Francophilia - Page 2

Revisiting the works of Eurotrash's most determined auteur

Sex and death: Jess Franco's 'Exorcism' (1974)

But then, neither would he likely have made numerous movies that seem driven by insatiability alone — like 1972's Sinner (a.k.a. Diary of a Nymphomaniac, a surprisingly moralistic corruption-of-youth tale; 1973's Countess Perverse, succinctly described on IMBD as "Two wealthy aristocrats lure a virginal girl to a Spanish island for a night of sex, death, and cannibalism;" 1973's Female Vampire, the first starring vehicle for waifish, exhibitionist muse Lina Romay, his spouse and collaborator until her death earlier this year; and 1974's Exorcism, with the short, squat director himself as a murderously crazy ex-priest who mistakes swingers' mock "black masses" for the real thing. These four were recently issued for home viewing. The latter two (on Kino Lorber) come complete with alternate versions emphasizing bloody mayhem over naked frisking.

They are, of course, a mixed bag, sometimes winningly eccentric or even poetical, sometimes just sleazy and dull. For every decent to genuinely good Franco opus (among the latter, improbably, 1976's quite serious Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun), a dozen or more are likely better off unseen when they're not outright unseeable. (He's left behind many films unfinished, lost or in legal limbo). What are we missing in the likes of 1980's Two Female Spies With Flowered Panties, 1981's Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies, 1984's The Night Has a Thousand Sexes, 1986's Lulu's Talking Ass, 1986's Tribulations of a Cross-Eyed Buddha, or this year's Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Women? Maybe they're best kept suspended somewhere between Franco's imagination and our own.

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