My Primary intention for this blog, as stated on the ‘about’ page, is to write appreciations of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, two directors whose work has been important to me for a quarter of a century now. While I’m not yet sure what form these pieces will take, I am fairly confident they will be challenging to write. In the case of Rollin, whose most compelling films seem more concerned with evoking states in the viewer than adhering to cinematic conventions, I suspect the work either resonates or it does not. In the case of Franco, the challenge is even more daunting: how does one even begin the evaluation of a director with more than 150 films to their name and a career spanning more than 5 decades? I think the only sensible answer is ‘in pieces’.
Perhaps inevitably given its length, Franco’s career can be broken into identifiable chunks. We have the black and white films made at the beginning of his career, the films produced by Harry Alan Towers, by Robert De Nesle, Erwin Dietrich, and so on. I think this is the basis on which I will approach the task. For me, Franco’s most interesting films date from about 1968 to 1975, a period in which he directed approximately 50 films, including those made with the aforementioned Towers and De Nesle, with Soledad Miranda and, thereafter, Lina Romay. This is where I’m going to focus my attention, for the time being at least. I’m not going to call it a plan, but it might be the first step towards one. Perhaps I’ll warm up by listing some of the key films from this period for those who want to play along at home.
“I’m a doll. A real doll.”
I haven’t forgotten about or given up on this blog. My circumstances simply changed and I’ve not been able to dedicate any resource to it.
My intention is to write an essay on the Women in Prison films Franco directed for Erwin Dietrich – specifically Barbed Wite Dolls, Wanda the Wicked Warden, Love Camp and Women in Cellblock 9 – and publish it this side of Christmas. I will then endeavour to get one more piece up over the festive period – most likely a review of either Doriana Grey or Blue Rita.
Updated to add, Barbed Wire Butchers can be found here.
“You are like some mysterious, compelling character from the pages of a fairy tale.”
This may be my last post for a little while. Fittingly, it feels like the end of a chapter. My review of Lorna . . . The Exorcist can be found here.
“We must know evil to be able to fight it.”
As stated elsewhere, my first exposure to Franco’s cinema came in the mid-nineties, when Redemption Films released a slew of key titles on VHS. Sadly, the UK was subject to severe censorship during this period and a number of those releases – A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Female Vampire, to name but two – suffered cuts as a result. Worse still, two films – namely, Demoniac and Sadomania – were banned outright. I’m working on a review of the former – better known as Exorcism these days – at the moment. In the meantime, my long overdue introductory essay can be found here.
Updated to add that the review of Exorcism can be found here.
“He’s a fascinating man. I can see why you’re so in love with him.”
I look at three early appearances of Lina Romay here.
“You’ve always fascinated me – yet at the same time you frighten me.”
Much later than anticipated, my thoughts on three monster movies Franco directed at the beginning of the seventies can be found here.
“I knew it would be a commercial disaster, I knew it from the very beginning.”
My thoughts on Rollin’s divisive La Rose de Fer can be found here.
“Only love can save us from boredom and numbness.”
My review of 1972’s brilliant, albeit bleak, Sinner can be found here.
“I started shooting for my personal pleasure exclusively, since the others had rejected me.”
My first exposure to Rollin came in 1993, when Redemption released Requiem for a Vampire on VHS. I’ll have a review of this signature work up in the next week.
Edited to add, it can now be found here.
“I am a shadow among the shadows.”
Franco directed approximately 30 films between 1971 and 1974, the overwhelming majority of which were funded in whole or in part with French money. This is the period in which he worked extensively for Robert De Nesle, in which he renewed his working relationship with Marius Lesoeur of Eurocine.
I will be covering this period with three essays, which will breakdown as follows:
‘Christina on the other side of the mirror ’ will deal with A Virgin Among the Living Dead and The Other Side of the Mirror.
‘Robert De Nesle and The Monsters from Hell’ will deal with Dracula Contra Frankenstein, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein and La Fille de Dracula.
‘La Comtesse Romay’’ will look at Plaisir a Trois, La Comtesse Perverse, La Comtesse Noire, Lorna the Exorcist and probably Exorcism.
I may supplement these with reviews of individuals films which do not sit easily within these groups, such as The Demons and Sinner, perhaps even The Lovers of Devil’s Island.
I’m afraid life has got in the way of late and my essay on the films Franco made with Soledad Miranda is taking much longer than expected. In the meantime, I’ve uploaded old reviews of two adult movies from 1981, Svetlana’s Bad Girls and Roberta Findlay’s The Tiffany Minx.
Updated to add ‘The Million Eyes of Soledad’ can now be found here.