ICC #151 – The Impossible Filmography of Jess Franco (Part 1)
This is a big one! We jump into the hypnotic work of Writer/Director Jess Franco with a look at his first horror film The Awful Dr. Orloff, his biggest budget production Marquis de Sade’s Justine, and two of his early triumphs Venus and Furs and Vampyros Lesbos.
Letter topics include a film that couldn’t make our top ten lists and our favourite books on Eurotrash cinema.
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“Generally considered the first horror film produced in Spain, THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF (L’horrible Docteur Orlof ) launched the career of cult cinema’s most colorful figure: Jesus “Jess” Franco. Cloaking the story in the visual style of the British gothic film, Franco injected ORLOF with the kind of morbid eroticism that would quickly become his signature (and is presented here in the uncensored French release version). Howard Vernon stars as a diabolical surgeon who, with the help of his blind minion Morpho (Ricardo Valle), lures beautiful women into the operating room of his stone castle, so they may provide the raw materials for a series of experimental face grafts for his disfigured daughter.”
“Romina Power (18-year-old-daughter of Tyrone Power) stars as Justine, a nubile young virgin cast out of a French orphanage and thrust into a depraved world of prostitution, predatory lesbians, a fugitive murderess (Mercedes McCambridge), bondage, branding, and one supremely sadistic “
“Ewa Stroemberg stars as Linda Westinghouse, an American working at a Turkish legal firm. Linda is plagued and thrilled by a series of erotic dreams concerning a mysterious vampire woman who seduces her before feeding on her blood. When she travels to an island to settle Countess Carody’s inheritance, Lucy recognizes the beautiful woman as the vampire from her dreams. Vampyros Lesbos (aka Las Vampiras) is a West German/Spanish film directed by Jess Franco. It was filmed in 1970 in Turkey. It is a surrealistic reworking of Bram Stoker’s short story “Dracula’s Guest” and has acquired a substantial cult following due to its hallucinatory erotic imagery and a sexy performance by Soledad Miranda as vampiric Countess Nadine Corody. It was a success in theaters in Europe on its release and was the first film to have a more psychedelic score for a Franco film and the first to have a lesbian theme as a prominent feature of the film. The film’s score became popular in the mid-1990s when it was included on the compilation Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party, an album that became a top ten hit on the British Alternative charts.”