker. Audio on the disc comes by way of a DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0 track which sounds damn good, dialogue is crisp and clean, no issues with hiss or distortion. Notably, the cool Bruno Nicolai score comes through strong with some decent depth, even that annoying pop/theme song, optional English subtitles are provided.

Onto packaging and extras we have three discs housed within a clear Criterion-style keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork plus a 20-page collector's booklet with cast and crew info, CD track listing and chapter selection plus writing on the film from noted author Stephen Thrower adapted from his book  Murderous Passions: The - Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco, which is a great read, no one writes about Franco with such intelligent passion as Thrower. 

Onto the discs, we have a DVD and Blu-ray with the same feature and extras, plus a third disc, a CD with the Bruno Nicolai score, licensed from Beat Records. Special features begin with a 2005 interview with Jess Franco who speaks about the production, cast and his collaboration with producer Harry Alan Tower, this is a carry over from the previous BU DVD release. New is a 16-minute interview with author Stephen Thrower who speaks about the film within the context of Franco's body of work, commenting the director's collaboration with the notorious producer who would apparently wine and dine the big name stars of the movies at the expense of the shooting budget! There's also a selection of three deleted scenes, including an extended rape scene and two other scenes sources from inferior VHS sources which don't add up to much. Finishing up the extras there's a poster and still gallery, the salacious original trailer, the collector's booklet and CD soundtrack.  

Special Features: 
- Jess' Women - 2005 Interview with Director Jess Franco (17 Min) HD
- Jess, Harry and 99 WOMEN - Interview with Stephen Thrower, author of "Murderous Passions: The - Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco" (16 Mins) HD
- Deleted & Alternate Scenes (23 Min)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Min) HD
- Poster & Still Gallery (70 Images) HD
- Collectable Booklet includes writing by author Stephen Thrower
- 99 WOMEN Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Bruno Nicolai (27 Tracks)

A prime slice of Jess Franco WIP on Blu-ray from Blue Underground, this one slightly marred slightly by the unfortunate digital clean-up, but if you're a Franco-phile and enjoy his collaborations with the notorious producer Harry Alan Towers you're probably still gonna want to own this one. If you're a next-level perv Blue Underground have also released a 3-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray containing the same extras and the director's cut, plus the notorious 98-minute French Version with hardcore sex inserts not shot by Jess Franco, which doesn't interest me. 3.5/5 


3-Disc Limited Edition BD/DBD/CD

Label: Blue Underground
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 87 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD Mono, Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Marie Liljedahl, Maria Rohm, Jack Taylor, Christopher Lee, Paul Muller

Synopsis: Marie Liljedahl (the luscious star of Inga) is Eugenie, an innocent young woman taken to an island paradise where she is initiated into a world of pleasure and pain controlled by the sinister Dolmance (the legendary Christopher Lee). But when she surrenders to her own forbidden fantasies, Eugenie becomes trapped in a frenzy of drugs, sadomasochism and murder. Can a frightened girl in the grip of carnal perversion find sanctuary in the orgies of the depraved?

A young woman named Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl) becomes an unwilling pawn in a soul-maddening game of sexual corruption when the sultry Marianne Saint-Ange (Maria Rohm) seduces the young woman's father, somehow convincing him to let the young girl spend a weekend on her private island for some fun and games. Marianne also invites her creepy half-brother Mirvel (Jack Taylor) to the island for the arousing weekend, and together the pair of pleasure and pain crazed siblings set about drugging and corrupting the young girl.

Eugenie is essentially a movie about the diabolical corruption of a young woman by two demented and incestuous siblings. They set about drugging her with drug-laced wine and having their way with her in a myriad of way. Afterward they re dress her and when she awakens she's confused and unknowingly used. Eugenie is so out of her mind on drugs that she believes the half-remembered orgies may have just been a bad wine-induced dream, but little does she realize. By the end of the movie she becomes entangled in sadomasochistic orgies and murder, with a shocker multi-twist finale that might leave your head spinning in the aftermath of this erotic tale of corruption.

The early '70s were a great period of cinema for director Jess Franco, who at the time was just coming off the adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's Justine, the modern era sits well with the somewhat difficult sexual-deviancy of the material, though this adaptation also softens the blow of the source material, which is rather shocking even to this day. The production is lavish and the locations are pretty fantastic, the island location is something Franco would return to again and again in later movies, from She Killed In Ecstasy to Countess Perverse. As with may of his seventies movies the lensing is top-notch, gorgeous shots of the coastline and beaches surrounding Marianne's lavish island paradise are eye-catching with some great lensing and shot composition, with one awful exception. I couldn't ignore the numerous shots that were slightly out of focus, making me feel like my eyes were failing me. Some say that these focus-challenged shots are a device meant to convey the surreal, drugged-up state of mind of young Eugenie, but I that's a crock of shit, this is just not properly focused, and if you've watched any number of Franco movie yo know that this happens from time to time. It did begin to wear on me after awhile but I must say that in the long run the movie is so well shot that it's not ruinous to the movie overall, this is still a fantastic slice of '70s art house sleaze from Franco with a very cool exotic jazz score from Bruno Nicolai.
The cast is superb, we have the young and attractive Marie Liljedahl as the wide-eyed Eugenie, she's coming of age, sexually charged and a bit doe-eyed, but in a good way, not like Romina Power in Justine with her vacant expressions. Liljedahl has more range and nuance in her role, but she always comes through as a corrupted innocent, not a sex-kitten playing an innocent. Maria Rohm is fantastic as the gorgeously deviant Marianne Saint-Ange, she is detestable but she's so damn sexy, I wouldn't mind it if she corrupted me, as long as she kept her creepy brother out of it. Speaking of whom, we Eurocult star Jack Taylor as the half-brother of Marianne, a suitably creepy and deviant portrayal, Taylor always brings some heat to any of his roles. Horror icon Christopher Lee drops in for an extended cameo as the on-screen narrator Dolmance, of course adding a touch of class to the otherwise devious movie.

Audio/Video: Eugenie ...the Story of Her Journey into Perversion (1970) arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground with a brand-new 4K HD restoration, though watching it again I see now that it is marred by some aggressive DNR scrubbing. On the plus side the image has a nice clarity about it, and colors are robust. Skin tones appear natural with just the right amount of sensual warmth, the movie also uses colored-tinted scenes bathed in red and they look great. The English DTS-HD Mono 1.0 audio is crisp and clean, the English-dubbed dialog and Bruno Nicolai's haunting exotic score come through nicely, optional English SDH subtitles are provided.

Onto the extras we get 17-minute Perversion Stories extra carried over from the 2004 Blue Underground DVD featuring Interviews with Director Jess Franco, Producer Harry Alan Towers, and Stars Marie Liljedahl and Christopher Lee who speak about the making of the movie. Franco discusses the casting of the movie, and working with Christopher Lee, and a few of the locations used in the movie. Actress Marie Liljedahl also speaks about accepting the role, figuring that if Lee was on board it must be alright, while Lee for his part says he had no idea of the erotic nature of the movie, which I find a little hard to swallow.

There's also a 18-minute interview with Stephen Thrower, author of "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco", who again speaks about the various differences between the source material and the adaptation that appears on screen, not the least of which would be the contemporary setting, pointing out that Eugenie is toned down quite a bit, coming off a bit more like Sade's Justine than Eugenie. As with the Justine release from Blue Underground there's also writing on the film from Thrower adapted from his book "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco", featuring promotional images and poster art, a CD track listing, chapter selection, and production credits for the movie.  Additionally there's a DVD featuring the movie with the same set of extras and a bonus CD of Bruno Nicolai's exotic lounge score, and a sleeve of reversible artwork featuring the original 2004 Blue Underground DVD artwork and an alternate artwork option.

Special Features:
- Perversion Stories - Interviews with Director Jess Franco, Producer Harry Alan Towers, and Stars Marie Liljedahl and Christopher Lee (17 min)
- Stephen Thrower on EUGENIE - Interview with the author of "Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco" (18 min) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD
- Poster and Still Gallery (123 Images) HD
- 20-Page Collectible Booklet includes writing by author Stephen Thrower
- Eugenie Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Bruno Nicolai (19 Songs, 55 min)

This just might be a top five Franco movie for me, a nice blend of art house erotica and lurid exploitation, Franco was a master of both and rarely did they come together in such a delirious and woozy way on screen, this is primo Franco. If you're a Franco-phile this is a serious no brainer, you need to own this. 4/5

Friday, February 24, 2017



Label: Dorado Films 

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 Minutes / 81 Minutes 
Video: 1080p HD Full Screen (1.33:1) / Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Audio: Spanish Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 with Optional English, Italian, and Spanish Subtitles
Director: Jess Franco 
Cast: Montserrat Prous, Albert Dalbés, Glenda Allen, Mario Alex / Montserrat Prous, William Berger, Robert Woods,  Edmund Purdom


When movie star Annette (Glenda Allen, TV's Space: 1999) invites her Hollywood friends to her isolated island home for a weekend getaway they get more than the expected 70s loving, drinking and dancing, the weekend quickly devolves into a whirlwind of kidnapping, murder and weirdness. 

We're introduced to Annette's weird sister, the suspicious Valerie (Montserrat Prous, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff) who lives on the island where she cares for the movie stars young son Christian. No sooner has Annette arrived on the island with her movie making friends when we are treated to some sinister voice-over narration from Valerie, who hates her sister, wishing her dead, and loathes \ her Hollywood type friends, which include a lawyer-lover Vincent (Mario Álex, School of Death), former lover and Christian's father Jean-Paul (Francisco Acosta, Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac), movie producer Jerome (Luis Induni, Night of the Howling Beast) photographer Vera (Yelena Samarina, Murder Mansion), and Annette's personal bodyguard Juan (Alberto Dalbes, Cut-Throats Nine)  

Thing begin to go awry when Valerie overhears Annette, her lover and the boy's father arguing about who Christian should live with, which angers Valerie, who threatens Annette. Later that night the boy is kidnapped by someone who demands a large ransom through a note left next to the boy's bloodied bed. Soon after Annette's guests begin to be killed off in a very Ten Little Indians sort of way. The guests cannot escape the island as the only transport to the mainland has been blown up with one of the guest's aboard, and with no other boat coming till Monday. The kidnapping-murderer must be one of the guests, or perhaps the increasingly erratic sister, or maybe the suspicious housekeeper Laura (Kali Hansa, Countess Perverse) or the caretaker Pongo (Manuel Pereiro, Satan's Blood). 

Franco's love for Mediterranean island locations is in full swing, however, the lurid eroticism is toned way down, and the story is a fairly linear one, a psychological murder mystery along the lines of an Agatha Christie story, though it is actually adapted from a novel by author Enrique Jarber. The film has some decent lensing from cinematographer Javier Pérez Zofio (Franco's Night of the Assassins) who also did some second unit on the Agatha Christie adaptation Ten Little Indians(1974). There's also a cool jazzy score from Jess Franco himself plus contributions from composer Fernando García Morcillo (The Cannibal Man).  

Montserrat Prous as Valerie really anchored the film for me, I love her wide-eyes, she doesn't have the sexual allure of later Franco muses Soledad Miranda or Lina Romay, but she does cast her own spell with those deep, mysterious eyes, and an unhinged performance  with with the weird voice-over narration. She makes for an easy suspect early on, but when the bodies begin to pile-up Valerie winds up with a double-barrell shotgun in hand and is a total badass at the end. 

Franco manages to muster up some great atmosphere towards the end with Prouse wandering through the darkened island house with a gas lantern in one hand and the shotgun in the other, casting shadows and expecting danger around every corner, ready for just about anything, except maybe that shocker-twist of an ending, which is nutso.  


In Jess Franco's The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973) Melissa Comfort (Montserrat Prous, Diary of a Nymphomaniac) is a young woman who is without the use of her legs since childbirth. Nightly she is haunted by nightmares of her father's mysterious death years earlier. In the horrific recurring dream her father (played by Franco himself) stumbles to her and drips blood onto her nightgown, she awakens terrified and screaming. Melissa lives with her conniving step sister Martha (Loreta Tovar, The Night of the Sorcerers), her aunt Flora (Kali Hansa, Countess Perverse), a loyal butler Mathews (Jose Manuel Martin, Curse of the Devil). 

The family calls in a psychiatrist friend of the family, the titular and sinister Dr. Orloff, played by the steely eyed William Berger (from Mario Bava's Five Dolls for An August Moon). However, it turns out that Dr. Orloff and members of her family are conspiring against the wheelchair bound invalid, his diabolical plan involves using drugs and hypnosis to coerce Melissa to violently murder the other members of her family. In a weird twist Melissa is able to walk, but only under the post-hypnotic commands of Orloff. 

I think Berger is fantastic in the role as the evil master of hypnotism, this is definitely his show, he steals nearly every scene in the film in my opinion. A suspicious folk-singer neighbor alerts Inspector Crosby (Edmund Purdom, Pieces) that something just ain't right over at the Comfort house, but will it work in her favor? 

I remember watching this movie the first time, I had to double check and be sure this was a legit Jess Franco film as it was a nearly bloodless affair with only a hint of nudity, not what I'd come to expect from the master of Euro sleaze at that point. However, the film is pushed along by some good psychological horror elements and atmosphere which was enhanced by a haunting score composed by Franco himself. Spoilers, my favorite scenario in the film has the butler Matthews whisking Melissa away to safety in the trunk of a car after overhearing the conspiracy against her, only to be murdered by Melissa (under the hypnotic command of Dr. Orloff)on a misty road. 

I didn't love this one, it was my first disappointment from Franco when I first watched, but certainly not the last, they guy made over 200 films, and they vary in quality from film to film, era to era, ad from producer to producer. Orloff was a recurring character in Franco films, and sadly lovely Lina Romay (The Hot Nights of Linda) appears only briefly, which was a serious let down for me. The movie is slow paced, but it picks up towards the end, it has some decent visuals but largely lacks the visceral erotic flavorings I crave when watching a Franco film, this one is for the Franc0 lovers and completest only I think. The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973) is not the stuff of euro sleaze legend but it is a tasty slice of 70's Spanish psycho-sleaze featuring a mesmerizing performance from William Berger as the evil hypnotist. 

Audio/Video: The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973) was previously released on DVD from distributor Intervision a few years ago. Sourced from a 1" tape it was a soft, smeary VHS quality image that left a lot to be desired. Thankfully, here comes Dorado Films, who I knew in the past for DVD releases of euro-spy films (Mission Bloody Mary) and spaghetti westerns (The Three Musketeers of the West), this is their first foray into Blu-ray, pairing up two slice of early 70's Franco-philia. Both films are sourced from 35mm theatrical prints, and scanned in 4K. The boost in quality for sinister eyes is clearly evident, detail, clarity and colors are richer, but the print is well-worn with loads of white speckling and some print damage and fading, but this is a step-up in every way, but come to it with lowered expectations, the elements were not in the best shape.

The Silence of the Tomb(1972) is making it's digital home video debut with this release. It is also sourced from a 35mm theatrical print, but nicely framed in the scope widescreen (2.35:1) aspect ratio. It looks overly bright and a bit washed out in places, softer than the full frame Sinister Eyes, also sporting some print damage and celluloid wear, but still very watchable and treat to see in HD.

Both films feature lossy Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with optional English, Spanish and Italian subtitles. There's some minor audio distortion but overall a solid, though lossy, audio presentation.

Extras on the disc include 24-min of movie trailers for possible upcoming releases from Dorado Films, a 15-min chat with ageing actor Robert Woods (The Sinister eyes of Dr. Orloff) who speaks about the collaborative European style of movie making in the 70s, working with Franco, the audio syncing process of the time, and being convinced by William Berger and Edmund Purdom to come down to Spain and work with Franco. Woods also touches on how Jess appeared in his films like Hitchcock, and his distaste for his more erotic fare. There are also script pages which include an alternate ending for the movie. Additionally there's a 2-page booklet with writing on the film from  Alex Mendibil. There's also an Ultimate edition of this release from Dorado Films with alternate artwork and a 24-page collector's booklet, but the on disc  extras are exactly the same.


Special Features:
- Video Chat With Robert Woods (15 min) HD 
- Script of Original Ending for Silence of the Tomb
- Trailer: El Asesino No Está Solo (4 min) HD, Camino Solitario (6 min) HD, The Counselor (4 min) HD, Crimes of The Black Cat (4 min) DH, Horrible sexy Vampire (3 min) HD, Knife of Ice (3 min) HD 
- Collector's Booklet with writing by Alex Mendibil 

This is a nice Jess Franco/Montserrat Prous double-feature from Dorado Films, both films look reasonably solid in 1080pHD, with the previously issued The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff looking significantly better than the previous DVD release from Intervision. Franco-philes should be very pleased with this double-feature, a must-have for their collection, looking forward to Vol. 2 of the Jess Franco Forgotten Films, which will be Jess Franco's Camino Solitario (1984) along one of the three following titles: Las Chicas del Tanga (1987), ¿Cuánto Cobra un Espía?(1984) or Dirty Game in Casablanca (1985). 3/5   

Thursday, February 23, 2017

FRANCO FEBRUARY! BLOODY MOON (1981) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Severin Films
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 81 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM Mono 2.0
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Olivia Pascal, Christoph Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Alexander Waechter, María Rubio

Euro-trash pioneer Jess Franco's Video Nasty entry Bloody Moon (1981) is stuffed with all the depravity you've come to expect with from the director and a bunch of gore you might not associate with the trashy Spanish auteur. We start off at a disco-pool party where the facially scarred Miguel (Alexander Waechter) puts on a Mickey Mouse mask and pursues a young woman who quickly invites him back to her place for some fun and fornication. Things heat-up but when it's revealed that Miguel is not who she thought he was she freaks out and the encounter ends with her being bloodily scissored repeatedly in the stomach. 

Five year later Miguel has served his time at the asylum for the criminally insane following the murder of the young woman and is released into the custody of his sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff). The siblings return to the language school run by their Aunt Countess Maria, where almost immediately a string of grisly murders start-up. The first victim is the aunt who is burned to death with a torch - it's not the greatest kill in cinema history, but it does spark quite a run of murders for the remainder of the film, each a bit more grisly than the last, atypical for a Franc film, but a lot of fun for slasher fans. 

Franco does manage to stir-up some decent suspense in what amounts to an absurd slasher whodunit wrapped in a nice sleazy gauze of eurocult goodness. We wonder, could it be the creepy Miguel up to his old ways, or perhaps could it be one of the numerous red-herrings dangled before us, you just can't be sure until the dizzying wrap-up, which is warped.

Bloody Moon is stocked with a decent amount of (annoying) fun characters, beginning with siblings Miguel and Manuela who have a bit of an incestuous dynamic about them... it is after all a Jess Franco film. Our main protagonist is Angela (Olivia Pascal, Vanessa) as one of the students and her small group of often topless friends. Angela's friends are dying off one by one but when the corpses conveniently disappear no one believes her. The English-dubbing of the students is an unintentionally hilarious succession of priceless dialogue about sex and phony Spanish lovers, that alongside the oftentimes dubious special effects definitely give this slasher a corny charm not unlike the classic blood-fest Pieces (1982) -- which I just love it to death, that one only gets better with age.

Franco manages to fill the screen with mostly memorable death set pieces with a few perverse twists. One of Angela's friends is stabbed from behind with the blade exiting her nipple, but the Euro-cult slasher is most infamous for a delightful stone mill power saw decapitation observed by a young boy who attempts to come to the rescue of the victim only to be rundown in a car for his troubles - the death of young children is always startling - even if the effect itself is sub par, it is still loads of fun, die kid! One quibble with the film is the all-too-real death of a snake with hedge-clippers. The scene serves absolutely no purpose and could have been achieved without the unnecessary death of a creature - even if it is just a snake. It's one of several jump-scares throughout the film along with a flung-cat and a paper-mache boulder - none of which serve a purpose other than some cheap scares. The plot is certainly paper-thin but as a body count whodunit with a decent shocker ending this is a pretty damn fine film, it doesn't feel like a Franco film, at least not one from the 70s, bt I love the slasher-y goodness of it, this is good stuff.

Bloody Moon (19981) arrives on Bu-ray from Severin Films with a new HD transfer sourced from a German print under the title DIE SAGE DES TODES. There's a minor bit of print damage and the gore shots sourced from inferior elements are obvious but overall this is a solid presentation with strong colors and black levels with a fine layer of film grain and some modest depth. The priceless English-dubbed dialogue, effects and score are handled nicely by the LPCM 2.0 Mono audio.

Extras on the disc include a theatrical trailer and a fun interview with the aged chain-smoking director who speaks about the empty promises of producers who spoke of a Pink Floyd score, a notable special effects guy and cinematographer all of which were lies. He bashes the score but I sort of liked it - there's a recurring guitar part that does sort of sound like a lifted Pink Floyd lick but it's on repeat for the duration of the film and is hammered into the ground.

A fun slasher entry from Eurosleaze provocateur Jess Franco who did not often stray into gore effects driven slashers. What we end up with is a trashy piece of slasher cinema stuffed with nudity, skewered women and corny dubbed dialogue which adds up to a wildly entertaining watch. Bloody (1981) is a definite recommend for lovers of 80s slasher cinema and Jess Franco completest.  4/5

Tuesday, February 21, 2017



Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS- HD MA Mono 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Full Screen (1.33:1)
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski, Herbert Lom, Soledad Miranda, Maria Rohm, Paul Muller, Fred Williams

The late horror legend Christopher Lee (Dracula: Prince of Darkness) had taken a years long break from portraying the bloodthirsty vampire he made famous with Hammer Films, but when he was approached by Spanish director Jess Franco to make a vampire movie that more closely followed the original Bram Stoker novel, he came back to the role. Franco, along with infamous producer Harry Alan Towers, assembled quite a cast and brought us a memorable adaptation indeed, though largely devoid of Franco's signature eroticism and surreal visuals. We find Jonathan Harker (Fred Williams, She Killed In Ecstasy) travelling to the castle of Count Dracula in Transylvania to oversee the purchase of a new property in London for the Count. Along the way he is warned by his stage coach driver of the strange goings on at the castle, but he attributes the warning to the usual local superstitions. Once he meets Count Dracula he finds his aged host to be a welcoming sort, that is until after dinner when he finds himself imprisoned within his room, soon to discover that the Count is a bloodsucking vampire with a trio of vampire brides who also want to feast on his blood.

Harker manages to escape through a window and returns to London, recovering from his ordeal at a sanitarium run by Dr. Seward (Franco regular Paul Muller, Vampyros Lesbos), where he also encounters Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Herbert Lom, Mark of the Devil). Harker's lovely fiancee Mina (Maria Rohm, 99 women) visits him at the sanitarium, along with and her sublime friend Lucy (Soledad Miranda, She Killed in Ecstasy), unfortunately both women become entranced by Count Dracula who has since moved to London and into his newly acquired property. Madman Klaus Kinski (Aguirre, the Wrath of God) appears as Renfield, a disturbed patient at the sanitarium, he plays it appropriately unhinged, eating bugs and generally being weird, giving Dwight Fry a run for his money. Kinski makes a damn fine Renfield but I feel he gets a bit short-shrifted and is not onscreen nearly enough for my own tastes, I wanted more of the Kinski!

Harker's wild stories about his trip to Transylvania go largely unheeded by Dr. Seward, a man of science who attributes the weird tales to a disturbed mind. However, his peer Van Helsing is well aware of the legend of Dracula and soon joins forces with Harker and Lucy's boyfriend Quincey (Jack Taylor, Pieces) to face-off against the threat of Dracula, the trio form a vampire hunting alliance against the centuries old bloodsucker. Lee is fantastic as the titular blood-drinker, to the surprise of no one I would expect. A moustached version of the legendary Count appropriately fanged with bloodshot eyes, the aging make-up looks great, the blood drinker becoming more vital and younger as he drains each victim of the red stuff, Lee is a class act through and through.

Herbert Lom as the legendary vampire hunter is wonderful, the man brings a certain amount of gravitas to the every role, even a few of the trashier ones. Fred Williams is quite good in the role of Harker but he does fade a bit into the background when standing in the shadow of Lee and Lom, not to mention a roomful of Franco regulars like Jack Taylor and Paul Muller. Add to that the beauty of Maria Rohm and Soledad Miranda and the poor guy was bound to get lost a bit, which he does, to no fault of his own. Kinski as the wild-eyed Renfield is wonderful as I have said, a fantastic performance from the madman as a bug-eating madman, but I wanted more of him and I found it a bit odd that his own connection to Dracula is a bit obscured in this version of the story.

Shot largely in Spain the exterior shots and scenic wooded locations looks fantastic, Franco makes great use of the Castle location. His work with producer Harry Alan Towels produced some of his best work with his biggest budgets, and this one has a great aesthetic, you can see the production value up on the screen. The story itself does tend to have a certain amount of paciness about it, dragging in certain parts, which is not unusual for a Franco movie by any means, but certainly not enough to derail the production, there's a lot to love about this movie.

As much as I enjoy it there are some things that don't quite work in it's favor, notably a trashy rubber bat on a string that lingers for far too long, it is laughable. Franco-philes who know his body of work will not be surprised by the copious amount of zoom-lensing present in the movie, a choice that doesn't work for the period piece, but the lensing for the most pasrt looks great with nicely framed composition. Perhaps the biggest cinema-beef I have with the film is that we never get any scenes of Lee with either Lom or Kinski together in one shot, their scenes were filmed separately and assembled, what a missed opportunity!

Audio/Video: Severin Films have a reverence for Franco's movies and have gone above and beyond yet again. Count Dracula arrives on Blu-ray framed at the original and correct 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio. The print used for the new HD transfer would seem to be French as evidenced by the French title card. There's a modest amount of improved depth and clarity over the previous standard definition release from Dark Sky Films, but only slightly to be honest. They have restored a missing scene of a mother pleading at the castle gates for the return of her doomed baby, it's sourced from a 16mm print and the drop in quality is noticeable but it is nice to have it back in place. The English language LPCM 2.0 Mono sounds fine, the dialogue is crisp and the Bruno Nicolai (The Case of the Bloody Iris) comes through clean and strong, there are no subtitle options on this release.

Onto the extras Severin have been kind enough to carry over all of the extras from the Dark Sky Films release beginning with the twenty-six minute interview with Director Jess Franco, with a cigarette in hand discussing the film in heavily accented English. Also carried over is the eighty-four minute recording of Christopher Lee reading sections of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula over a music score, the hypnotic reading of the source material is fantastic and quite a treat for Lee and Stoker fans.

Onto the brand-new extras from Severin Films we have a commentary track featuring actress Maria Rohm and moderator David Del Valle. Rohm was married to producer Harry Alan Towers and has unique insight into the making of the movie, sharing some great stories about her experiences on set and behind the scenes making the movie. For his part film historian David Dev Valle does a great job, informative and animated, he keeps the commentary focused and insightful. I just heard his commentary from another 1970 bloodsucker film, Count Yorga, Vampire, he knows his stuff and it makes for a great commentary.

A nice added extra is the inclusion of the Pere Portabella experimental making of doc Cuadecuc, Vampir, shot in black and white and without sync sound, which makes for a somewhat arty behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie with shots of the effects being composed with many of the main cast, with the exception of Klaus Kinski.

There's also a new ten-minute interview with Eurocult legend Jack Taylor (The Ninth Gate), plus a twenty-six minute interview with actor Fred Williams, both discuss their careers with Franco, commenting on Maria Rohm, Harry Alan Towers, Soledad Miranda, and Christopher Lee. Finishing up the extras there's an eight-minute appreciation of the movie by Filmmaker Christophe Gans (The Brotherhood of the Wolf), discussing the movie and offering theories on how Franco and Towers convinced Kinski appear in the movie, there's also a German trailer for the movie plus the German, French, Italian and Spanish Alternate Title Sequences, all in all a well-fanged special edition of the movie.

Special Features:

- Uncut Feature in HD (Includes Controversial Previously Deleted Baby Scene) at Franco’s Approved Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
- Cuadecuc, Vampir (1970): Experimental ‘Making Of’ Feature By Pere Portabella (75 min)
- Audio Commentary with horror historian David Del Valle and Actress Maria Rohm
- Beloved Count Interview with Director Jess Franco (26 
- An Interview With Actor Jack Taylor (10 
- ‘Handsome Harker’ Interview With Actor Fred Williams (26 Mins) HD
- ’Stake Holders’ An Appreciation By Filmmaker Christophe Gans (8 
min) HD
- Christopher Lee Reads Bram Stoker's Dracula (84 
- German, French, Italian and Spanish Alternate Title Sequence (8 
- German Trailer (3 

Jess Franco's Count Dracula (1970) is not a perfect movie, very few of his movies were to be honest, but it does have an atmospheric charm and an outstanding cast, starring none other than the legendary Christopher Lee as the titular blood-drinker, and strong supporting roles from Herbert Lom and Klaus Kinski, plus the sultry curves of lovely ladies Maria Rohm and Soledad Miranda. On top of that we have Franco regulars Paul Muller and Jack Taylor, if you've seen any of Franco's movies from the 70's you will know their faces, if not their names. The movie is dripping with atmosphere, and while it's true that it does get a bit pacey at times and a few of the special effects are awful, for Franco fans and lovers of Eurocult this is a fine time all the way around. 3.5/5