30 June, 2014

Review: LES GRANDES EMMERDEUSES (1974) Updated Archived Review

 [This is an updated review originally published in the MOBIUS HOME VIDEO FORUM: EUROPEAN CULT CINEMA in Nov. 1999. Thanks to John Charles]

Image result for les grandes emmerdeuses

This is a delightfully sleazy Jess Franco nudie comedy romp, and I use the word "romp" with no irony intended. Jess directed under his "Clifford Brown" pseudo, and he probably forgot about it the day after shooting was completed. It all looks like it was shot in two and a half days in Super 8MM at some hotel in France where the film crew was probably hiding out from the cops. Lina Romay and Pamela Stanford (Lorna, the Exorcist herself!) jiggle their merry ways through this sleek put-on concerning two almost always naked diamond smugglers (guess where they hide the diamonds) who travel to Istanbul where they hope to fence the jewels. Hot on the trail are a pair of bumbling Interpol agents (Franco regulars Bigotini [rn Rick Deconninck]and Ramon Ardid) under the supervision of the director himself in a cameo that was probably dictated by lack of a casting budget. The women manage to elude their pursuers but run into the massive Radeck (amusingly incarnated by the spherical Victor Mendes) a sort of gangster-mad scientist who has developed a hairy monstrosity to whom our heroines will be fed if they don't deliver. 

It's all wild and crazy fun, part slapstick comedy, part porn, part Z grade Eurocrime, part horror parody, filmed with little or no budget, with plenty of those trademark zooms and without even the bare basics of a camera tripod or lights. The exteriors are mostly shot from a moving car and one can imagine the director hanging out the window with his hand held camera, zooming in and out of every object which caught his attention- a tree here, a bridge there, and so forth. All this will probably drive those insisting on the "well made film" up the proverbial wall, but I loved every minute of it. 

 Pamela Stanford [rn Monique Delaunay] in cat disguise...

 Lina and Pamela seem a lot more comfortable nude than most actresses do fully clothed, having a ball running around like hopped-up sprites, playing sexy tricks on the villains and donning bizarre disguises (Stanford has an outrageous wrap-around cat mask which she puts on before going into action). Franco provides a circular, interactive structure by beginning and ending with the ladies assuming sexy poses, teasing the viewer by looking directly into the camera and telling us of how their latest adventure went down. I was particularly amused by a scene of the elephantine Radeck attempting a melancholy tune at the piano in his castle.* This is a typically obscure in-joke which only those thoroughly immersed in Franco's alternate universe will catch on to. Others will stare in wordless amazement that this bleary trifle has even survived. I just kick back and enjoy

*This piece will be familiar to Jess Franco archaeologists. It's also heard under the credits of LE MIROIR OBSCENE and in LES GLOUTONNES (both 1973) and other Jess Franco related titles.

(C) Robert Monell, 2014

26 June, 2014

WHITE SKIN, BLACK THIGHS: rare Jess Franco film available..


Sexy Sisters DVD (Goya Collection) (PAL All Region) Mondo Erotico DVD (Jess Franco Goya Collection / In 80 Betten um die Welt (PAL All Region) White Skin Black Thighs (Goya Collection / Weisse Haut Auf Schwarzen Schenkeln) (Blu-Ray All Region) - See more at: http://www.diabolikdvd.com/category/Exploitation/White-Skin-Black-Thighs-DVD-(Goya-Collection-%5Bsl%5D-Weisse-Haut-Auf-Schwarzen-Schenkeln)-(PAL-All-Region).html#sthash.N0pqZE1E.dpuf
Sexy Sisters DVD (Goya Collection) (PAL All Region) Mondo Erotico DVD (Jess Franco Goya Collection / In 80 Betten um die Welt (PAL All Region) White Skin Black Thighs (Goya Collection / Weisse Haut Auf Schwarzen Schenkeln) (Blu-Ray All Region) - See more at: http://www.diabolikdvd.com/category/Exploitation/White-Skin-Black-Thighs-DVD-(Goya-Collection-%5Bsl%5D-Weisse-Haut-Auf-Schwarzen-Schenkeln)-(PAL-All-Region).html#sthash.N0pqZE1E.dpuf


White Skin Black Thighs DVD (Goya Collection / Weisse Haut Auf Schwarzen Schenkeln) (PAL All Region)
Rare Jess Franco film starring Kali Hansa that was originally attributed to Erwin Dietrich

PAL All Region
English Subtitles
- See more at: http://www.diabolikdvd.com/category/Exploitation/White-Skin-Black-Thighs-DVD-(Goya-Collection-%5Bsl%5D-Weisse-Haut-Auf-Schwarzen-Schenkeln)-(PAL-All-Region).html#sthash.sGQYksXU.dpuf


White Skin Black Thighs DVD (Goya Collection / Weisse Haut Auf Schwarzen Schenkeln) (PAL All Region)
Rare Jess Franco film starring Kali Hansa that was originally attributed to Erwin Dietrich

PAL All Region
English Subtitles
- See more at: http://www.diabolikdvd.com/category/Exploitation/White-Skin-Black-Thighs-DVD-(Goya-Collection-%5Bsl%5D-Weisse-Haut-Auf-Schwarzen-Schenkeln)-(PAL-All-Region).html#sthash.sGQYksXU.dpuf

19 June, 2014

Jess Franco's MACISTE films on DVD/Blu-ray

I would like to see both of Jess Franco's crazy 1973 no-budget MACISTE films, made back-to-back that year with the same main casts and locations, get HD releases. Has there been any other DVD releases since the 2013 Italian one of MACISTE VS. THE QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS? Blu-ray editions would be preferred or any High Quality DVD releases. The caps I've seen of this one look dodgy, as if mastered from an inferior, but watchable, VHS source.

Spaghetti Western icon Robert Woods played the evil knight Caronte in  LES EXPLOITS EROTIQUES DE MACISTE DANS L'ATLANTIDE aka Les Gloutonnes (1973) and Maciste's sidekick in MACISTE CONTRE LA REINE DES AMAZONES [seen in the caps below].

I find both of these fun, lightweight efforts with the amusing presences of Wal Davis [rn Waldemar Wohlfaart], Lina Romay, Alice Arno, and the always welcome participation of  Robert Woods, along with the entrancing Montserrat Prous, who also participates in Les Exploits Erotiques de Maciste dans L'Atlantide, a delirious composite and my favorite of the two. That one also has the equally essential presence of Pamela Stanford aka Monique Delaunay. Howard Vernon appears in other inserted scenes as "Cagliostro". Both were shot on locations in Portugal and Spain according to OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO.

Maciste contre la Reine des Amazones - trailer - YouTube

Sep 27, 2011 - Uploaded by Franconery01
Maciste contre la Reine des Amazones - trailer ... du chef d'oeuvre de Clifford Brown, alias Jess Frank, alias ...

Here are a few caps posted last year in THE FRANCO LOUNGE on THE LATARNIA FORUMS...

17 June, 2014

L'IMMORTELLE (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1983) Kino Lorber Blu-ray

This film has numerous similarities to Jess Franco's VENUS IN FURS: the same main location (Istanbul), similar characters and plot (a confused man pursues a dead woman) and conclusion. The differences are that Franco's film is in color, infused with Jazz and that Robbe-Grillet's film has absolutely no exploitation elements (nudity, violence) and is his only film which doesn't contain sadomasochistic elements.

The minimalist vs the psychedelic treatment of similar themes, characters, plots and locales...

 Photo: L'IMMORTELLE (Alain Robbe-Grillet, KINO CLASSICS Blu-ray) ... Messenger of Death.
Hell hound or Messenger of Death....

Francoise Brion and Jacques Doniol-Valcroze meet in Istanbul's cemetery of the living dead in Alain Robbe-Grillet's L'IMMORTELLE.

N (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze) a French University lecturer, arrives to fulfill his appointment in Istanbul but is both confused and fascinated by the exotic environment and mythology of the Turkish city. He meets the beautiful, remote L (Francoise Brion), seemingly by chance, and a mysterious man, M,  with two imposing hounds who seems to hover over her actions. He invites her to a reception at his apartment, and later they embark on several visits to such local attractions as the Grand Mosque and bazaar. Then L disappears from his life as suddenly as she appeared. Searching for her in the ancient city N becomes obsessed with her image and elusive presence. Finally locating her in the crowded streets one night they attempt to drive out of the city only to become involved in a fatal accident when one of M's dogs suddenly appears in the center of the road. L is pronounced dead. But is she? N embarks on another desultory search and final appointment in his personal Samarra.

This aforementioned similarities to Jess Franco's VENUS IN FURS: are probably not accidental. Robbe-Grillet is mentioned in word association game in NECROMONICON (1967), albeit in the German language, not the English language dubbing and Franco seems as totally immersed in the closed universe of S&M as ARG, both are European mavericks whom critics and audiences tend to love or hate with equal passion. 

Beside being chaste in terms of sex and violence, but not eroticism or anxiety, there's absolutely no "acting" or attempt at realistic movements or any movement at all by the actors in L'IMMORTELLE, they're mostly frozen in space, obviously at the insistence of the director. Totally alienating at each and every moment.With no zoom shots, conventional plot continuity, emotive acting, executed with rigid camera movements, a disjunctive editing style, avoidance of pretty compositions, but not picture postcard views of the city, which Robbe-Grillet favored over documentary realism. "Pierre Loti meets A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS." Nonetheless, the film does nothing to dress up the crumbling exteriors such as the ancients ramparts which surround the city and are seen in the opening and closing shots taken from a car on the highway. Automobiles, accidents, lights, mirrors, secret agent style suits and sunglasses play a large part in the ambiance of a film shot in the same year and location as Terence Young's 1963 Bond FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. But L'IMMORTELLE is the anti-Bond Eurospy film, the anti-Hollywood Love Story, a love story without love, the anti-Art Art film.

All of this insured the film's financial and critical failure, along with the writer-director's inexperience in such basic matters as communication with crew and actors, following continuity within and between scenes, allowing for improvisation and creative "accidents", all exacerbated by a restive crew and an actual revolution which occurred in Turkey while the film was shooting, putting this government sanctioned production in a distinctly uncomfortable position. All of this and more is outlined in humorous fashion by the late writer-director in a 32 m interview which, in this case, is probably best watched Before the feature presentation.

Given the technical/artistic flaws of this first film of a literary star, the Kino Classics HD transfer from original 35mm elements is as gorgeous as one can expect from a film made with blocked funds, during a revolution, with an increasingly uncooperative crew and clueless actors. It's also the anti-LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD from the author of that classic film. Same story, plot but totally different tone and style Robbe-Grillet was no Alain Resnais and seems less interested in "style" than in playing with structure while observing surfaces. This is a film completely obsessed with the surfaces of things, people, locations. There is no psychology, back story or message. What you see is what you get. Or maybe don't get. But that's OK. This is a film by the King of the Nouveau Roman. Imagine a Bond film by Robert Bresson or Carl Dreyer and you have a handle on it. Maddening, circular, obtuse and haunting, it's unlike any other film of Robbe-Grillet and any other film by anyone. The Georges Delerue score is laced with a particularly enchanting traditional Turkish song which provides a perfect audio environment for this exotic cocktail.

A 2014 promo short and trailers for three other Kino Classic Robbe-Grillet Blu-ray presentations are included.

Written and Directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Photography by Maurice Barry
Music by Georges Delerue

(C) Robert Monell, 2013

09 June, 2014

BLOODY MOON Blu-ray is now available!

Today is the official street date for this new Blu-ray upgrade of this notorious Jess Franco gore epic and it's highly recommended. You can almost see the mountains on the moon which the director's compulsive zoom lens often closes in on.

Jess Franco's 1981 contribution to the slasher genre was a German financed production, lensed in Alicante, Spain. It looks better than ever on this new Blu-ray edition from Severin Films. A stunning BD presentation which reinvents Jess Franco's Spanish lensed slasher epic as a series of candy colored gore tableaux; the detail, definition, sharpness and color are just dazzling. The clarity of each and every image is razor sharp and the luminosity it a 100% improvement over the previous DVD presentation.

International Boarding School of Languages, Alicante: During a dance at the language school for young women the facially deformed Miguel (Alexander Waechter) steals a Mickey Mouse mask and stalks an attractive student, brutally stabbing her to death in bungalow #13 to stop her horrified screams when she discovers his grotesque features. Several years later Dr. Domingo Aunous (another cameo by Uncle Jess) releases Miguel from psychiatric confinement into the care of his sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganhoff), the lover of Alvaro, the language school's director who is trying to cover up his financial mismanagement. The couple are mistrusted by the elderly Countess, who controls the family fortune and intends to disinherit niece Manuela, leaving Miguel set to inherit the Countess' considerable estate.

But Miguel will become a key suspect when several of the new batch of female students are found murdered in cursed bungalow #13. Is this all a plot by Manuela and Alvaro to set up Miguel? You bet. In the meantime the frantic imagination of the recently arrived Angela (Olivia Pascal), looking more like a runway model than a student, becomes overstimulated as the killer begins to leave body parts in her room like ritual offerings.

The Jess Franco circular saw massacre....

The original German title card...

The 1080 Full HD resolution presentation of this German LISA-RAPID-METRO Film Production emphasizes more than any previous release Jess Franco's ability to make a slick, seamless mainstream thriller very much in the style of  John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN and the thrillers of Brian De Palma, and both directors are directly quoted in Franco's crafty, often delirious mise-en-scene. The opening murder, presented through the eyes of the killer's "party" mask, in this case Mickey Mouse, is the most obvious example. The glossy, red, white and blue color design is more prominent than ever now, perhaps an indication that the director was going "the American way" while recalling the American flag color scheme of De Palma's 1981 BLOW OUT. Images from the notorious head severing by circular saw sequence can also be seen in Amoldovar's MATADOR.

Special features include the documentary interview Franco Moon (18m 51s), directed by David Gregory and the original theatrical trailer (1m 39s), the latter featuring some alternate English language dubbing. Franco obviously was displeased with many aspects of this project, on which he worked as a gun for hire on a script concocted by the producer, Erich Tomek.He also discusses his displeasure with the Gerhard Heinz disco-dancing score, remembering he wanted to use the music of Pink Floyd. It's a revealing interview in that it shows how he was able to operate both as a hack and a [frustrated] auteur. Notice the very last image, the clasped hands of the incestuous siblings, which the title Directed by Jess Franco is printed over. A final indication that the director's intended focus is on the twisted love story which lies underneath the generic slasher elements 

Miguel, on the other side of the mirror, a recurring image in the films of Jess Franco.

Overall this is an impressive upgrade for this uncharacteristic entry in the Jess Franco canon. This is a clean, luminous, crystal clear transfer from elements which do not evidence any noticeable wear and tear. A few seconds of blood spattered gore have been included from inferior elements, in snippets often missing from other video versions. This version is complete. BLOODY MOON was a video nasty and banned in the UK.


02 June, 2014

The Return of Dr. Mabuse

Jess Franco's 1973 Dr. Mabuse thriller, LA VENGANZA DEL DR. MABUSE will be released in Germany on DVD this summer. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be English friendly. But it will be nice to have a HQ DVD of it, one of the director's oddest and most esoteric titles. It's interesting to note that this pretty much killed off the German produced Mabuse series, initiated by Fritz Lang with DR. MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922) and reignited by Fritz Lang's DIE TAUSEND AUGEN DER DR. MABUSE (1960). Franco employs plot elements from his GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (1961), updating the story, filming in color and setting it in a science fiction environment. An amusing, comic book style adventure featuring all the nudity and scenes cut from the Spanish release.
Für eine größere Ansicht klicken Sie auf das Bild

Dr. M schlägt zu - Kultige Mabuse-Verfilmung (Pidax Film-Klassiker)

Jack Taylor , Siegfried Lowitz , Jess Franco    Freigegeben ab 16 Jahren   DVD
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