29 October, 2009

Favorite Jess Franco Halloween Movies

Dollar Store Monster Mash!

The Spanish Frankenstein monster (Fernando Bilbao). Look closely at those scars!

Where did you get those fangs, Howard?

What are your favorite Jess Franco movies to watch during the Halloween season?

One of my favorites is DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN aka DRACULA, PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN aka THE SCREAMING DEAD aka DIE NACHT DER OFFENEN SARGE aka SANTANA CONTA DR EXORTIO [!. This 1971 no-budget monster rally offers an uncanny representation of the spirit of Halloween with its prowling famous monsters of filmland, mad scientists and weird atmosphere crackling with inhuman shrieks.

The costuming and make-up of the Frankenstein monster, Dracula and the werewolf actually look like Halloween costumes quickly executed by some kids with garage-sale clothing, crackerjack box fangs and some handy magic markers used to draw the surgical scars onto the face of Frankenstein monster actor Fernando Bilbao. All this makes it all the more fun to watch for me. It's bargain basement Gothic.

In a way it's the director's critique of the then-popular Hammer horrors and his cut-rate homage to the Universal horror movies of the 1930s and 40s (cf HOUSE OF DRACULA). I can understand how horror genre purists could dismiss it and take offense but it all brings a smile to my face every time I watch it.

24 October, 2009

The Return of "Brandy"

"Brandy" as the werewolf in DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN


Thanks to Nzoog, our Spanish friend and correspondent, for reporting on his recent encounter in Spain with director Miguel Iglesias Bonns (along with "Grace Mill") several months ago and revealing that the stuntman known as "Brandy", who appears as the werewolf in Jess Franco's DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN (1971), went on to appear as Paul Naschy's uncredited stunt double in the Bonns-directed LA MALDICION DE LA BESTIA aka NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975). I always wondered what became of him, he certainly makes an impression in the Franco film with his bizarre, energetic presence. He can be seen performing some impressive jumps and other stunts in LA MALDICION..., both in werewolf make-up and doubling for Naschy in some fight scenes.


I have a dub of the vintage 80s prerecord of this, the English language version of LA MALDICION DE LA BESTIA.

This is my favorite Naschy "hombre lobo" movie. It's a real movie-movie, and isn't afflicted with the sometimes oppressively downbeat undercurrent some of his other efforts display. In fact, this entry in Naschy's epic Waldemar Daninsky saga has a happy ending. Waldemar Daninsky is cured by a plant, mixed with the blood of his beloved [Grace Mills], and they walk away together across the snowy plains of Spain, representing Tibet!

It opens with a party of explorers in Tibet being attacked by a "Yeti" which looks like a tall skinny guy in a ratty fur coat! This has to the most fulsome Yeti costume ever. Favorite scenes include the late Victor Israel's cameo in which he babbles about the curse of the red moon or something and then runs off a cliff (or is he picked up by a UFO?!); the hot, sub-human cannibal women who seduce Naschy and then proceed to have a meal of arms and body parts; the cannibal woman turning into a steaming skeleton in death; the skinning of the female hostage [a la Sade]; and Silva Solar, as a perverse Wandesa, getting stabbed in the crotch. I find her much better suited for the role than Patty Shepard in WEREWOLF SHADOW (1970).

Does anyone know who composed that rather ethereal CAM Espana cue we hear when Naschy enters the [gated] cave of the cannibal women? I've heard it in numerous Spanish horrors of that era.

Luis Induni almost steals the show as the skin-diseased Khan. In the fight scenes with Induni Nzoog confirms that Naschy (in his non-werewolf form) was stunt doubled by Brandy.

Naschy must have wanted to make a sexy-gory version of WEREWOLF OF LONDON, it has that feel. As a director Bonns appears to be a sort of cinematic Primitive and has a forceful, brisk, raw edged action-adventure style which works despite the mediocre cinematography and abysmal makeups. It should also be noted that the scalp of the Yeti which Waldemar and the Professor examine in the first scene, a scrap of fabric with hair glued to it, has to be one of the most unconvincing props in horror movie history.

To read more about Nzoog's report on the appearance of Bonns go to www.cinemadrome.yuku.com by hitting the link on the sidebar at left after scrolling down a bit. It's in this thread at the top of the board: Violación inconfesable (1981) Co-written and directed by Miguel Iglesias Bonns....

22 October, 2009

Jean-Bernard Raiteux LP Images


Thanks to Curt for the image and information on the Jean-Bernard Raiteux LP. I'm still trying to find out more about the composer-musican whose music can be heard in at least three Franco films of the early 1970s: LES DEMONS (1972), SINNER (1972) and THE PERVERSE COUNTESS (1973). I also think some of his cues may be heard on the soundtrack of LA MALDICION DE FRANKENSTEIN (1972), but I'll have to confirm that at a later date.*

The feverish electric guitar stylings, backed by furious drumming and untamed flute variations are a unique sonic environment for the story of witchcraft and corruption in LES DEMONS.

33 1/3 <MONO-STEREO)
MPI/LP - 539
" musique pour l'image n° 39 "
Musique de Jean-Bernard RAITEUX
Face A
Musique fougueuse. Roge de vivre
Bourrée orientale pour hommes ca/mes
Sprint pour 2 iambes ou 4 fers
Un romantisme serein
Un tennis américain
Batteries, bongos et guitare - percussion

Face B
En soliste, le sax-soprano dramatise
Un ;azzo.flûte burlesque qui fait /e poids et s'altère...
Des bongos présents soulignent les bonds de la balle
Entre deux eaux
MEDIUM.- RAPIDE Un crowl médjterranéen
Pour de brillantes chevauchées

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16 October, 2009

THE DEMONS: German Theatrical Version & Music

The 2004 X-RATED KULT DVD: LES DEMONS/DIE NONNEN VON CLICHY: The X-RATED NUNSPLOITATION SERIES 5, DOPPEL DVD SET, will be one of the crown jewels of the serious Jess Franco collector. PAL, Code 2, 16:9 anamorphic.

I just re watched the vintage German theatrical version of Jess Franco's 1972 Nunsploitation/Witchfinder General epic. It struck me how this second version of the story of Judge Jeffries violates history and the director's own first version [THE BLOODY JUDGE-1970] by having the character undone by a supernatural curse ["the kiss of death"]. Of course, Britt Nichols and Anne Libert are the erotic objects in this film, and the director can't seem to wait to get them out of their habits and either into bed with assorted partners or into the torture chamber. One really can't compare John Foster [Cihangir Gaffari] as Jeffries to Christopher Lee's intensive portray of the character. Gaffari tries to look intense, and he does have striking features. Gaffari and DP Raul Artigot went on to make the contemporary witchcraft thriller, THE WITCHES MOUNTAIN, the same year.

This version is one of three on the X RATED KULT set, still my favorite Jess Franco DVD. The "Original Deutsche Kinofassung mit Bonusszenen" is a Grindhouse delight, complete with lime green scratches, missing frames, visible flags at reel changes and all sorts of blemishes. It's letterboxed wider than 2.35:2, its OAR. An educated guess would be 2.50:1, cutting into the top of the images. It's also the only version of the three to contain the vintage 1972 credits, in German DIE NONNEN VON CLICHY. Run time approximately 85m. It's definitely preferable to a cropped 1.33:1 presentation and has some historical value. Luis Barboo takes over the role of the Inquisitor, played by Howard Vernon in THE BLOODY JUDGE. It's always good to see the mangled visage of Barboo and one has to admire how Vernon, the memorably vicious Inquisitor in the first version, can be just as effective as the only totally sympathetic, enlightened person in the court.

What holds the film together even in its many compromised states, at least for me, is the startling, sometimes anachronistic score by Jean-Bernard Raiteux. Parts of the score, which could be described as a mixture of early 70's acid rock and period Baroque, were reused in Franco's 1973 LA COMTESSE PERVERSE. Franco's compositions also range from the symmetrical to the classical to the frenzied zooming and panning of the opening. Note the lens ravishing of Britt Nichols and Doris Thomas during their extended masturbation sequences.

I'm still interested in hearing from anyone who has the score on CD or vinyl, if it was ever issued. I would like to somehow get a copy. Thanks to Tony of Xploited and Squonkmatic.

10 October, 2009


"El Ojete de Lulú"

Thanks to Francesco Cesari for sending the rare "Spanish kiosk DVD" of Jess Franco's 1985 ENTRE PITOS ANDA EL JUEGO, a delightfully airy, witty and self reflexive hardcore feature con "Candy Coster", directed by "Lulu Laverne", produced by Fernando Vidal Campos' Fervi Films. 
It's obvious that Franco took these micro-budgeted hardcores as seriously as his non-erotic, more mainstream, linear mid 80s Fervi Film projects. The erotic film, even hardcore, is another legitimate genre for him.

A brief (approx. 70 m) venture, this is a minimalist (by necessity), almost Godardian take on the demands of Spanish hc consumers in that era. The telezoom images of high rises over Alicante [?] under the credits remind me of similar images in Godard's TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER (1966), also about sex, architecture and is the kind of film snobs hate. The same kind of snobs who jeer at Demofilo Fidani "westerns" and Jess Franco hardcore assignations. And remember, Orson Welles also worked on at least one hardcore film late in his career.* And it's always good to see "Mona Lisa"*... . Obviously, I take a certain attitude as a default mode when dealing with Franco's hc portfolio, and this is one that bears the scrutiny.

Franco is quoted in OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO (who also list this item as a Lina Romay film "with Franco's collaboration"; I think, "ghosted" by JF) as saying at Cannes '92 that, "This film has one of the best comic sequences in the history of pornographic cinema...." I won't go on. Solo Jess Franco....! I'll go on... more about the Spanish Kiosk DVDs of Jess Franco mid 1980s hardcores soon.

NOTE: the above image is from Franco's 1985 hardcore EL OJETE DE LULU, unfortunately it doesn't lead to the YouTube video, which appears to have been removed.

The Agfacolor DVD print is really nice. Good luck in finding one!
*3 AM [Gary Graver]
*Concha Montes.
UPDATED 10/2009

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08 October, 2009


Jess Franco and Amy Brown at the 2009 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas...

Amy Brown, the world-class authority on all things related to the late, legendary Soledad Miranda, now has a terrific new interview with Jess Franco up on her soledadmiranda.com website.
There is some fascinating new information in this interview about Miranda's overall career, her films with Franco, along with Franco's comments on her too-short life and some surprising revelations about what may have been some of their future projects together if she hadn't died.
I highly recommend this interview to anyone interested in Jess Franco/Soledad Miranda. Great job, Amy!


Amy Brown
Thanks to Amy for the link and images.

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01 October, 2009

DANIEL MARTIN (1935-2009)

Another Spanish actor noted for his many appearances in Spanish-lensed European genre films of the 1960s and 70s has passed away. Daniel Martin (real name: Jose Martinez Martinez), perhaps most familiar to US movie fans as the Mexican peasant father of Jesus in FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, died on Monday, September 28 in Spain. He appeared, mostly as a supporting player, in numerous Euro westerns and genre films such as THE DEVIL'S KISS (1975). One of his more prominent roles was as Charlie in Lucio Fulci's WHITE FANG. His career included over 70 roles from his first film in 1962 to his work in Spanish TV in late 1990s.

He also appeared in such films as Amando de Ossorio's DEMON-WITCH-CHILD (1974) and THEY CAME TO ROB LAS VEGAS (1969). As an actor he always seemed to bring humor, intensity and a certain energy to his roles. He was born 12 May 1935, in Cartagena, Spain. Thanks to Nzoog.