28 June, 2008

CANNIBAL TERROR is coming, PAPAYA is here!

The German "Red Edition" DVD of CANNIBAL TERROR. The upcoming Severin DVD [Jul. 29 is the new street date] should be definitive and hopefully make these previous versions obsolete.

Frequent Jess Franco actor-production manager Antonio Mayans aka Robert Foster takes Pamela Stanford (LORNA, THE EXORCIST) out for a walk in the jungle and then things get complicated! No wonder it was banned in the UK! A screenshot from another European DVD, see cover below.

Previous R2 DVD. See footage from Jess Franco's MONDO CANNIBALE aka CANNIBALS (1980) recycled in the jaw dropping, gut munching European Trash
Cinema [this film really defines that term] epic TERREUR CANNIBALE aka CANNIBAL TERROR! And yes, it was a Video Nasty.

I received a notice from Severin Films that their DVD of Alain Deruelle's (as Allan W. Steeve) CANNIBAL TERROR, the 1981 Eurocine backed excursion into Le Bad Cinema Cannibal terrain, has been rescheduled for release on July 29th. This will be the first US DVD presentation of this title.

In the meantime I have watched Severin's new DVD of Joe D'Amato's intriguing 1978 melange of tropical voodoo rites, gore, late 70's style soft core interludes and Third World politics, PAPAYA: LOVE GODDESS OF THE CANNIBALS. I will post my review as soon as possible.

(C) Robert Monell, 2008

20 June, 2008


I found this email from Carlos Aguilar in my inbox today. His new book, co-authored by Anita Haas, on the recently deceased American actor John Phillip Law, looks like a must-have. Carlos is a friend and one of Spain's eminent film historians with numerous published articles and books [including one on Jess Franco, with whom he worked on several of the director's 1980's Golden Films Productions] to his credit.

John Phillip Law had a long, compelling career as an actor and I look forward to reading and reviewing this book which has arrived just at the right time.

Thanks, Carlos. [Robert Monell]

John Phillip Law's Book‏
From: carlos aguilar

Hello everybody,

One month after the death of our dear friend John Phillip Law, our book on him finally exists. Almost 300 pages, nearly 600 images (photos, posters, lobbycards, etc), filmography and bibliography, prologue by Ray Harryhausen... in a beautiful bilingual Spanish/English edition, called "John Phillip Law. Diabolik Angel".

The cover is attached.

Information and orders: www.scifiworld.es/diabolikangel/

Thanks a lot, and may John live on in our memory.


Enviado desde Correo Yahoo!
La bandeja de entrada más inteligente.

16 June, 2008


Ask Macho Jim...

I have come to a conclusion recently. In a sense Euro-cult, or as I like to term it, EUROPEAN TRASH CINEMA, has come to be accepted by the Mainstream [mainstream culture, discourse, even academia] as a classification. I mean mainstream thought/discourse in contemporary America, Europe and even the Third World.

I have recently noted that I now get regular visits here from Hanoi, developing Africa, Iran, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories besides New York, London, Paris, Russia, Brazil, Korea, Japan, you name it. It seems the entire world is interested in the topic of Jess Franco, even outposts I wouldn't have imagined.

I really think that Jess Franco, who is a brand name which is synonymous with European Trash/Cult cinema, has come to be, if not embraced, then accepted and known among Mainstream culture in many parts of the world. With the emergence of DVD and the internet there are no longer cultural boundaries as there were in the past.

Franco started wanting to be a mainstream director and his first films were musicals [LA REINA DEL TABARIN; VAMPIRESAS 1930] aimed at general audiences in Spain and Europe in 1960. Franco returned to making mainstream fare in the mid 1980s [in between bouts of hardcore, which was also finally accepted by the Spanish mainstream].

Now with regular books, periodicals, and retrospectives like the one starting June 18th at the Cinematheque Francaise it seems to me that Jess Franco has been repositioned very far from where he was when I first heard his name in 1969 and regularly started watching/collecting his films over twenty years ago.

In any case, here's a review of his 1983 proto-punk obscurity LOS BLUES DE LA CALLE POP, which is both mainstream and experimental in signification/intent. In a way, Jess Franco may be one of the pioneers of Punk Cinema, if there is such a thing.

I made a short, multi format film in the early 1970s which I carried around in a briefcase for a decade and showed to whomever I could corner. I once showed it to a fellow filmmaker who exclaimed, "it's the first Punk film!" I'm still trying to get it on my IMDB page! Punk isn't mainstream yet, is it? Maybe that's why I became obsessed with Jess Franco...


1983- 80 MINUTES Galan Video

DIRECTED BY JESUS FRANCO WITH: ROBERT FOSTER[Antonio Mayans], CANDY COSTER[Lina Romay], TRINO TRIVES, ANALIA IVARS, MARY SAD [Maria de la mar Sanchez], JOSE LLAMAS, Augustin Garcia, Jesus Franco, Juana de la Morena.

SHIT CITY (actually, Benidorm):
Felipe Marlboro, capably incarnated by Antonio Mayans ("Robert Foster"), is a seedy private investigator who takes up a missing person case at the behest of the girl friend of "Macho Jim" (Jose Llamas) in the punk infested coastal resort. It's a sinister, retro place reminding us at times of the mise en scene of BLADE RUNNER, only without sets, just the bright, tropical, tacky reality of Benidorm, a tourist trap on the Spain's east coast which seems to situated in a time warp where all the men seem to hang out in a smoky bar decorated with posters of Bogart and Mae West, waiting for trouble to erupt.

The residents of this corrupt town all look like they base their fashion sense on 1980's MTV punk rock videos. The men look like either Sid Vicious or a member of A Flock of Seagulls, and the women sport the slutty attire and pouty sexuality of the late Robert Palmer's back-up vocalists in the music video of "Addicted to Love." Likewise, (as the visual style of the film is comic strip array of primary colors and weird camera angles.
The plot has Marlboro enlisting the aid of piano player Sam Chesterfield (played by Jess Franco himself) in an all out effort to bust the town's drug and dirty money kingpin Saul Winston (Trino Trives).

This witty and visually striking neo-noir parody is one of Franco's personal favorites, and it's easy to see why. Almost every shot in the film is a loving homage to 1940s private eye cinema (such as THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP) filtered through a 1980s MTV-style lens.

Franco has stated that he attempted to create a sustained comic strip look, and he has totally succeeded in that while creating his most light-hearted film since his amusing 1967 spy spoof LUCKY, THE INSCRUTABLE. NOTHING is taken seriously, but it is a very serious hommage to a certain look. Antonio Mayans is the perfect fall guy in Franco's off balance world of pimps, whores, killers, and thugs. He's a brother to Al Periera in such films as BOTAS NEGRAS LATIGO DE CUERO, although the tone here is much lighter. Analia Ivars in leather, sporting an electric coiffure, is a perfect lean, mean femme fatale.

Franco stages all the standard private eye cliches in his usual off-kilter fashion. For instance, when Marlboro gets a beating for asking too many questions, the gangster who kicks the living daylights out of him (Augustin Garcia) is a flashy flamenco dancer who performs his dance steps in between each punch and kick. Most amusing of all is the twisted ending, where sex wins out over sentiment. It's also reminiscent of the FATAL ATTRACTION finale of BOTAS NEGRAS... .

Franco has filtered this personal project through red and blue filters, the tacky, brightly colored locations shot through diffusion lenses (his comment on the garish, tourista architecture of Benidorm) and a rousing New Orleans style jazz score by Fernando G. Morcillo. LA BLUES DE LA CALLE POP is a busy fiesta for the eyes and ear. It's his candy colored 1980s update 1940s Film Noir techniques. In a crucial casting decision Franco himself plays the piano man who "PLAYS IT AGAIN, SAM" for Mayan's update on Bogart's cynic in the classic CASABLANCA, that film's poster of Bogart is the generative image which adorns the wall of Sam's saloon.

Franco's experimental deployment of colored filters is especially interesting (as in the similar ESCLAVAS DEL CRIMEN) and makes me wonder why he didn't continue in this style. Instead, his next several films, such as DARK MISSION (1987) and DOWNTOWN HEAT (1990) were made in a much more "realistic" mode.

It should be noted that some of the eclectic cues composed by Fernando Garcia Morcillo can also be heard in his score for Raul Artigot's 1972, THE WITCHES MOUNTAIN.

This film is also very much in the satiric spirit of Robert Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE (1973), which also continually undercuts the Raymond Chandler mythology.

It's also the only film of I know of in which all the main male characters are named after popular American cigarette brands. Keep smoking, Jess! In this day and age, where smoking cigarettes is generally considered uncouth, filthy and dangerous to the smoker and those around him/her it's the ultimate example of cultural incorrectness. Jean Pierre Melville would have understood...

(c) 2007-2008 Robert Monell

14 June, 2008

Jess Franco to discuss NECRONOMICON this Wednesday...

Lorna Green (Janine Reynaud) loves everything which reflects.... Lorna Green. See more of Lorna, maybe, in the promised 84m version of NECRONOMICON to be projected in 35mm this coming Wednesday at the Cinematheque Francaise. Jess Franco is scheduled to be in attendance. Of course, what will actually unspool all depends on what print they have in hand.

Mercredi 18 Juin 2008 - 20h00 - SALLE HENRI LANGLOIS - VASTF - 35mm

The Cinematheque Francaise Jess Franco Retrospective will commence in high style this coming Wednesday, June 18th with the director himself on hand [along with Lina Romay] to present and discuss a 35mm showing of his 1967 NECRONOMICON [US title: SUCCUBUS]. This is reportedly not the familiar 79m US cut, released by Blue Underground on DVD, but the longer 84m European [perhaps the German language] version.

A longer German version did play in the US in 1969 in New York City at the same time as the dubbed, shortened SUCCUBUS was getting good reviews from the likes of Vincent Canby in the NEW YORK TIMES.

I have some hope this longer version can eventually be released on R1 DVD, perhaps this event might enable that to happen.

I sure wish I could be there in Paris to see this showing and ask Jess what he recalls about the various versions of this legendary title.

In any case, it's a very appropriate way to begin such this exciting retrospective.

09 June, 2008

A Tranquil Scene Study...

This idyllic natural location makes an appearance in at least two Jess Franco films.

Can you identify them?

Certified JF scholars will be able to add the name of the country where this location can be found.

Two films have been correctly named: this location in Sintra, Portugal appears in A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (1971) and CECILIA (1981). I also think it may appear in the escape scene near the end of WOMEN IN CELLBLOCK 9 (1977). Congratulations to the posters who were correct and thanks to everyone who participated.

And thanks to Eric Cotenas for the screengrab...

(c) 2008 Robert Monell

02 June, 2008


Jerry Cotton (George Nader) saves Manhattan from the dastardly extortionist Larry Link (Horst Frank) in Harald Philipp's Um Null Uhr schnappt die Falle zu set to the unique sonic environments of....

...German composer Peter Thomas

Some of which ended up on the soundtrack heard under this scene in Jess Franco's...

Actually it should be prolific composer Peter Thomas meets prolific director Jess Franco, probably without either's knowledge. Someone, probably the sound editing team hired by the US distributors, placed an ethereal female vocal cue from Thomas' jazzy soundtrack for the 1966 Jerry Cotton item Um Null Uhr schnappt die Falle zu into the compiled music track [credited to Manfred Mann and Mike Hugg] of VENUS IN FURS (1969).

This scat style interlude is repeated throughout Um Null Uhr schnappt die Falle zu but heard in VENUS IN FURS during the scene where Maria Rohm seduces Margaret Lee in the latter's photography studio. Once you hear it, you won't forget it.

Obviously Manfred Mann and Hugg composed some of the music they are seen playing, but there remain numerous other mysterious cues in the final mix, including one later heard on the soundtrack of the WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN, the US version of Leon Klimovsky's LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS (1970).

The fact that Thomas wasn't credited in VENUS IN FURS indicates that his composition was culled from library tracks.

I recently made the connection when I picked up a DVD-R of the Cotton title at a fan convention, Um Null Uhr schnappt die Falle zu is a wonderfully entertaining item which I'll be reviewing in an upcoming EUROSPY FILES blog.

(c) Robert Monell, 2008