15 January, 2016

FALO CREST (1987) The Jess Franco XXX Files

An updated review of this outrageous XXX take off on the 1980s US Television show.
Alternate title: CAPRICES SADOS POUR SALOPES DU PLAISIR/Producer: Phalos Films, Madrid/Director: Lennie Hayden [Jess Franco & Lina Romay]/Screenplay: Lennie Hayden, Lowel Richmond [J. Franco & L. Romay]/DP: Terry de Corsia [Jess Franco]/Music: Daniel J. White/Edited by Rosa Maria Almirall [L. Romay]/Agfacolor/Approx. 80m. Widescreen.
Cast: Jane Morgan (Marzan) [Lina Romay], Gina Corrington, Andre' White, Brenda Haven [Elisa Mateo], John First [C.Gonzalez Ordi], Mel Power [A. Bartos Velasco], Linda Ewing [M. Fernandez Moreno, Sado Summers [Jose Miguel Garcia Marfa, Carlos
Robert Monell's photo.
*
Quiroga. Also listed in adverts: Fess Parker [!], Lola Falona, Twin Welamy, Wendy Cano, Andrew White, Sigourney Grant. Shooting locations: Benidorm.
One of two parodies of 1980s hit US television series, this one taking off from FALCON CREST. This one is ever-so- slightly superior to PHOLLASTIA, which parodied DYNASTY. There's not as much characterization here and the settings aren't as "upscale" as the other but a nonstop torrent of bitchy, sometimes amusing dialogue, which only Jess Franco could have written, saves this from being just another boring fuck and suck fest.
The ridiculous excuse for a "plot" involves an ongoing conflict within the devious Corrington family and and their feud with the Channings. Both hot to trot families are attempting to gain the rights for aphrodisiac fruit which grows on the inherited Channing estate. The hostess dreams that her guests will drink her mixture of wine and semen. Everyone ends up imbibing and a lengthy orgy ensues. Twosome, threesome, and moresome encounters rule the evening until everyone is drunk on sex and more sex.
The action unfolds in "real" time before and during the party on the Channing properties. Melissa Channing hosts the affair with zest and a clever plot to get the rights signed over to her without any hitches. The orange drink is mixed with "delicious" semen and drunk like champagne as a wife remarks, "It's so embarrassing to see my husband shoot cum in public!" as another woman drinks the spent semen out of a Phallo Crest wine glass. More witty Franco dialogue ensues until the company collapses into a heap of sweaty flesh. Lots of gynecological close-ups of sex acts make up most of the runtime here.  Lina Romay's brisk editing does keep things moving....
Neither of the two hardcore spin offs of popular American TV shows became profitable due to the miscalculation of spending too much on professional hardcore actors and the costs of the productions themselves. When they were finally sold the price barely covered the costs and there wasn't a huge audience for what must have seemed like a clever marketing idea.
It should be noted that Angela Channing in the original FALCON CREST TV SERIES was played by Jane Wyman, the former wife of Ronald Reagan, who was President of the United States during most of the series run.

Falcon Crest (TV Series 1981–1990) - IMDb

*1980s era Spanish VHS covers. No DVD releases. Thanks to Alex Mendibil and Ferran Herranz for the images.
(C) Robert Monell, 2015

30 December, 2015

DRACULA VS DRACULA


Dracula  and his guest in COUNT DRACULA.

BELOW: Dracula's dogs/German Shepherds representing the wild wolves of Transylvania in Jess Franco's EL CONDE DRACULA (1970)

Severin Films new COUNT DRACULA Blu-ray may be my favorite Jess Franco related release by them in 2015. It's not as good a film as VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970), another stunning Severin HD release this year, but seeing it in HD lets us see it as never before possible. An overriding fact for me is the US Home Video debut, also in HD, of Pere Portabella's experimental making of documentary, filmed during the late 1969 Barcelona shoot, is included in the release. This alone makes this a must-have for serious collectors. Followers of Spanish genre cinema, Dracula adaptations, horror film history, international experimental cinema and the parallel careers of Jess Franco and Portabella are given a convenient way to compare and contrast two very different works by two very different filmmakers on the same subject.

Franco and Producer Harry Alan Towers set out to make a faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's famous late 19th Century novel. With an enthusiastic Christopher Lee, Hammer's Dracula, on board everything should have went right. But what remains is problematic as a "Jess Franco film", a horror film, a DRACULA adaptation. As horror historian David Del Valle notes in his detailed commentary, Franco "did" DRACULA with the later VAMPYROS LESBOS, a supposed adaptation of another Stoker story.* For my taste, both DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN and LA FILLE DE DRACULA (1971), featuring Howard Vernon as a shriveled, cartoon Dracula, are closer to the mark. Why is this?

My introduction to the film was via a local television broadcast in the mid 1970s. I was a confirmed fan of the Hammer Dracula's, especially HORROR OF DRACULA (1958) and DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1965), which also featured Lee as a much more athletic Count than he is in Franco's film. I had already heard of Jess Franco by reading a men's magazine article in the late 1960s about his notorious X rated (in America) SUCCUBUS [NECRONOMICON] (1969). But it would be at least another decade before I would see that on a poor VHS dupe. After viewing COUNT DRACULA I wasn't anxious to see another Jess Franco film any time soon. It started with those damn German Shepherds standing in for wolves of Transylvania, first seen during the coach ride where Dracula drives Jonathan Harker (Fred Williams) to his castle. That everything was painfully out of focus didn't help. It seemed a poorly photographed, rushed, cheap production, carelessly planned and, at best, routinely directed. And it didn't follow the promise of the title card that the story would be told exactly as Stoker did. Sometimes exact faithfulness is not the way to go. NOSFERATU (1922), the classic silent version directed by F.W. Murnau, is most interesting in the way it departs from the novel. Max Schreck as Count Orlok looks nothing like the king vampire described in Stoker's prose. Orlok resembles a rodent which has someone taken on human shape. That look is continued with the appearance of Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog's 1979 remake, although the actor adds considerable pathos to the character. The full title of the Murnau film, NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORROR correctly states its tone, pacing and texture. It's a  piece of melancholy music suffused with dread, illustrated by Expressionist compositions. Tod Browning's 1931 DRACULA, based on the hit stage play, is as static as an over rehearsed theater piece, but Bela Lugosi is hypnotic in the lead, even though the second half trails off into soporific dialogue scenes. It too has a musical quality, struck in the opening strains from Tchaikovsky's SWAN LAKE. Browning may have had a more suggestive, subtle cinematic work in mind if one considers some of his later statements, and Universal recut the picture, shortening it. Jess Franco, working with Lee in the title role, worked with producer Towers, to stay with the novel's description of the Count, and he's a rather sad antique, albeit a deadly one, who talks nostalgically of the history of his family and homeland. His white hair and moustache in the early scenes conform closely to Stoker's original description and as the film proceeds the hair turns black as he gorges on a series of victims. The blood is the life and reverses the aging process. But he's never as menacing as
Schrek, Lugosi or the swashbuckling Dracula in the Hammer films starring Lee. Severin's HD presentation gives the film greater sharpness and more enriched color than all previous home video releases. The high definition detail is extraordinary and focuses attention on the very artificial looking cobwebs seen throughout the castle, the overhead wire mechanism which drives the bats and makes the suddenly revived stuffed animals which the heroes encounter at one point seem less menacing than ever.

Franco's famous crash zooms seem to be utilized for mere convenience, to avoid the time it would take to do additional set-ups, rather than the space-collapsing devices which give such films as DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN a compellingly abstract, almost post-modern quality.The jarring telezooms into coffins, landscapes and objects seem to announce a personal stylistic choice in that film rather than a cost and time saving measure, although they probably were also used for that reason. Hammer's Dracula films always looked lush and more well resourced than they actually were, EL CONDE DRACULA looks rather tattered in comparison. The obviously fake boulders thrown onto the gypsy caravan and the burning of Dracula in his coffin throw us out of the movie at a crucial moment. The film ends in a flurry of more shaky telezooms.

The brooding, symphonic, urgent Bruno Nicolai score creates most of the atmosphere throughout and makes up for the visual awkwardness of many key scenes. The living dead girl manner of Soledad Miranda is electrifying in the scenes she shares with Lee and provide memorable frissons. Franco himself seems rather dispirited in his appearance as the clinic employee. Perhaps that's because the director himself was becoming deeply disillusioned with his work for Towers, the film's co-writer and co-producer. Franco was obviously becoming frustrated and bored as an employee of the Towers film factory. Just compare his energized presence as the inquisitive writer in EUGENIE DE SADE (1970), made just before this film and without Towers overseeing the production as writer-producer. It comes as no surprise that COUNT DRACULA would be Franco's final directing job for Towers.

The factory process of commercial filmmaking in Spain during the horror boom would become an even more interesting subtext in Portabella's intriguing experimental documentary on the making of EL CONDE DRACULA.

Franco struggled to make a personal film while remaining true to the source material, but Portabella's unique film deconstructs both the final product and workaday production of it. Franco did bring considerable artistry to the final product but CUADECUC-VAMPIR, opens up the actual shoot, infuses it with an eerie, abstract poetry and provides another subtext, that of making a commercial horror film on an iconic subject in late 1960s Spain still ruled by the dictator Francisco Franco. Spain welcomed international film productions in the 1960s as a way of increasing cultural exchange, boosting an uncertain economy and bringing foreign investment in the national coffers. Parts of DR. ZHIVAGO and Sergio Leone's wildly successful Spaghetti Westerns used Spain's desert and mountain regions as a ready made exotic backdrop. Costs were low there and the locals were grateful to get steady work on US, Italian and other co-productions. Portabella, who had produced Bunuel's notoriously banned (in Spain) VIRIDIANA (1961) had already rattled the authorities there, and he was much more subversive in every regard than EL CONDE DRACULA's director at the that time, although when Franco later cut himself loose he would evolve into a master of subversive genre cinema from the 1970s onward. 

ABOVE: Not produced by Hammer Films, of course, but an interesting mistake.

Portabella shot his film in high contrast black and white, sometimes the image goes into negative, creating a further sense of unreality, projecting the footage of the shoot into an alternate dimension. It chronicles the shoot in roughly sequential order but selects key scenes and then shoots them simultaneously to the actual production from different camera angles, sometimes revealing the cast and crew (including Jess Franco) as they go about their work. Soledad Miranda looks directly into Portabella's camera and flashes a demure, somewhat chilling smile. Christopher Lee mugs for the camera and seems to be having a good time on the set as he reaches out toward Portabella's camera as if to grab it while a jarring sound is heard on the soundtrack. Most importantly, Portabella, like Murnau, understood that the story of Dracula was best told without words, the stumbling block in the Lugosi version. The best moments in the Hammer Dracula's were the wordless moments of menace just before and during the appearances of Lee's Count. It should be noted that Franco's DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN contains no dialogue during its opening scenes and most of of its runtime. What dialogue there is is functional, delivered with dispatch and minimized by the director and actors.

The use of sound is quite unusual and distinctive. Most of the footage is either silent or appears with music, loud crashing sounds, creating a soundscape which operates in counterpoint to the images. Footsteps are heard but they don't quite synch up with the footfalls in the scene, a train is heard but it doesn't seem to be the modern one seen suddenly cutting across the screen. The arrival of Harker by coach in Transylvania is here scored with disturbing crashing sounds while the arrival a 1960a black American sedan, delivering Maria Rohm on set clad in a stylish floppy hat, leopard skin coat and movie star sunglasses is accompanied by dreamy jazz.

The black and white images have a very grainy texture, enhanced by the 1080 HD resolution. A very different version of the novel unfolds in Portabella's footage, one which somehow is much closer to the tone of the original prose than Jess Franco's finished version. Capturing a sense of dread between the shots of the actors in informal groupings or preparing for an imminent shot. The final scene bursts into synchronized sound as Lee reads the final lines of the novel, in which the destruction of Dracula is described. Set in the actor's dressing room, he addresses the audience directly, speaking of the economy of the prose and notes some of the descriptive details. The destruction of Dracula in the is, of course, quite different, replacing it with the burning of the Count in his coffin after which the body is dumped over the castle walls. The staging, shooting and editing of the scene leave much to be desired and one is struck by how simple and superior the actual ending is as Lee reads them in his resonant voice. He then closes the book and stares into camera for an unnervingly long time before Portabella is heard calling, "cut"! Those few lines are really all that is needed to make an effective closing scene.  Lee and Portabella obviously had a much better sense of the what made the novel so haunting and memorable than did the writer and director of EL CONDE DRACULA. That's why this HD release of both films is so essential for those interested in the novel, the history of Dracula films, Spanish horror, experimental cinema and the career of Jess Franco.
(C) Robert Monell, 2015

14 December, 2015

ANNUAL POLL: Best Jess Franco DVD/Bluray releases of 2015

It's been a very good year for DVD and especially HD releases of Jess Franco films. Please vote for your favorites of 2015 by clicking on the Poll at the top left. We'll be announcing results on 1/2/16.
Vampyros Lesbos SPECIAL EDITION keyart
Looking forward to another years of varied, surprising HD releases including DAUGHTER OF DRACULA, SHINING SEX, COUNTESS PERVERSE, to name a few....
DVD - Erotico

Justine - Una Minorenne Deliziosa
[8057092007808]

This product was added to our catalog on 11/06/2015.Regista: Jesus Franco
Attori: Alice ArnoLina Romay


17 November, 2015

EUGENIE...THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (Jess Franco, 1970) Mondo Digital Review Link


I hope to see this welcome HD upgrade of this essential title asap. In the meantime here is a link to an early review on MONDO-DIGITAL...

Color, 1970, 87m. Directed by Jess Franco Starring Maria Rohm, Marie Liljedahl, Jack Taylor, Christopher Lee, Paul MullerBlue Underground (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), Mediumrare (UK R2 PAL), Umbrella (Australia R0 PAL) / WS…
MONDO-DIGITAL.COM

16 November, 2015

Some random ROLLS ROYCE BABY trivia

Just a random trivia nugget regarding Rolls Royce Baby: The exterior of Lina Romay's luxurious mansion in the film is actually Villa Wesendonck, originally the home of Richard Wagner's benefactor and most important financial backer Otto Wesendonck and since 1952 is part of the Rietberg Museum in Zurich.


Eagle-eyed viewers who've also viewed Dario Argento's Phenomena will recognise the cinematic use of this historical building again, fittingly as 'The Richard Wagner School for Girls'.


What is 'He's Dead Because of the Burglars'???


An interesting little tidbit...A filmography of Jess Franco films in an early issue of the UK horror magazine Samhain (Issue 5, Sept/Oct 1987) has something called 'He's Dead Because of the Burglars' listed as one of his films from 1979, though in my years of reading Franco articles/information I’ve never seen any other reference to this extremely bizarre ‘mystery’ title. Neither have Robert Monell or Francesco Cesari. This could be either (a) an obscure retitling (b) a never-filmed project, perhaps briefly mentioned by Franco in an old interview or elsewhere (c) an error by the authors of the filmography (d) a fictitious title dreamed up by someone (e) a long-lost film (unlikely). Note that The Hot Death aka 99 Women has been erroneously included here.

26 October, 2015

Jess Franco Horror Film Countdown to Halloween...


Our continuing Jess Franco Film countdown to Halloween briefly considers the 1982 LA MANSION DE LOS MUERTOS VIVENTES, a Golden Films Internacional Production shot totally in the Canary Islands at the Tropical Hotel, which becomes a sort of late 20th Century equivalent of a zombie haunted castle. In fact, a group of 17th Century "monks' live in a nearby monastery, which does indeed appear to be 300 years old and on nights when the wind blow through the local palm trees, causing the monastery bell to toll eerily the monks appear to do their sinister work.


First there was the Spanish Inquisition, then there was the regime of Francisco Franco, then some time after his death in 1975, there was "Democracy" or a period of adjustment leading to something else. That something else is the subject of this film, which the director terms one of his most "Spanish" of films, about the Spanish Church, the ruins of Spanish Catholicism which refuse to disappear but hide angry men and frightened women, libertines and avengers, all feeling entitled. 

Mansion of the Living Dead Clip on Vimeo

vimeo.com › Severin Films › Videos
Vimeo
Oct 13, 2009
This is "Mansion of the Living Dead Clip" by Severin Films on VIMEO

But there is much more than meets the eye, as usual in the best, most personal films of Jess Franco and this is certainly one of his most idiosyncratic efforts, often mislabeled as a failed attempt at a "Blind Dead" zombie film a la his Spanish horror colleague, Amando de Ossorio. These may seem like brothers of the cloth  to the Templars of de Ossorio but they are actually a sect of modern local men, frustrated enough or bored enough, or perhaps insane with the "religious" passion of the Spanish Inquisition to punish "sinners" in this case loose women who come to the hotel for fun in the sun.

Carlos Savanorola (Antonio Mayans) is, as his name suggests, a holdover from the Inquisition who tortures his real life wife by chaining her to her bed while withholding food for days on end, humiliating and starving the poor woman, who by this time has been driven insane. He even sprays her food with rat poison at the end as the ultimate sanction for being a "bad" woman. Some critics have seen this as a misogynistic tract featuring sexual violence against sexually exploited (by the film) women. Actually, it's an attack on misogyny disguised as "religion" or conventional morality or political expediency. The "zombies" aren't undead, they are very much alive men in monk's robes and plastic zombie masks who abduct female tourist and torture, sexually mutilate, murder them to fulfill a twisted agenda. History is cyclical rather than linear in Jess Franco's equation, as often is in Spanish art, whether it be Picasso's GUERNICA, the plays of Arrabal or the epic of Cervantes. Men are locked into social and psychological roles which target women for victimization. The "erotic" scenes in the film aren't really very erotic, merely featuring a lot of naked flesh and playing to the Clasificada S market. That's the through-line in Franco's deliberately stuttered superstructure. It's not unlike one of the mad episodes in Bunuel's THE MILKY WAY (1969), although not at all in the charming Arthouse vein which the much more respectable Spanish maestro fit so comfortably into.
  • ión
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  • Trailer
  • Críticas
Our heroines are German barmaids who have rented a suspiciously cheap bungalow on the beach under the bilious gave of Carlos, who is the hotel's owner, manager and tour guide. But you don't want to go on one of his tours because they lead to the... bloody monks. The women are all loud, rude and ready for action... with each other. Fun loving lesbians who hang around nude as meat cleavers fall from the sky. It's Jess Franco surrealism all the way, and the empty hallways of the hotel are lit with expressionist care. Somehow, there's a palpable aesthetic here as the monks file past the camera and the women are pursued, stripped, raped with daggers thrust into their vaginas as the monks pray over their dying, bleeding bodies. The screams mingle with the tropical winds which gently shake the palms, the monastery bell tolls over the unheeded cries in the night.

This is much more of a personal project for Jess Franco than the cheap zombie thrills of LA TUMBA DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES (1981), where the undead are Nazi zombies guarding treasure, and the supernatural is interrupted by WWII war movie stock footage from a hack Italian vehicle (Alfredo Rizzo's I GIARDINIE DEL DIAVOLO). The gore effects are no better in MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD, but they don't have to be because it's not literal but figurative violence which is being examined. A history of sexual violence displayed as exploitation but developed as genre satire where cultural signifiers abound in an oneiric atmosphere where nothing and everything is real.

*Above painting is (C) Amando de Ossorio

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

24 September, 2015

THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU was released on September 24, 1969

Happy Anniversary to Jess Franco's THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, which was released theatrically in the US on September 24, 1969. KISS AND THE KILL is the alternate title, also an alternate version with a different, tighter edit and some new music added under the opening credits? Does anyone know the composer of that alt score? I actually prefer this version, which moves with dispatch and doesn't seem to sag in the middle, as does the uncut, longer version. I also believe the new opening of this version was borrowed, consciously or unconsciously, by RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for the opening scene in that mega-hit.

16 September, 2015

This Saturday on 8 Madrid TV: 23.40

image
A personal favorite to be shown on Spanish TV this weekend. Hopefully this will be a new HD remastering from the original camera neg. It's a visually stunning film, which I've had on KING VIDEO for years, in Spanish language, and would be a perfect candidate for a HD uprade.  
An Erotic Eurospy thriller about a ruthless search, by Antonio Mayans and Lina Romay, for a hidden cache of gold bars. Only playing a Liszt piano piece can reveal the location of the gold. Someone please tape this!
A rare Clasificada S, no budget masterwork, from the man who loved secret codes and private jokes.

11 September, 2015

COMING SOON: The Definitive Jess Franco Book!

C'est Worth becoming a subscriber at any level. I've read Alain Petit's THE MANACOA FILES in French. Now this essential work on the career of this tyro filmmaker has been greatly expanded, updated and will be available as a huge 700 plus page book in French, as an English ebook, with numerous bonus materials included. Alain is the internationally respected film historian who collaborated with Jess Franco as a writer and actor in a number of his films [THE MIDNIGHT PARTY, TENDER FLESH] and has an intimate, exhaustive knowledge the man and his filmography. Click on the link and you can examine the contents, see images, watch videos and preview the book's layout.

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28 August, 2015

DEVIL HUNTER-CANNIBAL TERROR HD package

OK, here's the story. A sleazy Hollywood producer hires a mercenary (Al Cliver) to find a missing blond starlet whom he has heavily invested in.... Stop right there! This could be the story of the latter part of Jess Franco's career, after he was a "promising" young talent with a hit under his belt, THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF (1961) and had parted ways with enterprising producer Harry Alan Towers after EL CONDE DRACULA (1969). Jess Franco was always seeking producers and producers were always seeking him to make cheap, sexy thrillers/comedies/adventures/horror films with alluring international sex starlets. He made them with dispatch and delivered them on demand. In this case the starlet was German and she was playing the victim of a kidnapping. By the time DEVIL HUNTER [onscreen title: EL CANIBAL] came to his table in 1980, a Eurocine-Lisa Films-JE Films coproduction with Italian genre icon Al Cliver in the lead, Franco was back in Spain and looking to keep steadily employed.

The first time I saw SEXO CANIBAL/JUNGFRAU UNTER KANNIBALEN it was the poorly dubbed English language version on the vintage Trans World Entertainment VHS, THE MAN HUNTER, a literal translation of its Italian release title, IL CACCIATORE DI UOMINI... It seemed like a completely impersonal, poorly/quickly made cannibal-sleaze-gore knock-off with a repellent racist subtext and a misogynist tone illustrated by the continuous torment, bondage and rape Ms. Buchfellner suffers. Cut to 90 minutes, in full screen and with a unstable image it wasn't a good introduction to the work of Jess Franco, who eventually vocalized his disdain for the cannibal genre (i.e. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST). Basically, he saw this paycheck as a way to make a "monster movie" and that's exactly what it is. Except that the "monster" is a towering black man who walks around the tropical locations nude, seemingly drugged out (the out-of-focus/smeared POV shots suggest a starved-for-tender-flesh delirium) and in search of fresh human meat. Then there's the budget VIDEO ASIA [Terror Tales Vol.4] DVD release, as THE DEVIL HUNTER, on a double bill with another Spanish horror co production, Manuel Cano's zombie-gore 1972 VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST, the English language version of a slightly different Spanish version. It seems to be a slam from VHS. The problem with this DEVIL HUNTER release is that it cuts the entire opening credits sequence and features a print from a digitally censored Japanese source. The bottom quarter of the frame is cut off to block out the Japanese subtitles. The audio track is English. Given the digital censoring, the cut-off framing and inferior dubbing it's barely watchable but acceptable as is the TWE tape. Severin's DVD also had its problems with a color drained image which at times improved and a some scenes had a fogged look. On the plus side it was the longest (102m) release about 12 minutes longer than the previous videos and DVDs. A German DVD from X RATED KULT also exists which I haven't been able to screen but it is also reportedly in the 90s minute range. The new Blu-ray is a 1080p Full HD Resolution upgrade of the Spanish print previously released by Severin, featuring the Spanish language track as an extra, replacing the additional French track on the DVD.

DEVIL HUNTER is not Jess Franco at his worst and it is far from his tier one efforts but it does have the "Jess Franco" feel, aesthetic and thematic unity. I find it a kind of fascinating self portrait if one can see the mercenary played by Cliver as Jess Franco in the new 1980 film market place, back in Spain, trying to make films, but having to depend on Eurocine, Spanish producer Julian Esteban and the German Lisa Films company for material, financing, actors and locations. Having to hunt for a job of directing, dealing the the Devil (producers) for the sake of the joy of making cinema and a bag full of loot. The deliberately out of focus shots from the "monster's" POV were a good idea, unfortunately many other shots are also similarly "out-of-focus"--as if the monster's consciousness had somehow taken control of the mise-en-scene. This is the kind of fascinating accident which can only happen on a Jess Franco shoot.  There are also striking shots of the flora around Puerto Santo and the film opens with a colorful plant bud, zooming back to an array of jungle greenery flecked with red growth. Then we cut to the native woman being pursued by the local cannibal tribe, which is intercut with American starlet Laura Crawford (Playboy Playmate Ursula Buchfellner) being pursued by the international press for a photo shoot.* As in Ruggero Deodato's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1979), the press are also the cannibals.

Adding to the primitive atmosphere are the occasional guttings and the vocal delirium of Carloto Perla's voodoo style moaning of cues credited to Jess Franco and Daniel J. White. Al Cliver is a reliable actor when it comes to playing stoic adventure protagonists (Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE) and Franco associate Antonio De Cabo makes for a suitably loathsome lead villain, as the head kidnapper who spends his idle time raping his chained up victim. Unpleasant stuff, for sure, Franco made sure to hit all the exploitation angles. Everything appears to have been shot in one take by the usually more stylish DP Juan Soler Cozar (GEMIDOS DE PLACER). The KING KONG finale, with the nude devil fighting our white hero Cliver for the possession of the almost always nude Buchfeller, combines the most racist/misogynist tendencies of this sub genre and Franco serves it up without art or hesitation. It's almost cowboys and Indians, or white Vietnam vet tough guys vs people of color, or white extras in black face. The 7 foot tall cannibal has ping-pong balls welded over his eye sockets and drools blood to make him more disgusting. In the cannibal attacks he munches on what looks like lunch meat bits smeared with ketchup while the "cannibals" in CANNIBAL TERROR seem to be pigging out on a slaughtered hog smeared with hot sauce.

Both films on this set seem to have come directly from the pen of Eurocine, which in one case is confirmed by Alain Deruelle in his CANNIBAL TERROR interview. Eurocine founder Marius Lesoeur wrote the story, according to the director, and let him sink into the blood and mud of a cheap production on unsanitary locations. Both films open with kidnappings carried out by sleazy criminals who rush into the bush with their hostages until the victims are released as the criminals are either killed by the heroes or devoured by the cannibals. At least the villains in DEVIL HUNTER are played by interesting actors (Antonio De Cabo and Werner Pochath). The only interesting players in CANNIBAL TERROR are the legendary Pamela Stanford (LORNA, THE EXORCIST) and Olivier Mathot, another Jess Franco regular. The capable Antonio Mayans is wasted in both features. The screenplay for DEVIL HUNTER is credited to Franco and producer Julian Esteban, but it could well have been an outline set by Eurocine in advance which was shot on the fly.

Speaking of the totally unwatchable CANNIBAL TERROR, it manages to look more colorful and sharp in  a 1080p Full HD resolution transfer than DEVIL HUNTER and its previous Severin DVD, although one wonders if this scraping-bottom bottom-feeder deserves the Blu-ray treatment. The plot, acting, music, direction are all abysmal, the cannibals sport 1970s sideburns and were left overs, as are the locations, from Jess Franco's slightly better (anything would be) WHITE CANNIBAL QUEEN/CANNIBALS/MANGUERS DE HOMMES (1980), also featuring Cliver, who is sorely missed in CANNIBAL TERROR. A new bonus on the Blu-ray in a 20m interview with director Alain Deruelle who reveals why he changed his name to Allan W. Steeve, how badly he was treated by producer Marius Lesoeur during and after the production, and how he deliberately shot everything "flatly" (it looks like it).  Too bad the superior 2.0 French track for CANNIBAL TERROR and 2.0 Spanish track for DEVIL HUNTER weren't provided with English subtitles. But both films still should be watched with those tracks since there's not much dialogue anyway, they are easy to follow and they play much better that way.

It should be noted that the Spanish track for DEVIL HUNTER seems to have been the "mother track" according to my colleague, Spanish dubbing expert Nzoog, which was then replaced by the gratingly inferior English dubbing for export. The original Spanish dialogues are sometimes quite different. For instance, the scene set in the boat's hold Mayans and Cliver are discussing the producer, women and Hollywood in Spanish which is replaced with something totally inane in English. The Spanish dubbing voices are much more appropriately cast and deliver their lines with professional skill.

Also in the CANNIBAL TERROR extra menu is an Easter Egg interview with Jess Franco, mainly about how he didn't direct any of Eurocine's ZOMBIE LAKE or CT, the complete DEVIL HUNTER interview with him carried over from the DVD is featured on DEVIL HUNTER along with an interview with actor "Burt Altman" [Bertrand Altman] about his work for Eurocine. On the CANNIBAL TERROR special features menu there's also a "Spicy Deleted Scene" from CANNIBAL TERROR showing Pamela Stanford stripping and dancing provocatively for the edification of the kidnappers. Poor Pamela also has to act out getting tied and raped by kidnapper "Robert Foster" [Jess Franco regular Antonio Mayans] The original theatrical trailer for CANNIBAL TERROR is also included.

Pure European Trash Cinema at its most raw and unpalatable. All told it's a good package, two certified "Video Nasties" in HD, and a recommended upgrade for both films, if you can stomach them. CANNIBAL FEROX and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST these are not! And if you want much more interesting, well made Jess Franco cannibal films then make sure to see his 1973 LA COMTESSE PERVERSE, aka COUNTESS PERVERSE (please release this on Blu-ray, Mondo Macabro) and his mid 1990s US co-production, TENDER FLESH.

*Most of this footage is blocked out with English language title cards on the TWE tape and is totally cut from the Video Asia DVD.

NOTE: Some reviews claim both films on this HD double feature are 1.66:1, others say 1.85:1. Go figure. 

Thanks to Nzoog.

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

16 August, 2015

First Look: DEVIL HUNTER in Full HD Resolution!


SEVERIN FILMS Bluray of Jess Franco’s relentlessly trashy 1980 cannibal epic, DEVIL HUNTER reveals a sharper, crisper video quality without the fogging of the previous SEVERIN DVD, along a bump up in terms of color. In Full 1080p HD resolution. Audio: English/Spanish 2.0.
Also included is the rarely heard Spanish language track, along with the English language option and an interview with Eurocine actor/stuntman “Burt Altman”…  I much prefer this Spanish alternate track to the French one on the previous SEVERIN DVD. To me, this particular film plays much better in Spanish, with more appropriate voice casting, while the English dub is somewhat problematic due to some voice casting of the supporting cast and poorly scripted English dialogue, although the English track is also included.
Given the presence of this superior Spanish track and the noticeably improved video quality over the DVD, this is a recommended upgrade. The Jess Franco interview SEXO CANIBAL is also included.

Eurocine’s CANNIBAL TERROR  is also included in HD with French and English tracks, along with a featurette on director “Allan W. Steeve”, more on that in the future when a more detailed, illustrated review will appear here asap..
(C) Robert Monell, 2015
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14 agosto 2015 a 11:03 PM

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11 August, 2015

Coming Aug. 18, 2015

DEVIL HUNTER aka THE MAN HUNTER: this 1980 German-French-Italian-Spanish coproduction is a guilty pleasure. An unapologetically sleazy, ultra gory affair. An unintentionally hilarious cannibal adventure, set on a steamy island populated by a native tribe and a 7 foot tall black cannibal who stalks and eats beautiful women targeted as human sacrifices by the locals. The towering flesh eater has to be seen to be believed... as does this go-for-the-edible-parts-first epic, directed in dynamic "low-style" from the maestro of European Trash Cinema: Jess Franco!

And you get CANNIBAL TERROR (one of the worst-ever cannibal films!) as a bonus....


Devil Hunter / Cannibal Terror Blu-ray

United States
Severin Films | 1980 | 2 Movies | Not rated | Aug 18, 2015 (1 Week)

Devil Hunter / Cannibal Terror (Blu-ray)
Large:


Video
Codec: See individual releases
Resolution: 1080p
Original aspect ratio: see individual releases

Audio

Subtitles
See individual releases

Discs
Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)

Playback
Region A (B, C untested)

(Blu-Ray All Region)


There are no items in the cart


    

Devil Hunter / Cannibal Terror Blu-Ray Double Feature (Blu-Ray All Region)
CANNIBAL TERROR-
“A Catalogue Of Perversions Such As
Voyeurism, Rape, Cannibalism AndA Euro Soundtrack That’s An Absolute Blast!” -SEX GORE MUTANTS
Even by the sleaziest standards of ’80s EuroTrash, it remains a film that must be seen to be believed: When a pair of criminal knuckleheads and their busty moll kidnap the young daughter of a wealthy tycoon, they foolishly choose to hide in a local jungle infested with ferocious cannibals. What follows is a mind-roasting exercise in atrocious acting, gratuitous nudity and gut-munching mayhem by a ravenous tribe of flesh eaters who inexplicably sport comb-overs and Elvis sideburns. Robert Foster (Inconfessable Orgies Of Emmanuelle), Pamela Stanford (White Cannibal Queen) and Burt Altman (Zombie Lake)
star in this infamous Spanish/French co-production that was banned in Britain as one of the original “Video Nasties” and is now presented uncut, uncensored and mastered in Hi-Def for the first time ever in America!


DEVIL HUNTER-
“OVER-THE-TOP PERVERSITY!
A Film Than Manages To Tap Into Race Exploitation,
Sex Exploitation, Cannibal Exploitation And Shock Exploitation!”
-BLACK HORROR MOVIES
King Of EuroSleaze Jess Franco (Bloody Moon, Macumba Sexual) takes on
the ’80s Cannibal genre and delivers a jungle sickie like no other!
When a safari of sexy babes and violent boneheads ventures into
native-crazed wilderness, Uncle Jess unleashes a deluge of relentless
nudity, dubious anthropology and his own brand of cut-rate carnage.
Ursula Fellner (Sadomania), Al Cliver (Zombie), Robert Foster
(Cannibal Terror) and Gisela Hahn (Contamination) co-star in this
original “Video Nasty” – also tastefully known as Sexo Cannibal and
Mandingo Manhunter – with something to offend everyone, now fully
restored from the original Spanish negative and presented uncut and
uncensored for the first time ever in America!

Blu-Ray All Region
CANNIBAL TERROR-
Spicy Deleted Scene
The Way of all Flesh: An Interview with Alain Deruelle aka Allan W Steeve
Theatrical Trailer
DEVIL HUNTER-
Sexo Canibal – Interview with Director Jess Franco
Spirit of the B Hive: An Interview with Bertrand Altman
- See more at: http://www.diabolikdvd.com/category/Preorders/Devil-Hunter-%5Bsl%5D-Cannibal-Terror-Blu~Ray-Double-Feature-(Blu~Ray-All-Region).html#sthash.saO5m7uU.dpufved, as does this appalling adventure, directed in low-style by the master of European Trash Cinema: Jess Franco!

(Blu-Ray All Region)


There are no items in the cart


    

Devil Hunter / Cannibal Terror Blu-Ray Double Feature (Blu-Ray All Region)
CANNIBAL TERROR-
“A Catalogue Of Perversions Such As
Voyeurism, Rape, Cannibalism AndA Euro Soundtrack That’s An Absolute Blast!” -SEX GORE MUTANTS
Even by the sleaziest standards of ’80s EuroTrash, it remains a film that must be seen to be believed: When a pair of criminal knuckleheads and their busty moll kidnap the young daughter of a wealthy tycoon, they foolishly choose to hide in a local jungle infested with ferocious cannibals. What follows is a mind-roasting exercise in atrocious acting, gratuitous nudity and gut-munching mayhem by a ravenous tribe of flesh eaters who inexplicably sport comb-overs and Elvis sideburns. Robert Foster (Inconfessable Orgies Of Emmanuelle), Pamela Stanford (White Cannibal Queen) and Burt Altman (Zombie Lake)
star in this infamous Spanish/French co-production that was banned in Britain as one of the original “Video Nasties” and is now presented uncut, uncensored and mastered in Hi-Def for the first time ever in America!


DEVIL HUNTER-
“OVER-THE-TOP PERVERSITY!
A Film Than Manages To Tap Into Race Exploitation,
Sex Exploitation, Cannibal Exploitation And Shock Exploitation!”
-BLACK HORROR MOVIES
King Of EuroSleaze Jess Franco (Bloody Moon, Macumba Sexual) takes on
the ’80s Cannibal genre and delivers a jungle sickie like no other!
When a safari of sexy babes and violent boneheads ventures into
native-crazed wilderness, Uncle Jess unleashes a deluge of relentless
nudity, dubious anthropology and his own brand of cut-rate carnage.
Ursula Fellner (Sadomania), Al Cliver (Zombie), Robert Foster
(Cannibal Terror) and Gisela Hahn (Contamination) co-star in this
original “Video Nasty” – also tastefully known as Sexo Cannibal and
Mandingo Manhunter – with something to offend everyone, now fully
restored from the original Spanish negative and presented uncut and
uncensored for the first time ever in America!

Blu-Ray All Region
CANNIBAL TERROR-
Spicy Deleted Scene
The Way of all Flesh: An Interview with Alain Deruelle aka Allan W Steeve
Theatrical Trailer
DEVIL HUNTER-
Sexo Canibal – Interview with Director Jess Franco
Spirit of the B Hive: An Interview with Bertrand Altman
- See more at: http://www.diabolikdvd.com/category/Preorders/Devil-Hunter-%5Bsl%5D-Cannibal-Terror-Blu~Ray-Double-Feature-(Blu~Ray-All-Region).html#sthash.saO5m7uU.dpuf