Thursday, February 20, 2020

FRANCO FEBRUARY! NIGHT OF OPEN SEX (1983) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Severin Films

Region Code: Region-FREE 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: Spanish PCM Mono with Optional English Subtitle
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Lorna Green, Albino Graziani, Juana de la Morena, Miguel Ángel, Aristu José Ferro, Jesús Franco, Antonio Rebollo

I am running way late on the Franco February reviews which we've been doing here for a few years now every February, it's not that I am running out of Franco films to discover, there are so dang many, the Spanish purveyor of depraved euro-cult was ridiculously prolific, and I can almost guarantee I will never see them all. What's been the hold-up? Well, let me give you a tiny peek behind the curtains, I have been unemployed for a bit over a month now, so the cash-flow is ebbing, and I'm barely able to cover the bills, so buying movies outside of what we've been sent to review has been put on indefinite hold until I am in a more stable place financially - which will hopefully be soon, fingers crossed! Luckily for me though Franco February was thrown a life-line when the wonderful Severin Films sent over a pair of films Franco made for Golden Films International in the early 80's, so I know we're gonna have at least one more Franco review up very soon! 

Aah, the delirious and erotic cinema of Jess Franco, each film is always a treat, often strange, sometimes awful, but always entertaining! Franco February 2020 begins - so days into the month - with Night of Open Sex (1982), a formerly obscure erotic crime-thriller wherein his usual sex-pot muse Lina Romay (The Hot Nights of Linda) plays Moira, a nightclub sex-performer who at the start of the film is performing an arousing masturbation fantasy on stage using a red convertible sports car as a prop, think of an x-rated version of 80's hair-rockers Whitesnake's "Here I Go again" video. Mere minutes later she and her criminal-element boyfriend are torturing a woman in her apartment seeking information, graphically shoving a hot electric curling iron into the poor woman's vagina, which eventually killing her. This scene is a shocker, by far the most graphic and depraved bit of violence I've seen in a Franco film yet. Before she dies the victim manages to give up the location of planned meeting with her estranged uncle, whom she called the General (Albino Graziani, Diamonds of Kilimandjaro). Moira and her boyfriend don't seem too sure about what the meeting is about but he enlists Romay to disguises herself as the niece, since they bare a passing resemblance, and she meets him. It turns out that he's dying, looking as if he's been shot in the chest. His dying words lead her to a book containing coded messages that will lead to some sort of not-as-yet-identified treasure.

After this Moira is kidnapped from the sex-club by a generic Magnum P.I. looking guy (Antonio Mayans, Devil Hunterin a loud Hawaiian print shirt and macho-stache. He ties her up in bed and presses her for more information about the hidden treasure, when she doesn't seem to know anything he forces himself on her. As can only happen one of Jess Franco's amoral fever-dream films her raping is so satisfying that she decides to partner up with, tracking down the untold treasure, which  - spoiler alert - turns out to be Nazi gold! When the gold is finally revealed it looks like books wrapped in gold foil, not unlike a Wonka Bar to be honest, it's quite schlocky looking.   

The film begins like a Franco fever dream with Romay's character  writhing around the floor is graphic sexual ecstasy, then veers sharply into a vulgar crime film, but then slips into sex-comedy mode, with lots more of Romay sexually writhing around of the floor. These masturbation fantasy performances are the best-looking shots in the film, Franco's camera swirling around Romay as she lays on a carpet of dirty magazines pleasuring herself while she licks the sexual images feverishly, it's definitely some pant-swelling eye-candy. The more comedic sex stuff comes by way of her relationship with Antonio Mayans, seemingly always after him sexually, pleasuring him and moaning wildly "My Tarzan! My Tarzan!". oh brother. 

Towards the end their trying to crack the code in the book to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of the treasure, leading them to a cool-looking villa in the jungle where they find the Nazi gold. Of course the this discovery celebrate by fucking, like they've been doing about every eight minutes so far, only to have their coitus ending with a strangely amiable way and a bit more fornication. The tone Night of Open Sex is all over the dang place but somehow it all comes together wrapped in the delirious 
fantasy of Franco's fevered sex-dreams. 

Audio/Video: Night of Open Sex (1983) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Severin Films, presented in 1080p HD in 2.35:1 widescreen, and sourced from  minty 4K scan of the original camera negative. It's a gorgeous looking transfer that beautifully resolves Franco's cinematography with lush color and texture. The fine detail in the close-ups are wonderful to behold, with some of Romay's pubic hair being so finely resolved I thought I could feel a strand or two stuck between by teeth! Audio comes by way of Spanish PCM 2.0 mono with optional English subtitles, everything is crisp and well-balanced. The score for this one is fantastic, performed by director Jess Franco under his Pablo Villa pseudonym, one of the best of this era that I can recall off the top of my head.  

Extras begin with author Stephen Thrower taking us on a 15-min tour of the locations used in various Franco films in the Cascais/Sintra region of Portugal, locations from Justin and the Whip, Die Sklavinnen, Cecilia, Necronomicon, Voodoo Passions and the trashy Devil Hunter. Thrower adds context to each location, pointing out several that were used in multiple Franco films. It's a gorgeous looking tour, I was surprised how little these locations and their surrounding have changed in forty years.  

We also get an archival interview with Jess Franco and Lina Romay from 1993 filmed by filmmakers Donald Framer (Scream Dream), Franco address the budget of his film, the fast turnaround of his films and his personal philosophy of making film in three to five weeks. He also address the many director pseudonyms credited on his films, making sure to point out those he gave himself and those that distributors just slapped onto films.    

The last extras is a 21-min appreciation of the film from Stephen Thrower who puts the film in context of the era of Franco's career, with Franco having returned to making films in Spain, at a time when he was only making six films a years, which was considered a low yield year for him, as he was usually churning out a film a week, three weeks if you counted post-production! He notes that Franco was the sole cameraman on the film, noting how good these Golden Films International produced string of cheapies actually look on the surface, cutting corners in other areas by having limited casts and creatively shooting scenes, pointing out that the sex club facade used in the film is actually a restaurant. I also appreciated his discussion of Franco's unfettered sexual fantasy cinema, largely being fluid in it's morality, like the fact that Moira in this film is a main character, but ten minutes into the film she's torturing someone's naught buts with a curling iron, which doesn't seem to phase Franco in the least.   

Special Features:
-In The Land Of Franco Part 2: Stephen Thrower Tours Multiple Franco Locations in Portugal (15 min) HD 
-When Donald Met Jess and Lina Part 2: Filmmaker Donald Farmer Interviews the Power Couple in 1993 (10 min) 
-The Night of Open Jess: Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of ‘Murderous Passions & Flowers of Perversion – The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco’

Franco's Night Of Open Sex (1983) is a fast-moving and sexually charged  slice of Franco-filth that is half a half-baked vicious crime thriller and half a goofy sex-comedy, with star Lina Romay stealing the whole shebang with her electrifying, writhing masturbation performances throughout the film. It's not as opulent as some of Franco's more prestige early 70's films like She Killed In Ecstasy (1970) or How To seduce a Virgin (1973), nor as dripping with sleaze as some of his later 70's stuff, but I would comfortably put it alongside something like Barbed Wire Dolls (1976), as being salaciously entertaining Franco film. When compared to the other trash he was making about this same time, say the unforgettably trashy Devil Hunter (1981) or the largely forgettable Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (1983), this is an 80's Franco masterpiece. Severin Films presentation offers a gorgeous organic looking transfer with a set of extras that is sure to please the Franco-fanatics, I know that anytime I see Stephen Thrower all over the extras of a Franco film it's a must-own. 

More screenshots from the Blu-ray.

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