This is Carnal Cinema

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.

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Flowers of passion, flowers of perversion

“There are thorns everywhere,
but along the path to vice roses bloom above them.”
(Mirvel, from Eugenie . . . the story of her journey into perversion)

I have not forgotten about this blog and hope to have another essay up in the next week or two. I’m about two-thirds of the way through a piece on the films Franco made with Harry Alan Towers.

Edited to add, the article is now ready and can be found here.

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Francophillia

I broke down and watched The Awful Dr. Orlof  for the first time in at least 15 years last night, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit. Yes, it does seem a little old fashioned at times (it is well over fifty years old), and it’s pretty mind-boggling to think that Franco would make A Virgin Among The Living Dead within ten years, but it’s historically significant, beautiful to look at and the obvious starting point for my project. So, the plan as it stands is to work chronologically and write a series of essays based on the key periods and relationships (I appreciate many of the films were co-productions). I envisage them breaking down as follows. Note, what follows is not a comprehensive list of the films produced during the respective phases, it’s simply the ones I intend to refer to.

Eurocine in the Sixties

The Awful R. Orlof (1962)
The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus (1962)
Dr Orlof’s Monster (1964)

With Harry Alan Towers

Justine (1968)
99 Women (1969)
Venus in Furs (1969)
Eugenie, the story of her journey into perversion (1970)
Count Dracula (1970)

Although it’s not a Towers production, I might also address Necronomicon / Succubus here, given it is a key film and fits more naturally with this group than any other.

Starring Soledad Miranda

The Devil came from Akasava (1970)
Eugenie DeSade (1970)
Vampyros Lesbos (1970)
She Killed in Ecstasy (1970)

For Robert DeNelse

Plaisir a trois (1973)
La Comtesse Perverse (1974)
Lorna the Exorcist (1974)

Eurocine in the seventies

A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1971)
Female Vampire / La Comtesse Noir (1973)
Exorcism (1974)
The Hot NIghts of Linda (1975)

For Erwin C Dietrich

Barbed Wire Dolls (1976)
Doriana Gray (1976)
Blue Rita (1977)
Greta the Mad Butcher / Wanda the Wicked Warden (1977)

Golden Films

Macumba Sexual (1983)
Sexual Story of O (1984)
The Night has a Thousand Desires (1984)

Later works

Killer Barbies (1996)
Tender Flesh (1997)
Marie Cookie and the Killer Tarantula (1998)
Vampire Blues (1999)

As we’ve seen, a number of key films fall outside of these groupings – in addition to Succubus, I’m thinking of The Demons, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein and Bloody Moon – so I will either incorporate them into the relevant timeframe or write individual reviews.

Totally unrelated, I revisited The Opening of Misty Beethoven recently, and my thoughts can be found here.

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You are the nadir of passion.

I’m working on a review of ‘The Opening of Misty Beethoven’, which should be up this week or next.

Is it the best adult film ever made? I’m not so sure. Perhaps we should try to unpick the objective and the subjective in answering that question. I think it’s probably fair to say it’s the best made of the Golden Age films, albeit that’s not the same thing.

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A comprehensive set of reviews?

Having now uploaded the majority of the reviews from the original Carnal Cinema project (I have four or five up my sleeve which I’d like to rework slightly before reissuing), I have a better sense of the remaining work, should I ever choose to resume it. As stated on the ‘about’ page, my priority for the coming year is to focus  on Jess Franco and Jean Rollin. Uploading those old reviews did stir something within me though, even if it was only regret at not finishing what I’d started.

Anyway, in order to provide (something like) a comprehensive overview of the genre, I think I would need another 15 to 20 reviews. Off the top of my head, the gaps I would need to fill are as follows:

The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1975)

Water Power (1976)

Through the Looking Glass (1976)

V – The Hot One (1977)

Pretty Peaches (1978)

Ecstasy Girls (1979)

Cafe Flesh (1982)

New Wave Hookers 2 (1991)

Nothing to Hide 2 (1993)

Dog Walker (1994)

Cafe Flesh 2 (1997)

Awakening (1999)

Dark Garden (1999)

Les Vampyres (2000)

Taboo 2001 (2001)

The New Devil in Miss Jones (2005)

Upload (2008)

Wasteland (2012)

The New Behind the Green Door (2013)

To access the existent reviews, click here.

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