28 February, 2010



Lorna is finally coming... in more ways than one!

The upcoming DVD cover copied from the MONDO MACABRO blog. That's all I know for now. More details will follow.

The cover art certainly conveys the tone and imagery of the film!

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27 February, 2010

Influences: LES YEUX SANS VISAGE (1960)

It's difficult not to see and understand the influence Georges Franju's once notorious, eternally exquisite Sadean surgical horror had on the visual style, plot elements and mood of Jess Franco's first horror film, GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961) and the much later FACELESS (1988). Both of them are important markers in his career and he performs his own personal variations on the mad doctor in search of a new face for a beloved female relative theme while adding elements from German Expressionism and other films (cf THE LODGER). But I now find GRITOS... and FACELESS to be two of my lesser favorites of his horror films and somewhat more dated than the Franju film, which seems fresh and disturbing each time you see it... and in a quieter key.

I think Franco found his true voice first in THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (1962) and then in MISS MUERTE aka THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z (1965). The 1982 SINISTER DR. ORLOFF is also an interesting variation and worth tracking down.

But LES YEUX SANS VISAGE does make an interesting double bill with any of those films to see where Jess Franco went and how he got there.

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22 February, 2010


Breaking News

Breakneck development blamed for Madeira flood toll

Three decades of breakneck development and rogue urban planning are to blame for the heavy toll from weekend flash floods on Portugal's tourist island of Madeira, environmentalists said Monday. Skip related content

Portugal was in mourning after torrents of muddy water swamped the mountainous Atlantic island on Saturday, killing 42 people and injuring scores more as the flooding demolished houses and overturned cars.

But for green groups and construction experts, Madeira was left vulnerable to a flood disaster by careless development.
"What happened in Madeira is a textbook example of the dangers of bad urban planning," agreed Ricardo Ribeiro, head of a Portuguese association of public safety technicians.
The Portuguese island, which lies 500 kilometres (300 miles) off the Moroccan coast, has undergone a spectacular modernisation in the past 30 years, largely thanks to European Union funds to channelled to poor, outlying regions.
Tourists from northern Europe flock each year to its capital Funchal, now a small city of 100,000 people boasting waterfront luxury hotels and holiday resorts and state-of-the-art infrastructure.
To cater for the tourism boom, a four-lane highway now runs a ring around the island of 57 by 22 kilometres, while critics says dozens of road tunnels have turned Madeira into a concrete "Swiss cheese."
Green groups have long accused the island's president since 1978, Alberto Joao Jardim, of promoting sprawl with little regard for environmental safety.
For Helder Spinola of the Quercus green group, "heavy rains are not the only explanation for the disaster."
"Planning mistakes made the situation worse," he charged.
Hundreds of buildings have sprung up on land prone to flooding, he says, while the concreting-over of much of Madeira's coast now prevents water from seeping into the soil, making the flood risk worse.
Building roads, high-rise hotels and infrastructure near Madeira's waterways has "waterproofed the soil with concrete and tarmac," he says, a problem particularly acute in the south where most of its 250,000 inhabitants live.
None of the three main rivers that cross Madeira are able to run freely into the surrounding soil, he says.
On Saturday, "these waterways became water cannons sweeping away bridges and buildings," said Portuguese far-left politician Francisco Louca.
Joao Carlos Silva, an opposition Socialist lawmaker in the Madeira regional assembly, also took aim at the "chaotic urbanisation" in and around Funchal, claiming to have repeatedly warned the authorities of the flood risk.
Maderia's regional authorities declined to comment on the accusations, dismissed as "ridiculous" by Funchal's mayor Miguel Albuquerque who said the disaster was caused by "an exceptional weather phenomenon."


Funchal, Portugal, the most populated city in Madeira, the largest island in the Portuguese archipelago, where scenes for such films as LA COMTESSE NOIRE and AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO (1973) and other Jess Franco titles were shot, was devastated over the weekend by flash flooding and mudslides. Many residents and tourists were swept away into the sea. At least 42 are dead, and many more missing, including a UK national. The islands are especially popular with UK tourists.

When reading this I thought back to the magical quality that once underdeveloped island gave to those films. But as this report shows time has brought manmade change and a climatic disaster.

The actor Robert Woods told me that when he arrived on the island for location shooting on several Jess Franco features in 1973 he was charmed by its relatively unspoiled, breathtaking beauty. Images of the misty mountaintop gates to another world referenced by the melancholy writer played by Jack Taylor in LA COMTESSE NOIRE, the site of the fabled Atlantis, also came back.

I've always wanted to go to Madeira on a sort of nostalgic LA COMTESSE NOIRE retreat. I was saddened by this sobering news of real death and destruction in a place I had thought of as somehow frozen in time and protected from the onslaughts of the world we actually live in. [RM]

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18 February, 2010

Jess Franco will appear at the OFFSCREEN FILM FEST with his films!

Thanks to Wim for this email regarding the showing of some rare 35mm prints of several key Jess Franco titles. The director and Lina Romay will be in attendance. Follow the link to the OFFSCREEN FESTIVAL site for details.

In addition some Eurowesterns will be screened. Here is a list from email along with the Franco titles. I'm especially interested in the reported 84m print of NECRONOMICON. The longest available is about 79m.

By the way - the festival will also feature 14 spaghetti westerns on 35mm prints. The final program including dates will be made public at the press conference on februari 18th. I've got info on the languange options on most of the prints, more detail will be available on the 18th :

- The Big Silence : english dub + dutch/french subs
- Django Kill : italian dub + english subs
- The Price Of Power : italian dub + english subs
- Kill & Pray (Requiescant) : english dub + ? subs
- Cemetary Without Crosses (Une corde, un colt) : french dub + ? subs
- And God Said To Cain : english dub + dutch/french subs
- Tepepa : english dub + dutch/french subs
- Blindman : ? dub + ? subs
- For A Few Dollars More : english dub + dutch/french subs
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly : english dub + dutch/french subs
- Death Rides A Horse : english dub + no subs
- The Mercenary : english dub + dutch/french subs
- Django : english dub + no subs
- The Big Gundown : probably italian dub + dutch/french subs

All on 35mm film prints except for Requiescant as the only one on 16mm.

Kind regards,
On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 9:13 AM, Wim C wrote:

Hi Robert - here's the Franco-segment of the programmation, including languages on the prints and their runtimes.

Here's the festival's poster :
Here's the poster of the Vampyros Lesbos/Succubus double bill :

Love Letters of a Portugese Nun
Jess Franco, Germany/Switzerland, 1977, 35mm, v ang st fr + all / eng v franse + duitse ot, 82’
DON JEU THU 04 March

Shining Sex (La fille au sexe brillant)
Jess Franco, Belgium /France, 1977, 35mm, vf st nl + all / fr v nl + duitse ot, 69’
VRI VEN FRI 05 March

Midnight Party AKA Lady Porno (La partouze de minuit)
Jess Franco, Belgium/France, 1977, 35mm, vf st nl / fr v nl ot, 75’
VRI VEN FRI 05 March

Vampyros Lesbos
Jess Franco, Spain/Germany, 1971, 35mm, vo st bil / ov tweetalige ot, 89’
ZAT SAM SAT 06 March

Succubus AKA Necronomicon
Jess Franco, Germany, 1967, 35mm, v ang st fr / eng v franse ot, 84’
ZAT SAM SAT 06 March

Ilsa, the Wicked warden (Greta Haus ohne Manner)
Jess Franco, Germany/Switzerland, 1977, 35mm, v all st nl + fr / duitse v nl + fr ot, 84’
ZAT SAM SAT 06 March

Hello Robert,
The Festival's site is now online :
Could you please let people know about it? A rare chance for European Franco-fans - some seldom seen movies with Franco and Romay in attendance.

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12 February, 2010

PAULA-PAULA: An Audiovisual Experience

Luis Garcia Berlanga: Franco's inspiration

A sleazy 1972 Al Pereira crime film and one of the ancestors of PAULA-PAULA

The single exterior shot in a film of interiors*

Alma Pereira, Lina Romay's female variation on Franco's favorite PI, Al Pereira

CFB 2010
PAULA-PAULA: An Audiovisual Experience
66m PAL R 0
Directed by Jess Franco
Story and Dialogue by Rosa Ma Almirall
Music: Friedrich Gulda
Operator Jess Franco - Widescreen
Edited by Jess Franco, Beatriz Alcala & Alberto Sedano
Costumes & Make up: Rosa Ma Almirall
Special Video Effects: Jess Franco, Alberto Sedano, Beatriz Alcana
Produced by CBF Films
Cast: Carmen Montes (Paula), Paula Davis (Paula), Lina Romay (Alma Pereira).
Dedicated to the memory of maestro Friedrich Gulda

Language: SPANISH w English subtitles

Alma Pereira (Lina Romay) is a female police officer [cf Al Pereira in 1972's LES ERBRANLEES {Howard Vernon) or Antonio Mayans in the 1982 BOTAS NEGRAS, LATIGO DE CUERO, etc] investigating the murder of an exotic dancer at a sleazy club in Malaga, Spain. Called to the Flamingo Club in a back alley of Antofagasta she confronts the prime suspect, Paula(Carmen Montes), a friend of the victim. After a brief Q & A the balance of the film shows what happened in the interval leading up to the killing, which turns out to be a crime of passion. Or is it all in the mind of Paula?

Robert Louis Stevenson's THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE may have been a starting point but this is a film essentially built around  the late Friedrich Gulda's musical composition,  an upbeat Jazz fantasia which takes us back to the ambiance of NECRONOMICON (1967), the story of the killing of the Prince by the demoniac woman in the garden of the Devil is repeated from that classic Jess Franco title. It is a film with obviously made with no budget, made up of mainly color variations, the morphing image of an exotic dancer and music. This has to be one of his lowest budgeted films. No sets except for an apartment, no real script, a situation rather than a story, a few lines of dialogue, one costume, an alley exterior, glittering nothingness. And Franco was his own operator! The last days of Orson Welles come to mind. Summed up with this note: Y NUNA MAS SE VOLVI A OIR HABLAR DEL SHOW DE PAULA-PAULA.

It's a magical, blessedly brief, experimental neo-noir which illustrates a terrific musical score and the director's boredom with the illusion of reality.. Like Jess himself, it's infused with joy and delightful surprises. Things that our troubled world can never get enough of.

Jess Franco has been in the movie business for as long as I've been alive and I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Once upon a time in Spain Luis Garcia Berlanga told Jess Franco that all you need is a movie camera.... If Berlanga was his inspiration, along with Stevenson, many may be taken aback by the severe minimalism of the project. Franco regulars just need to know that it's %100 Jess Franco.

Wearing his dark glasses, a bright red pullover and smoking with class, Jess seems energized and younger than ever in the introduction and interviews. He defines himself as "young at heart" and is anxious (at 79!) to make a new series of films. He reminds us that age is not a matter of years but a state of mind. I don't think I've ever seen him as relaxed and happy. Interesting that he states this is his 209th [!] film. That's about what I put it at considering the alternate versions in his extensive filmography.

This DVD is worth seeing just for the Franco introduction, explanation and whatever-is-on-his-mind interview, all of which equal around 30m. And the Gulda Jazz soundtrack is worth the price of admission alone. This may be its creator's lowest- ever budgeted film but one of the best ones in terms of listening enjoyment. It is tier one Jess Franco? Or tier two? Part of the experience when dealing with Jess Franco is finding your own personal system of categorization.

It is presented in anamorphic widescreen (it looks about 1.85:1). Video and sound quality are sharp and clear.

Having seen it twice now I can attest that it takes on added interest on a follow-up visit as a stylish bookend, an extended lap dance or a pleasant way to spend an hour.

*Thanks to Alberto Sedano, Carlos Aguilar and Francesco Cesari.

(c) Robert Monell 2010

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10 February, 2010

Franco's Newest!

Thanks to Francesco Cesari for this cap from Jess Franco's. I now have the DVD. When I see it I will post a review.

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08 February, 2010

EMILIO VIEYRA (1920-2010)

The ugliest monster in the history of horror is sent out to...

abduct the careless into a mad world of erotic torture!

SANGRE DE VIRGENES aka BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS: Banned in Argentina! The first vampire film made in Argentina, but it ended up banned as too bloody and sexy. Watch it on a double bill with FEMALE VAMPIRE...

Emilio Vieyra, sometimes referred to as the Roger Corman of Argentina, created his own New Wave of South American Cinefantastique starting in the 1960s with such low budget, sexy, imaginative, pulpy and just plain outrageous titles as SANGRE DE VIRGENES (1967) and PLACER SANGRIENTO aka FEAST OF FLESH. His most original and bizarre title was LA VENGANZA DEL SEXO, which would become THE CURIOUS DR HUMPP (1969) in its dubbed US version which was sexed-up with nudie inserts by Jerald Intrator. I have all of these on DVD and watch them frequently. Highly entertaining and stylish they all have a unique atmosphere.

Shot in lurid hues, SANGRE DE VIRGENES is very much in the spirit of Jean Rollin and especially Jess Franco's LA COMTESSE NOIRE considering that vampire bats were suggested by filming seagulls through red filters! It works. THE CURIOUS DR HUMPP has a mad scientist, acting under the orders of another mad scientist's disembodied brain, sending out pug-ugly robots to kidnap men and women for transgressive sexual experiments. Shot in atmospheric b&w at times it seems very similar to Jess Franco's Dr. Orloff films and THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z in mood, imagery and plotline.

Vieyra also made Women in Prison/Women in Peril items (CORRECCIONAL DE MUJERES; Perversion in a Girl's School), a western and a politically themed musical, ADIOS ABUELO (1996) before retiring.

I just happened to revisit Vieyra's noirish PLACER SANGRIENTO aka FEAST OF FLESH last weekend before learning of the director's death on Jan. 25 at the age of 89. PLACER... presents yet another mad scientist (hiding behind an ugly-man Halloween mask) hypnotizing (with haunting organ music), kidnapping and then murdering sexy women with overdoses of heroin! At times PLACER...plays like an unhinged episode of the old DRAGNET TV series with nudie elements added. It was shot in Paraguay during 1965, according to Pete Tombs' essential text MONDO MACABRO, which has a chapter on his work.

If you haven't discovered Vieyra's delightfully twisted universe now is the time to do it. MONDO MACABRO offers SANGRE DE VIRGENES on DVD with English subtitles and there is a SOMETHING WEIRD DVD of THE CURIOUS DR HUMPP with a ton of supplements.

1. Cargo de conciencia (2005)

2. Adiós, abuelo (1996)
3. Maestro de pala (1994)
4. Tómame (1992)

5. Narcotráfico, juego mortal (1989) (V)
6. La clínica loca (1988)
7. Obsesión de venganza (1987)
8. Correccional de mujeres (1986)
... aka Women's Reformatory (USA)
9. Sucedió en el internado (1985)
10. Todo o nada (1984)
11. El poder de la censura (1983)
12. Comandos azules en acción (1980)
13. Comandos azules (1980)

14. Los irrompibles (1975)
15. La gran aventura (1974)
... aka The Great Adventure (International: English title)
16. Yo gané el prode, ¿y usted? (1973)
17. Simplemente una rosa (1971)
18. Así es Buenos Aires (1971)
19. La bestia desnuda (1971)
... aka El monstruo asesino (Argentina: alternative title)
... aka The Naked Beast (International: English title)
20. Los mochileros (1970)
21. Gitano (1970)

22. La vida continúa (1969)
23. Quiero llenarme de ti (1969)
24. La venganza del sexo (1969)
... aka The Curious Case of Dr. Humpp (International: English title)
... aka The Curious Dr. Humpp (USA)
25. Villa Cariño está que arde (1968)
26. Placer sangriento (1967)
... aka Feast of Flesh (USA: reissue title)
... aka The Deadly Organ (USA: dubbed version)
27. Sangre de vírgenes (1967)
... aka Blood of the Virgins (UK)
28. Dos quijotes sobre ruedas (1966)
29. Extraña invasión (1965)
... aka Stay Tuned for Terror (USA)
30. María M. (1964)
... aka Una mujer de la noche (Argentina: alternative title)
31. Testigo para un crimen (1963)
... aka Violated Love (USA)
32. La fin del mundo (1963)
33. Detrás de la mentira (1962)
34. Dr. Cándido Pérez, señoras (1962)

(C) Robert Monell, 2010

05 February, 2010

PETER MARTELL (1938-2010)

See Peter Martell as "Peter Martell" in Miles Deem's SAVAGE GUNS!


...to the video world of Jess Franco

Pietro Martellanza aka Peter Martell appeared in at least 40 films from 1963 to 2009, including two directed by Jess Franco. The ruggedly handsome ex-stuntman played Barnaby in THE BLOODY JUDGE (1970) and Dracula in KILLER BARBYS VS DRACULA (2002). One has to note how his appearance, beyond aging factors, transforms between those two markers. He obviously lived through hard times. Martell's ilfe took a downward spiral after appearing in numerous Spaghetti Westerns from the mid 60s to the mid 1970s. When the genre died he faded into obscurity and ended up living as a recluse in a van near his Alpine hometown, Bolzano, where he died Feb. 4. He reportedly attempted suicide before Jess Franco gave him a comeback role in his colorful horror-musical. He appeared in a few more films before his death at age 72.

Martell could have been a contender but his personal problems seemed to hold him back. He was finally given an apartment by the Bolzano town council as a shelter in which to live out his days.

He was an intense presence, especially as the frenetic, sleazy fall-guy in THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS and in some of his Spaghetti Western roles. He has an amusing walk-on as himself, alongside Gordon Mitchell, in a surreal moment in Demofilo Fidani's SAVAGE GUNS (1971).

A personal favorite role was as the impulsive astronaut who gives space station Captain Rod Jackson (Giacomo Rossi Stuart) a hard time in Antonio Margheriti's GAMMA ONE episode, PLANET ON THE PROWL. That was made in 1964. In 1965 he made an easy-to-miss appearance as another astronaut in Mario Bava's PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. He's seen on the spaceship's video screen communicating with Barry Sullivan early on. He jokes with the actor playing Sullivan's younger brother. He doesn't appear in the rest of the film, strangely enough. He seems to have either quit or was replaced for some reason.

Martell had a striking, vivid onscreen persona.

Thanks to Westerns All'Italiana blog and Nzoog for additional information.

02 February, 2010


Recommended to those interested in music, cinema and the way they interact.

Eric's website includes recent posts on the experimental use of music in the Alain Robbe-Grillet related films LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961) and N a pris les dés (1970).

Robbe-Grillet, Fano and N Took the Dice