29 September, 2008


"Dave Tough" disguised as Joe D'Amato...

I'm looking for any type of graphics, adverts, stills, promotional material from Jess Franco's very obscure and difficult to see hardcore effort, DE SADE'S JULIETTE (1975), featuring Jess Franco historian {MANACOA FILES}, actor {TENDER FLESH}, and screenwriter PLAISIR A TROIS, Alain Petit. This French-Portugal co-production promptly sunk into oblivion after garnering abysmal reviews, including a stinging one from Franco friend-actor (FEMALE VAMPIRE) J.P Bouyxou in SEX STAR SYSTEM.

This was reportedly JF's first hardcore feature (shot as hc, rather than just a softcore with added hc inserts) and I know where the film resides now but I would like to see any original adverts for a special project and a possible future DVD release. Any help would be much appreciated. You can email me at monell579@hotmail.com or direct me through the comment area below.

Franco signed DE SADE'S JULIETTE as "Dave Tough", the only time he used that name (in homage to a favorite Jazz musician). Parts of this can be seen in the Joe D'Amato composite JUSTINE (1979), mixed in with footage from SHINING SEX and MIDNIGHT PARTY (both 1975). More about D'Amato's JUSTINE and other versions in a future blog.

Any information on graphic materials for D'Amato's JUSTINE would also be welcome. Thanks again for reading.

(c) Robert Monell, 2008

25 September, 2008


There is a fascinating thread on the upcoming Severin release of Jess Franco's DEVIL HUNTER over at the Mobius Home Video Forum's European cult cinema board [http://z8.invisionfree.co...?showtopic=9648&st=0] focusing on some of the expectations and some of the frustrations faced when putting a complete as possible version of this sought-after title together for a definitive DVD. I'm also waiting for some further clarifications from SEVERIN and will report anything additional here. I must say that I'm pleased they are taking the time and care to do these right.

Here's the most recent update copied from the Severin website:

[Copied from the Severin website]
The nightmare of Franco restoration

As some of you have no doubt noticed, all of our recent releases have missed their street dates. This is due to a number of factors, not least the extra attention we gave to The Inglorious Bastards which took our attentions away from all subsequent titles for several weeks. Please see the new street dates below for our upcoming titles.

Then there's the nightmare of the two latest Franco titles: Bloody Moon and Devil Hunter. In all the hundreds of DVDs we've been involved with producing, these two have been among the most problematic. With Bloody Moon it was a case of the negative missing a few seconds of violence. We went to the trouble of checking the original negative against an old VHS release of the film and saw no differences. The problem was that the VHS we were supplied with from a Franco authority was also cut! It was only when we received the finished Hi Def master from Germany that we realized the problem. A search ensued for film elements of the missing footage but turned up nothing. The only existing film prints in Germany were also shorn of this footage and we could turn up no other prints in countries that the film was released theatrically. The footage was considered lost except for VHS versions of the film. We incorporated the footage into the master from a VHS source but it looked terrible, particularly when compared to the beautiful Hi Def transfer from the negative. Then the German licensor unearthed a broadcast master that had been struck from an uncut print. We were then able to incorporate the footage into the film.

Devil Hunter looked like it was going to be much more straightforward. We had our new Hi Def transfer compared to releases of the film from all around the world by a Eurocult scholar. He happily reported to us that our version was the most complete in the world, containing footage that was not available in any released version. He also urged us to include the French track on the disc as it was a far superior track to the English dub. We were happy to oblige. However, our master did not contain the French track, even though the check disc we had sent to the scholar for comparison purposes did. There was no explanation forthcoming from the lab in Madrid as to why this would be. We had the scholar ship his check disc to us but it got lost in the mail. So we had another Franco expert ship us a DVD-R of a French version to us. Lo and behold this French version was some sort of bastardized TV cut short by 10 minutes. It looked like we would have to go without the French track until we were informed that a copy of the DVD-R had been created before it shipped to the scholar.

Both of these films are now finally off to authoring. If there are no major problems with the check discs then they will be released on the dates below.

Apologies to our Severin loyals for these delays and we will be making every effort in the future to ensure that this kind of backlog does not happen.

Bloody Moon, Devil Hunter and In the Folds of the Flesh will now be released on 28 October.

19 September, 2008

Jess Franco's Friend

Up periscope... A few blogs back we noted an Easter Egg on the new Severin CANNIBAL TERROR DVD on which Uncle Jess discusses his involvement with the enjoyably impoverished French-Spanish Le Bad Cinema classic, ZOMBIE LAKE (19800. Can anyone name the prolific Jess Franco actor/friend/colleague in the above image? You can also attempt to list the numerous appearances he has made in JF films over the last four decades. If that's too daunting a task how about your favorite performance by this very capable and underrated actor...

Leading the attack on the village...

Drinking with buddies before incineration...

14 September, 2008


Jess Franco: Still breaking the rules, subverting the system and confounding expectations...

Many thanks to Alex, the creator of El Franconomicon, for writing and translating this review of Jess Franco's newest film.

INT: Fata Morgana, Carmen Montes…
POSPRODUCCIÓN: Lina Romay, Puri Luquero.
2008. Manacoa Films. Rodada en Málaga entre 2007 y 2008. 150 min. Color.

Reviewed & translated by ALEX MENDIBIL


A group of women, maybe ghosts or demons, are locked in the crypt of a cemetery, condemned by an old curse of more than 100 years. They can't get away, enclosed between the walls of a lost pantheon, punished for something they committed in a previous existence. However, this kind of succubus, lascivious and wicked, doesn't seem to suffer from the curse and spend their time in all sorts of sexual games, year after year, century after century, ignorant of the exterminating angel who lurks and seeks to destroy them forever.

With this simple plot, told by a voice-over and some superimposed titles, Jess Franco composes his longest and more experimental film. A lesbian porno in two parts where scenes of non-stop-slow-motion sex set the rhythm of a story in which time doesn't exist, despite the passing of centuries as the narrator tells us. Franco said in one interview that he had been inspired by the works of the gothic writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, but in fact tells a untellabe story, in the sense that there are no events to tell, there is no narration, no knot, just a short presentation and denouement. Between one and another, the director immerses the viewer in a dimensionless limbo, a hypnotic succession of erotic and pornographic images that try to evoke the hundred years of time suspension of the curse. In a more conventional movie, this would be resolved with a one minute ellipsis, but the director decided to make that ellipsis the complete film, as if he wanted to involve the audience in the harsh punishment suffered by these women.

This decision, clearly anti-cinematic, at least in mainstream cinema, fits with the gradual annihilation of cinematic clichés that Jess Franco is trying since the eighties, which has hardened to the extreme in the last video years, as in LA CRIPTA. The 80's Golden Films productions showed how the Franco universe could get rid of some of its essential elements without losing its essence. In films such as MACUMBA SEXUAL (1981) or EL SINIESTRO DR. ORLOFF (1982) we deal with familiar themes and classic gothic characters like the vampire or the mad-doctor, but without all the acting, set-ups or typical wardrobes. Castles, candles, crucifixes, cemeteries and sci-fi machinery were replaced by extravagant beach houses, fashionable clothing and everyday objects. The result was disconcerting, but somehow managed to articulate a less figurative language, more abstract, in which the renewed versions of Orloff, Al Pereira, Radek or Red Lips still had sense. With the shift to video from late 90's, the destruction of the classic cinema code was definitive: no set-ups at all, or overtly fake sets, natural lighting, direct sound, video distorting effects, and above all, non-professional actors doing very histrionic playing or, in the other hand, very naturalistic, almost cinéma vérité. Any device used to maintain the illusion of cinema is removed or deformed to the parody, as if he would like to emphasize the death of that former cinema and propose an unrepresentative cinema, a cinema abstract (1).

In LA CRIPTA DE LAS MUJERES MALDITAS, the rupture with mainstream cinema is complete. The film takes place in closed rooms half-empty and white, apart from that the only thing we are allow to see are a few images of a cemetery repeated in a loop and the blurred image of a angel shaped statue that illustrate the final battle against the damned women. We know about that battle by the voice over, since the image only shows abstractions, difficult to decipher at times. Adding to all of the above (lack of set-ups, costumes, performances, video effects… etc.), Franco finally gets rid of the last two pillars of classic cinema: the director and the screenplay. As told before, it's a story without story but Jess Franco goes further and invents a funny trick to show that he too disappears from the shooting, making the characters to shoot the film with video cameras and, thanks to some strategically placed mirrors, discovering that nobody is directing them on the set.

Fata Morgana, the real protagonist of the film, assistant director and cinematographer, makes the film literally in front of our eyes, shooting and playing one of the cursed women at the same time. Nothing is hidden, everything is exposed: lightning, cables, the micro and even the back of the camera. It is not a video documentary, not video-creation, not experimental video, it's another thing which we still have no name for. The only concession to the genre seems like a William Castle style joke: at the half point of the film we read a "to be continued…" title, fade to black, beginning again shortly after the "Part 2", following with the same movie. According to Jess Franco, this is his own version of the double-bill features in the GRINDHOUSE (2007) style.

(1) Being the exception to this trend SNAKEWOMAN, where Jess Franco makes a film in the classic cinema standards, despite being shot on video.

(c) Alex Mendibil 2008

13 September, 2008

El Franconomicon


We'll be adding a permanent link to this new Jess Franco related blog. In the meantime, there is a Spanish language article up on Franco's newest LA CRIPTA DE LAS MUJERES MALDITAS, an experimental feature [150m] which sounds very intriguing. This was screened at the Cinematheque Francaise JF Retrospective and will hopefully be available on DVD sooner than later.

I'm hoping Alex will send an English version for our non-Spaninsh speaking readers.

Here's a paste-in from the Publico.es site:
Jesús Franco hoy

"Ahora hago, incluso más que antes, aquellas cosas que no me dejaron hacer. Luis Buñuel me dijo, cuando hizo El fantasma de la libertad, que era una de las muchas historias que tenía guardadas en un cajón y que no había sacado porque no le hubieran dejado hacerla antes. Yo ahora estoy haciendo eso, sin prisas. Estoy terminando La cripta de las mujeres malditas, basada en una historia de Daniel Hawthorne".

I spoke with Jess about a Nathaniel Hawthorne project in 2005, about which he seemed very enthused-describing it as a surreal horror-adventure moving freely through space-time,* but who is "Daniel Hawthorne"?!

*Jess said it would be in the spirit of DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN (1971), which is one of his personal favorites from his filmography. I'll be reviewing the various video versions of that in the near future.

(c) Robert Monell 2008

12 September, 2008


I'll just go and make my own Nazi-zombies film!

"Hell no, not on THAT budget!"

On the set of ZOMBIE LAKE everyone is wondering, "Where the hell is Jess?"

Uncle Jess has finally come clean, revealing that he did indeed write the original script for the 1980 Eurocine Zombie co production, EL LAGO DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES aka ZOMBIE LAKE. Franco's exact involvement has been a question mark for some time and he is not credited on the film itself. Franco appears in a surprise 6m "Easter Egg" on the new Severin CANNIBAL TERROR DVD [it can be accessed but toggling up to CANNIBAL TERROR on the main menu]. While fiddling with an unlit cigarette (light it up, Jess!) our favorite director states that he wrote the script and was set to direct but withdrew because he considered the budget to be too low[!]. Jess Franco refusing to direct a Z grade zombie film?! The budget must have been very, very, very, very low indeed. Even Jess Franco has his limits.

The first place I had heard of Jess' possible involvement was in Phil Hardy's often spurious Horror Encyclopedia and an article on Franco by Tim Lucas in an early VW issue. I also seem to remember Franco discussing this in a late 1980's issue of FANGORIA. But this is the first time of which I'm aware of Franco himself confirming that information.

ZOMBIE LAKE does seem to have some plot similarities to Franco's own LA TUMBA DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES (1981) and his earlier EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF (1964). Jean Rollin also told me in an unpublished interview I conducted with him in 1990 that Franco didn't show up for the first day of shooting and he was called in on very short notice. "This is not my film," he said. I don't think he was too happy with the result, but it sure has entertained many Z movie fans over the years.

Franco also discusses Alain Deruelle, the French porn specialist who directed CANNIBAL TERROR and some other obscure Eurocine productions in the short, but fascinating interview. Check out my review of Severin's new CANNIBAL TERROR DVD presentation on my CINEMADROME site by clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar on the left.

07 September, 2008


Jeremy Richey, who blogs compellingly on his highly regarded MOON IN THE GUTTER, now brings his considerable writing talents to the films of Jean Rollin with this recommended blog. I just put up a link on our list over on the left sidebar. Check it out...

06 September, 2008


Más allá de Esplugas City By Rafael de España, Salvador Juan i Babot looks like an interesting, illustrated text on the once busy Spanish studio/production company which hosted many low budget Eurogenre productions, including THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU. Jesus Balcazar is listed as a screenwriter on some prints of that 1969 Jess Franco film.

Brothers Jaime Jesus and Alfonso Balcazar also directed and wrote a number of films, including Spanish Westerns, crime and erotica.

They produced/coproduced a lot of interesting movies in their time. Spanish correspondent Nzoog provided the amusing story of how, when the popular Spaghetti Western cycle was winding down, the Balcazar's burned down the Western town they had built, filming the inferno for a future production!

Here's a list of Balcazar productions copied from the IMDB:

Production Company - filmography
Joven y la tentación, La (1986) ... Production Company Locas vacaciones (1984) ... Production Company Sechs Schwedinnen auf Ibiza (1981) ... Production Company Violadores, Los (1981) ... Production Company Primeras experiencias, Las (1975) ... Production Company Inmorales, Los (1974) ... Production Company Juergas de 'El Señorito', Las (1973) ... Production Company Passi di danza su una lama di rasoio (1973) ... Production Company Bandoleros della dodicesima ora, I (1972) ... Production Company Ritorno di Clint il solitario, Il (1972) ... Production Company Casa de las muertas vivientes, La (1972) ... Production Company Judas... ¡toma tus monedas! (1972) ... Production Company Destino: Estambul 68 (1970) ... Production Company Hombre del puño de oro, El (1970) ... Production Company Belles au bois dormantes, Les (1970) ... Production Company ¿Quién soy yo? (1970) ... Production Company Misterio de la vida, El (1970) ... Production Company Españolear (1969) ... Production Company Turistas y bribones (1969) ... Production Company The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969) ... Production Company Due volte Giuda (1969) ... Production Company Legge della violenza - Tutti o nessuno (1969) ... Production Company Señorito y las seductoras, El (1969) ... Production Company Sonora (1969) ... Production Company Crónica de un atraco (1968) ... Production Company Sicario 77, vivo o morto (1968) ... Production Company Goldface, il fantastico superman (1968) ... Production Company Palabras de amor (1968) ... Production Company Rouble à deux faces, Le (1968) ... Production Company Gentleman Jo... uccidi (1967) ... Production Company Con la muerte a la espalda (1967) ... Production Company Coplan ouvre le feu à Mexico (1967) ... Production Company Clint el solitario (1967) ... Production Company Professionisti per un massacro (1967) ... Production Company Spia, spione (1967) ... Production Company Superargo contro Diabolikus (1966) ... Production Company Grande colpo di Surcouf, Il (1966) ... Production Company The Texican (1966) ... Production Company Uomo dalla pistola d'oro, L' (1966) ... Production Company Cinque della vendetta, I (1966) ... Production Company Asso di picche operazione controspionaggio (1966) ... Production Company Yankee (1966) ... Production Company Surcouf, l'eroe dei sette mari (1966) ... Production Company Kiss Kiss... Bang Bang (1966) ... Production Company Operazione Goldman (1966) ... Production Company Baraka sur X 13 (1966) ... Production Company Cuatro dólares de venganza (1966) ... Production Company Dinamite Jim (1966) ... Production Company Ráfaga de plomo, Una (1966) ... Production Company Sette magnifiche pistole (1966) ... Production Company Thompson 1880 (1966) ... Production Company Im Reiche des silbernen Löwen (1965) ... Production Company Ritorno di Ringo, Il (1965) ... Production Company Centomila dollari per Ringo (1965) ... Production Company Dama de Beirut, La (1965) ... Production Company Agente Z 55 missione disperata (1965) ... Production Company Train d'enfer (1965) ... Production Company Tigre se parfume à la dynamite, Le (1965) ... Production Company Uomo che viene da Canyon City, L' (1965) ... Production Company Tierra de fuego (1965) ... Production Company Durchs wilde Kurdistan (1965) ... Production Company Due sergenti del generale Custer, I (1965) ... Production Company Pistoleros de Arizona, Los (1965) ... Production Company Agente 3S3: Passaporto per l'inferno (1965) ... Production Company Pistola per Ringo, Una (1965) ... Production Company Letzte Mohikaner, Der (1965) ... Production Company Oklahoma John (1965) ... Production Company Perché uccidi ancora (1965) ... Production Company Trionfo dei dieci gladiatori, Il (1964) ... Production Company Piso de soltero (1964) ... Production Company Invincibili dieci gladiatori, Gli (1964) ... Production Company Totò d'Arabia (1964) ... Production Company Revoltosa, La (1963) ... Production Company A tiro limpio (1963) ... Production Company Constance aux enfers (1963) ... Production Company Al otro lado de la ciudad (1962) ... Production Company Bella Lola, La (1962) ... Production Company Castigadores, Los (1962) ... Production Company Solteros de verano (1962) ... Production Company Cena de matrimonios (1962) ... Production Company Centauros 1962 (1962) ... Production Company Ibiza (1962) ... Production Company Rejón, El (1962) ... Production Company Tierra de fuego (1962) ... Production Company Toro, vida y muerte, El (1962) ... Production Company Velázquez (1961) ... Production Company Altair (1960) ... Production Company Encrucijada, La (1960) ... Production Company ¿Dónde vas triste de ti? (1960) ... Production Company Hay alguien detrás de la puerta (1960) ... Production Company Sueños de mujer (1960) ... Production Company Charlestón (1959) ... Production Company Locuras de Bárbara, Las (1959) ... Production Company Fiesta en Pamplona (1959) ... Production Company Muralla, La (1958) ... Production Company Amore a prima vista (1958) ... Production Company Conte Max, Il (1957) ... Production Company Yo maté (1957) ... Production Company Marisa la civetta (1957) ... Production Company Herida luminosa, La (1956) ... Production Company Huida, La (1956) ... Production Company Nunca es demasiado tarde (1956) ... Production Company Contraband Spain (1955) ... Production Company Once pares de botas (1954) ... Production Company Relato policíaco (1954) ... Production Company Catalina de Inglaterra (1951) ... Production Company
Más allá de Esplugas City: Balcázar ... - Google Book Search