Oh Dietrich

 

“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.

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Updated to add, Barbed Wire Butchers can be found here.

Possessed by Jesus

 

“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.

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The Sadist of Eurocine

 

“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.

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Updated to add that the review of Exorcism can be found here.

Virgins & Vampires

 

“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.

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Edited to add, it can now be found here.

Jess the Francophile

 

“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 TroisLa Comtesse PerverseLa Comtesse NoireLorna 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.

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A Certain Tendency of French Cinema

It occurs to me that building a blog around the careers of two directors could be seen as a tacit acceptance of auteur theory, of the idea that the director is in a sense, the author of the film, its principle creative force. Of course, film is an inherently collaborative artform. Even a renaissance man like Franco, who has been known to write, direct, score and operate the camera, could not work in isolation. Films are made by groups of people.

They are also made, in most cases, as commercial propositions. They are financed by people who hope to see a return on their investment, in most cases. One doesn’t need to dig too deeply into the filmographies of our principles to find examples of producers requesting specific content to increase a film’s saleability, sometimes in specific territories.

The producer’s role often extends beyond even that, to hiring a director to helm a particular project, and this nudges us towards my point. If we accept the Franco and Rollin are (were) auteurs – that their films bear their mark, either in content, execution or both – are they always auteurs, in all circumstances? Should we treat Rollin’s pornographic films – which were made pseudonymously in order to pay the bills – with the same seriousness as his core filmography, whatever that may be? It’s difficult. Franco made numerous films pseudonymously, as a hired gun, in genres for which he had disdain. Do we ignore those?

In the general sense, as a fan and a cinephile, minor works are of interest, regardless of the production history and / or circumstances in which they were made. In practical terms, well, that may be a different story. It was never my intention to cover every Franco film – how could I – but on some level I had intended to cover every Rollin. I think it’s more likely I’ll take my lead from Virgins & Vampires – indirectly from Rollin himself – which means I will not be covering the Michel Gentil films but I will look at Phantasms.

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