27 November, 2008


The greatest film ever made? Maybe...

The legendary French Film Magazine CAHIERS DU CINEMA has released an updated 100 BEST FILMS list compiled from the choices of French directors, critics and film industry leaders.

It seems like CITIZEN KANE is always going to top most of these lists, with THE GODFATHER perhaps sometimes getting #1. The most interesting choice for me is Luis Bunuel's rather obscure 1952 Mexican melodrama EL [over LOS OLVIDADOS or VIRIDIANA]. I find it interesting that a favorite like CASABLANCA didn't make it and no films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder are cited. I can think of at least three Fassbinder films which I would list along with Werner Herzog's AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD. All such lists are ultimately subjective, culturally skewed and questionable but it can be a fun game to play.

I recently revisited EL, a jet black comedy of manners with tragic undertones as well as a typically Bunuelian study of clinical paranoia. I'll be reviewing it here soon.

For the record, my favorite Orson Welles film is FALSTAFF/CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1965) the project on which Welles hired Jess Franco to help film the much praised battle scene. A must for Welles and Franco enthusiasts but unfortunately, due to labyrinthe legal complications, not available on the kind of high quality R1 DVD presentation this masterwork demands.

Here's the list:

Citizen Kane - Orson Welles
The Night of the Hunter - Charles Laughton
The Rules of the Game (La Règle du jeu) - Jean Renoir
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (L'Aurore) - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
L'Atalante - Jean Vigo
M - Fritz Lang
Singin' in the Rain - Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
Vertigo - Alfred Hitchcock
Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) - Marcel Carné
The Searchers - John Ford
Greed - Erich von Stroheim
Rio Bravo - Howard Hawkes
To Be or Not to Be - Ernst Lubitsch
Tokyo Story - Yasujiro Ozu
Contempt (Le Mépris) - Jean-Luc Godard
Tales of Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari) - Kenji Mizoguchi
City Lights - Charlie Chaplin
The General - Buster Keaton
Nosferatu the Vampire - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
The Music Room - Satyajit Ray
Freaks - Tod Browning
Johnny Guitar - Nicholas Ray
The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et la Putain) - Jean Eustache
The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin
The Leopard (Le Guépard) - Luchino Visconti
Hiroshima, My Love - Alain Resnais
The Box of Pandora (Loulou) - Georg Wilhelm Pabst
North by Northwest - Alfred Hitchcock
Pickpocket - Robert Bresson
Golden Helmet (Casque d'or) - Jacques Becker
The Barefoot Contessa - Joseph Mankiewitz
Moonfleet - Fritz Lang
Diamond Earrings (Madame de…) - Max Ophüls
Pleasure - Max Ophüls
The Deer Hunter - Michael Cimino
The Adventure - Michelangelo Antonioni
Battleship Potemkin - Sergei M. Eisenstein
Notorious - Alfred Hitchcock
Ivan the Terrible - Sergei M. Eisenstein
The Godfather - Francis Ford Coppola
Touch of Evil - Orson Welles
The Wind - Victor Sjöström
2001: A Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick
Fanny and Alexander - Ingmar Bergman
The Crowd - King Vidor
8 1/2 - Federico Fellini
La Jetée - Chris Marker
Pierrot le Fou - Jean-Luc Godard
Confessions of a Cheat (Le Roman d'un tricheur) - Sacha Guitry
Amarcord - Federico Fellini
Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) - Jean Cocteau
Some Like It Hot - Billy Wilder
Some Came Running - Vincente Minnelli
Gertrud - Carl Theodor Dreyer
King Kong - Ernst Shoedsack & Merian J. Cooper
Laura - Otto Preminger
The Seven Samurai - Akira Kurosawa
The 400 Blows - François Truffaut
La Dolce Vita - Federico Fellini
The Dead - John Huston
Trouble in Paradise - Ernst Lubitsch
It's a Wonderful Life - Frank Capra
Monsieur Verdoux - Charlie Chaplin
The Passion of Joan of Arc - Carl Theodor Dreyer
À bout de souffle - Jean-Luc Godard
Apocalypse Now - Francis Ford Coppola
Barry Lyndon - Stanley Kubrick
La Grande Illusion - Jean Renoir
Intolerance - David Wark Griffith
A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne) - Jean Renoir
Playtime - Jacques Tati
Rome, Open City - Roberto Rossellini
Livia (Senso) - Luchino Visconti
Modern Times - Charlie Chaplin
Van Gogh - Maurice Pialat
An Affair to Remember - Leo McCarey
Andrei Rublev - Andrei Tarkovsky
The Scarlet Empress - Joseph von Sternberg
Sansho the Bailiff - Kenji Mizoguchi
Talk to Her - Pedro Almodóvar
The Party - Blake Edwards
Tabu - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
The Bandwagon - Vincente Minnelli
A Star Is Born - George Cukor
Mr. Hulot's Holiday - Jacques Tati
America, America - Elia Kazan
El - Luis Buñuel
Kiss Me Deadly - Robert Aldrich
Once Upon a Time in America - Sergio Leone
Daybreak (Le Jour se lève) - Marcel Carné
Letter from an Unknown Woman - Max Ophüls
Lola - Jacques Demy
Manhattan - Woody Allen
Mulholland Dr. - David Lynch
My Night at Maud's (Ma nuit chez Maud) - Eric Rohmer
Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) - Alain Resnais
The Gold Rush - Charlie Chaplin
Scarface - Howard Hawks
Bicycle Thieves - Vittorio de Sica
Napoléon - Abel Gance

25 November, 2008

Terrific Jose Benazeraf site!


Thanks to Klaus...

I'll be adding a hot link to the sidebar. Check it out for numerous high quality videos, posters, photo galleries, information on DVDs, an upcoming retrospective and much more!

23 November, 2008


Francoise Blanchard as LA MORTE VIVANTE...

Ms Blanchard went on to appear in the Jess Franco related Oasis des filles perdues, NEVROSE, GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS and SIDA: LA PESTE DEL SIGLO XX...


Yönetmen: Jesus Franco

Yapım Yılı: 1986
Firma: Golden Films Internacional S.A.
Dil: İspanyolca
Ülke: İspanya
Görüntü: Renkli
Ses Düzeni: Mono
(Roller) Françoise Blanchard
Bill Hoversten
Ricardo Palacios
Michel Rollin
Lina Romay
Ikki Vargas

Müzik: Daniel White

Senaryo: Brian Epstein (yazar)
Jesus Franco (yazar)
Marius Lesoeur (yazar) (A.L. Mariaux)

Yapımcılar: Emilio Larraga

Who are the heroes and who are the villains in Jess Franco's outrageously conceived and titled AIDS exploitation project? Or is everyone a victim? Probably, but it's equally probable we won't ever get to see it on a future DVD considering it's reportedly locked up by Eurocine. Nzoog has just reminded me over at the discussion of this on CINEMADROME that Cronenberg was already there in terms of AIDS allegories and I wonder if THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (1975) and RABID (1976) would make a good triple bill with SHINING SEX... (1975), and I wonder if either Franco or Cronenberg were aware of each other's work at the time.

Ricardo Palacios is also in SIDA..., a villain in many Jess Franco and Hollywood films including ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS, THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, THE WIND AND THE LION, TAKE A HARD RIDE and THE SPIKES GANG, among others. His face, if not his name, is a familiar one from international coproductions [especially numerous Spaghetti Westerns] with Spain since the 1960s. Hear his voice as the narrator of Jess Franco's 1983 LOS BLUES CALLE POP... . He still looms large in SIDA: LA PESTE DEL SIGLO XX... I can picture him in the Dr. Seward/alien hunter role, which Jess Franco played in SHINING SEX. And who is Bill Hoversten? Michael Rollin is the son of the superior French character actor, Georges Rollin [of Franco's LA MUERTE SILBA UN BLUES and EL LLANERO).

Shot under the title MISSION SIDA for Emilio Larraga's GOLDEN FILMS INTERNACIONAL SA company it is a re staging of SHINING SEX-la fille au sexe brillant (1975) and was shot very much in the style of BANGKOK, CITA CON LA MUERTE and LA ESCLAVA BLANCA, both 1985 micro-budgeted action genre productions lensed by Juan Soler with his typically luminous compositions. At that timeFranco and Soler were using Agfacolor stock to shoot a flurry of cheaper porno titles [EL MIRON Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA] with excellent results at the time.

Francoise Blanchard, the pathetic title character in Jean Rollin's LA MORTE VIVANTE is the female lead. While Lina Romay, who played the stricken protagonist in SHINING SEX is also in this remake. A disease which has been fatal to so many for decades and a worldwide scourge, is hardly a first-thought exploitation subject. But fatal diseases are often the subtext of horror films, if SIDA... can be considered horror at all.

Yet another notorious title in a career of notorious titles.

I'll be reviewing the rarely seen 100m version of SHINING SEX: LA FILLE AU SEXE BRILLANT at some point in the future. However, don't hold your breath for SIDA: LA PESTE DEL SIGLO XX.

(c) Robert Monell, 2008

20 November, 2008


Who is this actress and in which Jess Franco film does she appear?

NOTE: The image above is not from the Franco film in question, but you get extra points for identifying the title from which the screenshot is taken. Remember, all these extra points add up toward a chance to be on board the 2009 European Trash Cinema cruise to....

18 November, 2008


Thanks to Alex Mendibil for informing me that the Spanish Academy of Art and Cinematographic Sciences has honored Jess Franco with the 2008 Goya Award for his career in cinema. Spain's main national film award and the equivalent of Hollywood's Academy Award, it was established in 1987. Previous winners include Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz.

I copied over this quote and information from Alex's post on my CINEMADROME site:

"It's such a pleasure and a great honor. I never expected any recognition for my career. I'm delighted and, as I never felt to deserve anything, it's a beautiful present." said Franco after knowing the news. The XXIII Goya Awards Ceremony is being held on 1st February, 2009.

With this prestigious award and the comprehensive Cinematheque Francaise retrospective earlier this year 2008 can now be termed The Year Of Jess Franco!

Congratulations Jess!

13 November, 2008

Favorite Jess Franco Performances?

As the writer in EXORCISM (1974)...

Walking the lonely path a few years late in THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME (1980)

As agent Tino Celli in THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA (1970)

As the torturer in DIE SKLAVINNEN

Jess Franco has appeared as an actor in many of his own films [frequently in Hitchcockian cameos] as well as in other directors, notably as Venancio in the late Fernando Fernan Gomez's EL EXTRANO VIAJE (1964). I have not seen this rather obscure but highly regarded black comedy but I hope it sooner or later gets a proper R1 DVD presentation.

I wanted to conduct an up-to-date poll on favorite Jess Franco's performances in his or other director's films. Of course he has the lead in both EXORCISME (1974) and its 1980 remix EL SADICO DEL NOTRE DAME but one of my favorites is the babbling idiot/voyeur in MACUMBA SEXUAL. Jess manages to be simultaneously amusing and unsettling among his petrified deep sea dwellers.

I would like to add that his performances are always more effective when his own voice is used. It has a distinctive tone which he can alter and control quite skillfully as when he voices Juan Cozar's character in GEMIDOS DE PLACER.

In his own work his acting career ranges from a glimpsed piano player in GRITOS EN LA NOCHE to the sinister sage in DR WONG'S VIRTUAL HELL.

What are some of your favorite Jess Franco performances?

06 November, 2008


How about HD quality R1 DVD presentations of Jose Benazeraf's classic erotica?

R1 DVD of US redo of Benazeraf's 1962 sexy Eurocrime item LE CONCERTO DE LA PEUR, imported and fucked over by Bob Creese and R. Lee Frost...

Thanks to paroxismus for posting a link on my cinemadrome site to an excellent 8m video interview with the legendary director of dozens of erotic films from the 1960s onward, Jose Benazeraf. It's in French but this is a must-see even if you don't understand the language due to numerous clips from many of his key works including the notorious and rarely seen JOE CALIGULA which was banned in France in 1966 and in dire need of being fully restored on a HD R1 DVD presentation along with the director's other erotic classics such as L'ETERNITE POUR NOUS (1961), LE DESIRABLE ET LE SUBLIME (1969), both of which are represented on the video as well as a glimpses of his work with Brigitte Lahaie. And you'll also hear some Jess Franco related music.

The interview was conducted in 2007. Benazeraf discusses his films, eroticism and French politics among other topics. The clips from JOE CALIGULA, which was shot in b&w in 1965, reveal a nihilistic crime-noir aesthetic which seems very similar to Godard's A BOUT DE SOUFFLE (1959), BAND OF OUTSIDERS (1964) and certain Nouvelle Vague films by Rivette, Chabrol and Truffaut from that heady period.

Just click the link on the left sidebar to watch the video.

Thanks to Alex

(C) Robert Monell, 2008

02 November, 2008


The Most Dangerous Movie!

BANNED OUTRIGHT: "Depraved"? You bet, and so was THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI... If that wasn't banned imagine the threat of rampaging Yeti to the population of the UK!

The original SAW?

The list is from WIKIPEDIA just to illustrate how things have changed since this was published by the UK DPP in 1983. I understand that at least one person went to jail in the UK for selling a film on the list. Note that three JF films are on here, including DEVIL HUNTER and BLOODY MOON, both now released on DVD by Severin Films. I guess the more recent SAW and HOSTEL movies passed the BBFC uncut. They're just no-problem family entertainment. Right? Was the stone mill saw sequence in BLOODY MOON a possible inspiration? I'm just asking? I guess that all these films can now be sold and owned in the UK with no problems. Don't worry... Be happy... It can't happen again... Can it?

Absurd (original/alternate titles: Rosso Sangue, Anthropophagus 2 — released with 2m 32s cut in 1983)
The Anthropophagous Beast (original title: Antropophagus — released with approximately 3m of pre-cuts in 2002)
Axe! (original title: Lisa, Lisa — re-released uncut in 2005)
The Beast in Heat (original title: La bestia in Calore) (Banned outright)
The Beyond (original title: E tu vivrai nel terrore - L'Aldilà — re-released uncut in 2001)
Blood Feast (re-released uncut in 2005)
Blood rites (original title: The Ghastly Ones) (Banned outright)
Bloody Moon (original title: Die Säge des Todes — released with 1m 20s cut in 1993)
The Boogeyman (original title: The Boogeyman — re-released uncut in 2000)
The Burning (re-released uncut in 2001)
Cannibal Apocalypse (original title: Apocalypse Domani — released with 2s cut in 2005)
Cannibal Ferox (alternat title: Make them Die Slowly. released with approximately 5m of pre-cuts plus 6s of additional cuts in 2000)
Cannibal Holocaust (released in 2001 with 5m 44s cut to remove all scenes of animal cruelty)
Cannibal Man (original title: La Semana del Asesino — released with 3s cut in 1993)
Cannibal Terror (original title: Terror Caníbal — released uncut in 2003)
Contamination (released uncut in 2004 with a 15 rating)
Dead & Buried (re-released uncut in 2004)
Death Trap (original title: Eaten Alive — re-released uncut in 2000)
Deep River Savages (original/alternate title: Il paese del sesso selvaggio, Man from Deep River. — released with 3m 45s cut in 2003)
Delirium (released with 16s cut in 1987)( was also called psycho puppet)
Devil Hunter (original title: Il cacciatore di uomini) (Banned outright)
Don't Go In The House (released with 3m 7s cut in 1987)
Don't Go in the Woods (released uncut in 2007)
Don't Go Near the Park (released uncut in 2006)
Don't Look in the Basement (original title: The Forgotten — released uncut in 2005 with a 15 rating)
The Dorm That Dripped Blood — re-released with 10s cut in 2001) (Alternate title: Pranks)
The Driller Killer (released with cuts in 1999 - re-released uncut in 2002)
The Evil Dead (re-released uncut in 2001)
Evilspeak (re-released uncut in 1999)
Exposé (re-released with approximately 30s cut in 2006)
Faces of Death (released with 2m 19s cut in 2003)
Fight For Your Life (Banned outright)
Flesh for Frankenstein (re-released uncut in 2006) (Alternate title: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein)
Forest of Fear (original title: Bloodeaters) (Banned outright)
Frozen Scream (Banned outright)
The Funhouse (released uncut in 1987)
Gestapo's Last Orgy (original title: L'ultima orgia del III Reich) (Banned outright)
The House by the Cemetery (original title: Quella villa accanto al cimitero — re-released with 33s cut in 2001)
House on the Edge of the Park (original title: La casa sperduta nel parco — released with 11m 43s cut in 2002)
Human Experiments (released with 26s cut in 1994)
I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses (released with 1m 6s cut in 1986)
I Spit On Your Grave (original title: Day of the Woman — released with 7m 2s cut in 2001)
Inferno (re-released with 20s cut in 1993)
Island of Death (original title: Ta Pedhia tou dhiavolou — released with 4m 9s cut in 2002)
Killer Nun (original title: Suor Omicidi — re-released uncut in 2006)
The Last House on the Left (passed uncut on the 17th March, 2008)
Late Night Trains (original title: L'ultimo treno della notte — released uncut in 2008)
Living Dead At Manchester Morgue (original title: Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti — re-released uncut in 2002)
Love Camp 7 (refused a certificate in 2002) (Banned outright)
Madhouse (original title: There Was a Little Girl — released uncut in 2004)
Mardi Gras Massacre (Banned outright)
Night of the Bloody Apes (original title: La Horripilante bestia humana — released with approximately 1m of pre-cuts in 1999)
Night of the Demon (released with 1m 41s cut in 1994)
Nightmare Maker (Banned outright)
Nightmare in a Damaged Brain (re-released with pre-cuts in 2005)(Alternate title: Nightmare)
Possession (released uncut in 1999)
Prisoner of the Cannibal God (original title: La montagna del dio cannibale — released with 2m 6s cut in 2001)
Revenge of the Bogey Man (original title: Boogeyman II — released with additional footage in 2003)
Shogun Assassin (re-released uncut in 1999)
The Slayer (re-released uncut in 2001)
Snuff (released uncut in 2003)
SS Experiment Camp (original title: Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur — released uncut in 2005)
Tenebrae (original title: Tenebre — re-released uncut in 2003)
Terror Eyes (original title: Night School — released with 1m 16s cut in 1987)
The Toolbox Murders (released with 1m 46s cut in 2000)
Twitch of the Death Nerve (original title: Reazione a catena — released with 43s cut in 1994) (2 alternate titles: Bay Of Blood, Carnage)
Unhinged (released uncut in 2004)
Visiting Hours (released with approximately 2m cut in 1986)
The Werewolf and the Yeti (original title: La Maldición de la bestia) (Banned outright)
The Witch Who Came From the Sea (released uncut in 2006)
Women Behind Bars (original French title: Des diamants pour l'enfer) (Banned outright)
Xtro (released uncut in 1987)
Zombie Creeping Flesh (original title: Virus — released uncut in 2002)
Zombie Flesh Eaters (original title: Zombi 2 — re-released uncut in 2005) (alternate title: Zombie)