01 August, 2015


Anyone know exactly what the 3 discs will include in the LE releases? I'm assuming BD, DVD & CD.
Waiting to hear about Special Bonus Features also. These should look tremendous in HD!

04 July, 2015

DEVIL HUNTER Blu-ray and...Tibi Costa?

Severin Films's photo.
The giant cannibal carrying Ursula Buchfellner (Below image) is not "Burt Altman" as my published review incorrectly stated in this 2002 book, EATEN ALIVE. The real Burt Altman has been discovered and will be interviewed on next month's DEVIL HUNTER Blu-ray from Severin (See image at top). Thanks to Nzoog for tentatively ID-ing the actor in the pic below as "Tibi Costa", the Portuguese gymnast Jess Franco discusses in the bonus interview on Severin's previous DEVIL HUNTER DVD. Previous publications have ID'd him as Burt Altman "a zombie" and he does look like the tall, thin living dead man in the 1943 Val Lewton classic I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, complete with bugged-out eyes.

The Severin Blu-ray will also feature Eurocine's cannibal epic, CANNIBAL TERROR (1981), featuring Pamela Stanford! I look forward to meeting the real "Burt Altman" in August...

16 June, 2015

LABIOS ROJOS (1960) is here...

A message from Labios Rojos, the Red Lips female detective team, in LABIOS ROJOS. I never thought I would see it, but now I finally have.  I'll be adding a review of the new Spanish DVD in the future. 

14 June, 2015


(C) Robert Monell--6/12/15

A familiar and repeated image throughout Jess Franco's long, twisting filmography is of a small boat or a large ship on the water/at sea. Many of his films open with shots of ships (BROKEN DOLLS, to name one prominent example). We also see zoom ins and out from various sized vessels in LA COMTESSE NOIRE (1973), BARBED WIRE DOLLS (1976) and others.

Below is an example of this in his 1973 masterpiece AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO. First we see Ana (Emma Cohen) from a child's Point of View, playing with a picture book image of a small boat being eaten by a whale.
CUT TO... a large, actual tanker ship in the bay outside of the family villa. What is the meaning in this montage? Is this one of the secret codes of Jess Franco? More on this in the future...

TOP: Interior. Ana's villa. Flashback--A day in her childhood during which she plays with a paper boat in a book.
BOTTOM: CUT TO-Exterior. Ana's villa. Present Day--A large tanker in the bay seen as she meets her fiance.

08 June, 2015

Ciudad Baja (Downtown Heat) ( Jess Franco,1994)

An upmarket Jess Franco film, complete with crane shots, direct sound (!), exploding cars and numerous extras, Downtown Heat reunites Jess Franco with his Jack the Ripper star Josephine Chaplin for one last stab at mainstream filmmaking.
Reasonable budget aside, Downtown Heat is very Franco, with odd, jagged editing rhythm (courtesy of Lina Romay), lingering shots of the sea and Daniel White's ever-present music. Craig Hill is excellent as the villain, showing class and intelligence in a part that would have befitted Howard Vernon. Busy behind the camera as production manager, Antonio Mayans appears in what amounts to a cameo. Lina Romay is memorable as the leader of a street gang while cult actor Victor Israel pops up early on as an alcoholic tramp.
Franco had a gift for shooting simple things in a confusing way - some of the dialogues are framed in disorienting, tight close-ups while potentially elaborate scenes, such as shoot-outs, are treated as throwaway or filmed in the most basic manner imaginable.
Following Downtown Heat, Jess would make the entertaining but poorly received Killer Barbys, before embracing the digital medium and unleashing a bevy of abstract art oddities often shot in his living room.

07 June, 2015


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An analysis of this delightful, multi-narrative epic which presents brief episodes in the lives of a number of very different tourists to the Costa Del Sol city of Benidorm. A place Jess Franco loves to ridicule! Performance is the focal point of Franco's filmography and it plays a unique role here. If you've seen Robert Altman's NASHVILLE you might appreciate this film... 

05 June, 2015

Forthcoming Review.

www.franconomicon.wordpress.comComing soon: Review of the Redemption Blu-ray presentation of THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS. Recently published articles on the the wordpress.com sister blog include reviews of the Severin Blu-ray editions of VAMPYROS LESBOS and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY. 

19 May, 2015

The Inner Sanctum Mysteries 3 Dead man's eye 1944 VOSTF

A key to understanding Jess Franco is that he doesn't want to be Orson Welles, he really wants to be Reginald Le Borg.

14 May, 2015

Lust for Frankenstein (1998)

*version under review is the 87-minute Spanish-language cut 

Solarised footage of incestuous sex scenes set to the dark Ubangis score, naked bisexual monsters prowling the bushes of Malaga, messages from the afterlife etched into the heavy metal vinyl records -
Lust for Frankenstein
is loaded with patented Franco strangeness. Aided by the joint talents of Lina Romay, Michelle Bauer and Analia Ivars, Jess crafts a highly peculiar mixture of DIY horror and kitsch melodrama.

Lina Romay stars as Moira Frankenstein, a recent divorcee whose dreams are haunted by visions of orgies and who inherits a sex-frenzied monster from her late father. Lust for Frankenstein isn't the first time Jess Franco concerned himself with a female Dr. Frankenstein. Already in Erotic Rites of Fr ankenstein, the good doctor (Dennis Price) was succeeded by his equally determined daughter. While a number of approximations and blatant inconsistencies stemming from obvious scarcity of recourses make this One Shot Production an easy target for criticism from 'quality cinema' point of view, it would be unfair to dismiss Lust for Frankenstein as an insignificant entry in Franco's filmography. A closer look reveals a consistently-directed and highly poetic work with Franco seemingly embracing and transcending his limited means.

Franco masterfully arranges and captures the space in a scene where a dreadlocked dr. Frankenstein appears behind a blood-streaked windowpane. During his digital period, Franco was more then ever interested in colours, Lust for Frankenstein being prime example  - glowing amber lights when Lina discovers the creature (Michelle Bauer) her father has created, cold blues during the transfusion scenes of Lina feeding the victims' life energy into her sex-starved monster. As Lust for Frankenstein was partially shot on actual film, we're treated to rich colour  hues, especially lovely in the cutaway exterior shots of the foliage Jess seemed so fond of interspersing his stories with.

The shorter Spanish-language cut appears less soporific with the slow-motion simulated copulation interludes mercifully truncated. This version also benefits from an additional voice-over (by Franco himself?) during the softcore flashbacks, narrated by the deceased dr. Frankenstein and giving some background to the sketchy characters. Lust for Frankenstein is one of the most accomplished works - both visually and aurally - from the filmmakers' least-appreciated creative period.

12 May, 2015

Cuadecuc, Vampir (1971)

Maria Rohm and Soledad Miranda appear ethereal and impossibly sophisticated in Pere Portabella's granulated black-and-white ciné-mirage. Portabella uses the occasion - filming of Jess Franco's Count Dracula - as a launch pad for his own journey towards the fantastic and the supernatural. Possessing at once some features of a documentary and a remarkably dreamlike quality, Cuadecuc is of much interest to Franco scholars and those with a taste for gothic imagery. While many sequences have amazing rhythm and impact, the film does drag as a whole at the relatively short 66 minute running time, partially due to very sparce score and almost total abscence of sound effects. Possible Godardian influence can be traced in the form of extraneous sounds (an aeroplane taking off, roadworks) layed over the images at deliberately inappropriate moments.

A Virgin Among the Living Dead

One of Franco's better-received efforts, A Virgin Among the Living Dead (Franco's intended title was Night of the Shooting Stars) can be described as an extremely low-budget cross between the Addams Family films and Alain Resnais' Last Year in Marienbad. Appropriately named Christina Von Blanc retains a rather blank expression during her many encounters with a family of mischievous spectres populating the baroque Monteserate castle. Franco's skilful use of wide angle lens and an occasional welcome dolly shot lends this somewhat plodding affair a unique visual identity. Nicolai's distinctive score helps liven up the bizarre proceedings another notch. Seeing Howard Vernon wearing a busy shirt while singing hymns (actually proverbs) in Latin during the strange liturgy episode is worth the price of admission alone. A Virgin Among the Living Dead is one of the few Franco projects not to be remade by the man himself in the following decades. Perhaps Jess was satisfied with the film? 

11 May, 2015

Happy Birthday Jess!

The legendary filmmaker (seen here in Pere Portabella's poetic Cuadecuc) would have been 85 years old today.We´ve decided to write a few words about his Midnight Party on this occasion:

Midnight Party aka Lady Porno

Sloppily shot in Cinemascope and semi-plotless, this Eurociné presentation opens with Lina Romay addressing the viewer (foreshadowing similar 'interactive' moments in Franco's final digital films Paula-Paula and Crypt of the Condemned) while writhing naked in a hotel bedroom bathed in crimson light.

Gorgeous Lina Romay is the film's main attraction, here allowed to shine in a comic part. Eurociné regulars Pierre Boisson, Olivier Mathot and Pierre Taylou are at hand, taking turns frolicking in bed with Lina Romay, all set to Daniel White's mild score. Midnight Party was later  chopped up (together with Shining Sex) and re-scored by Joe D'Amato to make the hard-to-see Justine de Sade film.

08 May, 2015

The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (Theatrical Trailer)

One of Jess Franco's most outlandish cocktails of Gothic atmosphere, classic movie monsters, nudity, cannibalism, sadism, outre camerawork, psychotronic music and psychiatric ward dialogue comes to Bluray from REDEMPTION this Summer! A personal favorite Jess Franco Creature Feature. More to follow...

17 April, 2015

Jess Franco's XXX Files

El Franconomicon - WordPress.com


A new review of the 1987 hardcore DYNASTY parody, FALO CREST, has been added on the new blog.

11 April, 2015

Two Jess Franco experimental-erotica digital epics now available on DVD!

EUROPE: 19.99 €  



A group of women, maybe ghosts, maybe demons, are locked in a cemetery crypt due to an old curse. This kind of succubi, perverse and lascivious, dedicate their time to all kind of sadistic and sexual games.
One of the most sought-after films of Jess Franco, until now only screened in festivals like Sitges, Pantalla Fantasma or BUTT Film Fest, "Crypt of the Condemned" was defined by a German critic as "the first film shot in cunt-o-rama!!". Lesbian sex, fantasy and avantgarde conform this experiment by exploitation master Jess Franco.

Audio: DD 2.0 Spanish. Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian.
BONUS FEATURES: Jess Franco Interview; Short film "Los condenados de la cripta" by JJS; Trailers.


One hundred years later, the condemned women are still locked inside the crypt, giving themselves away to all kind of pleasures. They ignore the presence of an exterminating angel that the Lord has sent to punish and kill them because of their shamelesness.
Second installment of Jess Franco's lesbian succubi epic, half sexploitation, half avantgarde film, which explores women's sexuality from the deep.

Audio: DD 2.0 Spanish. Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian.
BONUS FEATURES: Deleted scene; Lina Romay behind the camera; Short film "The Phallus Killer" by Naxo Fiol; Trailers.

06 April, 2015

New Article-Coming Soon!

Jess Franco's children's adventure-fantasy/Poe adaptation/heist caper/family friendly martial arts mash up!

31 March, 2015


VAMPYROS LESBOS and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY 2-Disc Limited Edition Blu-Ray Details
Early orders through www.Severin-films.com will ship late-April and purchase of both will come with posters of newly commissioned Wes Benscoter artworks. Pre-order here. May 12th General Release.
What are often cited as the finest works of Euro-cult master Jess Franco’s labyrinthine career are his 1971 erotic horrors VAMPYROS LESBOS and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY. Now, for the first time ever in America, the fully restored, uncensored versions will be available in 2 Disc Limited Special Editions. Both films star the bewitching beauty Soledad Miranda, who was tragically killed before either film was released. Full specs on these Special Editions, including a pair of Franco’s final inimitably colorful interviews as well as a new featurette on Soledad containing rare clips, stills and music, and the super rare 24 track soundtrack with music by Sigi Schwab and Manfred Hubler, are as follows:
VAMPYROS LESBOS Limited Edition Of 7500
Disc 1 (Blu-Ray):
Newly remastered HD presentation of the feature in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
“Vampyros Jesus”: Interview featurette with Director Jess Franco
“Sublime Soledad”: Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown
“Stephen Thrower on Vampyros Lesbos”: Interview with Author of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’
“Jess Is Yoda” Clip
Alternate German Opening Title Sequence – ‘Dracula’s Heiress’
German Trailer
Disc 2 (DVD):
Las Vampiras – Alternate Spanish Language VHS Version With Optional English Subtitles
Specially packaged in dye cut slip case. Newly created cover art by Wes Benscoter.
SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY Limited Edition Of 4000
Disc 1 (Blu-Ray):
Newly remastered HD presentation of the feature in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
“Jess Killed In Ecstasy”: Interview with Director Jess Franco
“Sublime Soledad”: Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown
“Stephen Thrower on She Killed in Ecstasy”: Interview with Author of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’
“Paul Muller On Jess Franco”: Interview with the frequent Franco Star
German Trailer
Disc 2 (CD):
Original Motion Picture Soundtracks
3 Films By Jess Franco: Vampyros Lesbos/She Killed In Ecstasy/The Devil Came From Akasava
Repressing of the ultra rare 24 track CD
Specially packaged in dye cut slip case. Newly created cover art by Wes Benscoter.

28 March, 2015

New Blu-ray releases!

The official specs of the SEVERIN Blu-rays of SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY and VAMPYROS LESBOS are coming out next week. They will be published here asap. I did some consulting on these projects and guarantee they will be definitive!
Also here's a link to the sister website over on wordpress where my new review of Peter Stricklans's acclaimed Franco influenced erotica THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY has been posted. Also check out the image for a proposed cover for Redemption's upcoming Blu-ray of THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS and voice your support for it on their FACEBOOK page. Thanks. More reviews, images and information coming soon on both blogs! http://franconomicon.wordpress.com

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

20 March, 2015


One of Jess Franco's most stylish early thrillers, this 1962 French-Spanish production is teeming with Gothic atmosphere and features one of his most shocking scenes of Sadisterotica, long before Horror Y Sexo became a Eurohorror staple. An evil swamp demon, the shadow of the dreaded Baron Von Klaus, emerges from his lair to stalk and murder beautiful women in a remote Austrian town. But everything is not as it seems as the terror and questions increase.

I'm very pleased that REDEMPTION is presenting this beautifully crafted horror epic in HD. June 2015 is the projected release date...

17 March, 2015



I have added an additional blog site in association with Alex Mendibil's Spanish EL FRANCONOMICON.
This blog will continue to be updated with images, videos, reviews, links. The new blog will feature
different material, including articles and new features.

Thanks to our readers for your continued support and interest here and at the new blog.

Remember, this blog isn't going anywhere and please check here regularly for features.
Hope you all enjoy the additional new blog, which will be in English.

Recent blog posts on the new blog include: JESS FRANCO'S XXX FILES-PHOLLASTIA

El Franconomicon - WordPress.com


12 March, 2015

Support Amy Brown's Soledad Miranda project!

Amy Brown is probably the world's leading expert on all things regarding the late, great Spanish actress and Jess Franco muse, Soledad Miranda. Amy is planning to visit Spain as part of her research on a welcome biography of the iconic actress. Please support her journey if you can. I'll let Amy explain in her own words,

"I wanted to let you know about my fundraiser for my Soledad Miranda book. It's my dream project, and the most important thing I will ever do in my life. It's truly my life calling to be her biographer and bring her amazing life and career recognition in print (and on the web, as I have been doing for nearly 15 years). The fundraiser is to help fund a research trip to Spain, where I will interview her family and people who knew and worked with her. Details can be found at the link below. Every dollar helps, and I can't emphasize how important this is to me and her fans all over the world. Thank you for your support. Please share if you can.
Best wishes,


20 February, 2015

Coming on April 14, 2015

Thanks to Nzoog.

These are highly anticipated and most welcome releases of two key Jess Franco film, finally uncut and in HD!

15 February, 2015

Lina Romay 1954-2012

(Posted on behalf of Robert Monell)

Lina Romay passed beyond the mist 3 years ago today. RIP.

12 February, 2015

Upcoming REDEMPTION Blu-ray releases

Here is what I was told by my source at REDEMPTION FILMS on plans for upcoming Blu-ray releases of  Jess Franco's THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (1962) and THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972), two of his best films which will make very welcome HD editions.Going into this, I was mainly interested in Blu-ray news on THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN--French title: Les Experiences Erotiques de Frankenstein (1972) but was pleasantly surprised to learn that work is just finishing up for a coming Blu-ray release of the atmospheric 1962 black and white thriller, La Sadique Baron Von Klaus.

Question: Do you have any information on an upcoming Blu-ray release of Jess Franco's THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN, or any other of his films, from Redemption?
Answer: Yes, after many delays, Redemption is releasing EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN... probably this Summer. We've received the raw HD master and it is being color-corrected now. It is the uncensored French cut (with an alternate English dub track). It does NOT contain the "clothed" footage, nor does it contain the inserts Franco later shot (with Lina Romay). And before FRANKENSTEIN, we're releasing SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (just finishing that one up now).
Before you ask -- It does not include the pre-credit sequence of the man in a white mask. We typically only get the French versions of his films, and not the modified Spanish cuts.
Question: Yes, the French version, that is the director's cut. I interviewed Jess in 2005 and he said that is his authorized version. He disliked the Spanish cut. These will be Bluray and DVD right?
Answer: Correct. No promo material yet. I would say "Summer 2015" for FRANKENSTEIN. BARON VON KLAUS is tentatively schedule for early June. 

[It should be stressed that these are projected release windows and street dates are always tentative and often delayed. But both are in hand by Redemption and being worked on as you are reading this. Let's hope it happens as planned.] 

{C} Robert Monell, 2015 [First published 2/12/15]

11 February, 2015


1983 80 MINUTES* Galan Video (Spain) European Trash Cinema (U.S. import) Written and Directed by Jess Franco; Cast: ROBERT FOSTER (Antonio Mayans), ANALIA IVARS, JESS FRANCO (Sam Chesterfield), CANDY COSTER (Lina Romay), TRINO TRIVES, MARY SAD (Maria de la Mar Sanchez), JOSE LLAMAS (Macho Jim), Augustin Garcia, Juana de la Morena.

*90 minutes according to OBSESSION, THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO. The VHS dupe I've seen only emphasizes how this film screams for a HD remastering.

Felipe Marlboro, gamely incarnated by Franco mainstay Antonio Mayans ("Robert Foster"), is a seedy private investigator who takes up a missing person case in punk infested Shit City. Hired by Maria Lucky (Maria de la Mar Sanchez) to locate the punk informer Macho Jim (Jose Llamas), he runs into big trouble almost immediately. All the men seem to hang out in a loud, teeming, smoky bar decorated with posters of Bogart (from CASABLANCA) and Mae West, waiting for trouble to erupt.

The residents of this corrupt town all look like they base their fashion sense on 1980s MTV. The men look like either Sid Vicious or a member of A Flock of Seagulls, and the women sport the slutty attire and pouting sexuality of Robert Palmer's female back-up vocalists in the music video of "Addicted to Love." Likewise, the visual style of the film is a whacked-out array of bright, primary colors and weird camera angles.

The plot has Marlboro enlisting the aid of piano player Sam Chesterfield (played by Jess Franco himself) in an all out effort to find his man and bust the town's drug and dirty money kingpin, Saul Winston (Trino Trives). Obviously, Jess Franco is Hoagy Carmichael in CASABLANCA, and Marlboro is telling him to "Play it Again, Sam" by pumping him for information. The fact that the main characters are all named after American cigarette brands say a lot about Jess Franco's love of smoking and American culture.

Forget SIN CITY and PULP FICTION, this unfolds in Shit City and is the original Pulp Fiction, a Jess Franco wonderment which manages to precede all of Tarantino, Rodriguez and co. by decades.A witty, obsessively self reflexive, visually striking neo-noir, a live action comic book which is one of Franco's personal favorites, and it's easy to see why. Almost every shot in the film is a loving homage to 1940s private eye cinema (such as THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP) filtered through a 1980s MTV-style lens and striving for a comics stylization of image, performance and atmosphere.

Franco has stated that he attempted to create a sustained comic-book look, and he has totally succeeded in that while creating his most entertaining film since his amusing 1967 spy spoof LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE. Unfortunately, you may have a difficult time seeing it in the way it deserves to be presented.

Antonio Mayans is the perfect fall guy in Franco's off balance world of pimps, whores, killers, and thugs. Felipe Marlboro seems like a close cousin of the director's perennially challenged P.I., Al Pereira. In her first role in a Jess Franco film, Analia Ivars, who has great legs and 1980s big hair, makes for a perfect lean, mean femme fatale. Franco stages all the standard private eye cliches in his usual off-kilter fashion. For instance, when Marlboro gets a beating for asking too many questions, the thug (Augustin Garcia) who kicks the living daylights out of him is a flashy flamenco dancer who performs his dance steps in between each punch and kick. Most amusing of all is the twisted ending, which finds Marlboro seduced by the woman who has set him up for extinction.

Franco adorns this personal favorite with a fast-paced editing style, glimmering shots of the Benidorm locations (which have a tacky glamor), often  shooting through diffusion lenses, and a rousing New Orleans style jazz score by Fernando G. Morcillo. LA BLUES DE LA CALLE POP... is a continual delight to see and hear, and one can sense its maker's joy in creating a noir comic book on film.

Franco's experimental deployment of colored filters is especially interesting (as in the similar ESCLAVA DEL CRIMEN-1986) and makes me wonder why he didn't continue in this style. Instead, his next several films, such as DARK MISSION (1987), ESMERALDA BAY (1989) and DOWNTOWN HEAT (1990), were made using more conventional  cinematography, musical and narrative techniques. Not bad films, just not the kind of prime, personal Jess Franco which LOS BLUES CALLE POP exemplifies so beautifully. You haven't seen the real Jess Franco until you've experienced it.

**It should also be noted that the film is narrated, in a mastered tone somewhere between mock authoritative and old fashioned cynical, by Ricardo Palacios, who first appeared in Jess Franco's world as the pugnacious tourist in CARTAS SUR TABLE (ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS-1966). He also played the bandit chief in the 1968 Harry Alan Towers production THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, memorable noir villains in JUEGO SUCIO EN CASABLANCA (1984) and CAMINO SOLITARIO (1993), among other Franco titles. A memorable character actor in films by Franco, Margheriti (CAR CRASH), Rossellini (SOCRATES) who appeared as various characters in Euro-westerns (THE BOUNTY KILLER-1966). He was also the director of the1987 Spanish Civil War comedy, BIBI LA BANDA, produced by Jess Franco, and Mi Cojeno es el Mejor, a 1982 erotic comedy featuring Lina Romay. It was just reported that Palacios passed away today, February 11, in Spain. Thanks to Nzoog.  Ricardo Palacios (1940-2015)

Robert Monell

03 February, 2015

The Jess Franco XXX Collection

Welcome to the XXX world of Jess Franco, one of the many planets within his special massive parallel universe. Over the next few months, and beyond, we'll be taking some time to consider various aspects of his extensive hardcore portfolio, from the mid 1970s (SEXORCISMES) through the 1980s.

I'm hoping to see such elusive titles as FALO CREST (1987) and the ultra obscure Las Chuponas (1986), but already have seen several of his rarely screened mid 1980s hardcores such as EL OJETE DE LULU (1984), UNA RAJITA PARA DOS (1982) and Para las Nenas... Leche Calentita (1986), which I'll briefly comment on along with his best effort in this genre, EL MIRON Y LA EXHIBICIONISTA (1985), which was released as a Spanish "newstand" DVD as part of a magazine promotion. (*For Interviu, Thanks to Nzoog).

Most importantly, I plan to look at these as cinema works of Jess Franco, and how they place in his filmography in terms of themes, threads, images and personal humor...

[Above]: Rare screen cap of Jess Franco as the voyeur watching the hardcore performers in the scatological UNA RAJITA PARA DOS. Watching erotic performances is a continuing thread throughout his massive filmography, in these cases the performances are hardcore sex encounters, presented for the first time on Spanish screens (legally) in the early 1980s.

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

02 February, 2015

The Jess Franco Collection! - Full Moon Streaming fullmoonstreaming.com/Jess-Franco-Collection


The Jess Franco Collection! - Full Moon Streaming


First and foremost, I am pleased that these will be available to those who have not or cannot import the Ascot-Elite Golden Goya Jess Franco Blu-rays, but I also wished these were going to be BD releases instead of DVDs.

I note that JACK THE RIPPER will be available in February as the first release in this numbered set. DORIANA GRAY is #7 and some reports I've read are saying that both the hardcore and soft versions wilb be available. If it's going to be one release per month we may not see that until August. That, along with the highly stylized BLUE RITA [DAS FRAUENHAUS], are the two in which I am most interested. I don't have any of the Golden Goya Collection, although more guest reviews are planned here.

These appear to be HD clones of the Golden Goyas, perhaps down-converted by HD tape masters, but remastered by Ascot-Elite, from which Full Moon has obviously acquired the rights and elements. I would be surprised if Full Moon does any of their own remastering or English subtitling, although all deserve and need to have English subtitles available.

Will they be NTSC downconversions from Ascot Elite's HD master tapes? Will they be exact clones of the Blu-rays? These are more questions will doubtless be answered sooner than later.

 Thanks to Eric Cotenas.

30 January, 2015

10 Jess Franco films coming from FULL MOON

10 Jess Franco films, from the era when he was making films for producer Erwin C. Dietrich, will be released by Charles Band's FULL MOON company starting next month. Bonus material will be included. These were previously released by Ascot-Elite on Blu-ray.

At this point I wonder if DORIANA GRAY (1976), a stylish female vampire film starring Lina Romay, will be the hardcore version previously released by the Elite in German language but with a grating (for my ears)  English dubtrack produced when at the time of the first DVD. No English subtitles were available. I would be surprised to see FULL MOON release a hardcore film. Only one of the films listed below is noted to have English subtitles. 

 The FULL MOON collection will be on DVD. We'll have to see how this plays out but it seems like some good news for US fans who haven't been able to import the Ascot Blu rays. The films will also be available to stream on FULL MOON's site.
“I’m excited to be able to bring this awesome collection to the fans,” says Full Moon founder and equally storied genre film producer/director Charles Band.

“My WIZARD home video imprint was among the first in North America to distribute Franco’s films in the early 1980s and it makes perfect sense that Full Moon should be the ones to now release these beautiful new transfers of some of Jess’ most effective pictures to domestic DVD.”

Titles featured in Full Moon’s “The Jess Franco Collection” are as follows:






SLAVES (no English track, only English subtitles available)





Home to the entire Full Moon Features Library, www.fullmoonstreaming.com is one of the world’s first and finest interactive video experiences, and provides fans with unprecedented access to exclusive content: world premieres, resurrected film treasures, webisodes, behind-the-scenes footage,

26 January, 2015

SHINING SEX- Part 2 (1975)

The above Italian poster, suggesting a high spirited Euro sex comedy a la Edwige Fenech, couldn't be more misleading....

Credited to "Dan Simon" this no-budget science fiction sex number is one of Jess Franco's most imaginative and daring experiments in genre digression. SHINING SEX-LA FILLE AU SEXE BRILLANT was filmed back to back with MIDNIGHT PARTY, according to Monica Swinn~on EL FRANCONOMICON~in the same locations (mainly the geometric luxury hotel complex, LE GRANDE MOTTE,  in South France), with much the same cast and crew.

A Eurocine/Brux Inter Films-Brussels production. Lina Romay stars as a ditzy stripper in both films but there the similarity ends. MIDNIGHT PARTY registers as a termite Eurospy comedy, with the director himself as Radeck, Agent 008, a villain who practices the fine art of torture. SHINING SEX... is a grim, downward spiral into zombie seduction, mind control and death, all watched over by Jess Franco, playing a Hammeresque investigator, Dr. Seward.  As usual, performance and watching, that unique dynamic with which the director is so fascinated, takes center stage.

[ Above: Metaphysical transformation, Hollywood style, cf Jess Franco's SHINING SEX]

 Performance is always dangerous, exciting and a means into an altered state of being. Here it leads to an altered state of consciousness as giggly stripper Cinthia (Lina Romay) is introduced applying makeup, then onstage, performing "Shining Sex" a dance of her own creation which captures the attention of two mysterious customers in the club, Alpha (Evelyn Scott rn Evelyne Deher) and Andros (Ramon Ardid), the latter wearing sunglasses which seem to signal a lounge-Eurocime-spy lizard. The wall paper in the club has rectangular patterns and when Cinthia joins the couple in their room they enter that part of the hotel through a another semi rectangular opening.

The sprawling hotel structure is formed from cubicles, living spaces, forming large pyramids which hover over the area and bay. Thumping industrial sounds and sparkling impulses on the soundtrack make the sci fi undercurrent all the more palpable. It all exists on some subliminal plane, as do Alpha and co. beings from an alternate dimensions scoping out our world and on a mission to exterminate a psychic (Monica Swinn) and the biologist, Dr. Van Helsing (Olivier Mathot) who have become aware of their existence and the threat they pose.

The most daring segment of this film is the 5 minute plus, dialogue free journey taken by Cinthia and Van Helsing down a river in "Africa" as drums are heard beating on the soundtrack. Nothing happens, but we are treated to views (via stock footage) of various tropical animal life in and on the banks of the river as the two characters seem lost in thought as they remain separate on different parts of the vessel. It's a hypnotic sequence, taking the viewing into a twilight zone beyond time, space and narrative functionality. The are moments like this spread throughout, like the presence of the rose on the wall during the sex scene between Romay and Scott, but this sequence either shuts the audience down or invites the adventurous into a new kind of cinema adventure. Few will take the latter offer, since, after all "it's only a sex film." 

Andros, Alpha's slave, tells Cintha he was a normal human until his boat entered a mist, evoking the transforming fog of Jack Arnold's THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. But the stakes here are equally delirious, and deadly. Alpha will seduce and destroy the targets through a sexual transference of a poison inserts in her vagina via an unguent. Hence, as often in Jess Franco's ,Sex=Death. Cinthia informs the psychic that she is there to make love to her and to kill her, and that's what she does. Much like the love unto death interludes in LA COMTESSE NOIRE 1973 where Romay was a female vampire who loved and dispatched male and female partners after removing essential fluids, death through sexual dehydration. And both films conclude with Jess Franco witnessing the death of Lina Romay, something that sadly would occur in real life when the actress preceded the director, tragically passing away on  February 15, 2012at the age of 57. Jess Franco would die in 2013 at the age of 82, shortly after completing his last feature, the digital comedy AL PEREIRA VS THE ALLIGATOR LADIES.

Life, love, sex, death, that's what it's all about. In Jess Franco's universe performance becomes the invisible cement which seals them all together. And if it's on film, it becomes immortal.The loved one dies as the lover watches while the film is watched by an audience of human beings who will someday also die.

SHINING SEX exists in at least 3 versions, an 85 minute hardcore, a 95 minute cut which omits some hardcore footage and a 102 minute cut, on which this review is based. Longer versions are also rumored to exist in the vaults of Eurocine. 

(C) Robert Monell, 2015

22 January, 2015


Updated from the Robert Monell Archives
(C) Robert Monell 2015
Roland, the World's Sexiest Man



I once called this one of JF's "finest" De Nesle efforts but I've changed my mind as it doesn't hold up very well despite an admirable premise....

A wealthy ex-playboy, Roland (Fred Williams) tires of married life and decides to return to his old ways. He poses as a butler and becomes a servant to rich and beautiful women, but many complications ensue. His "wife" is the imposing Barbara Bolt (Brigitte Monnin) is a frisky career woman, the President of an International Organization of porno stores, whose demands cannot be met by the intimidated Count Roland. An interesting class-gender conflict ensues, allowing Roland to have numerous erotic encounters to satisfy his bruised ego, the paying porn cinema customer but not necessarily the average fan of Jess Franco's outre vision.

The title of this sly comedy of manners indicates Franco wanted to infuse this amusing trifle with a sense of irony. Roland may be handsome but as played by Williams behaves like a run-of-the-mill male model, albeit with a little more humor and liveliness than this usually dull actor musters in his other Franco roles from this period. He's especially inadequate as the hobbled super spy in THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA. Franco aims for the tone of a Howard Hawks screwball comedy, but verbal and visual puns, not physical comedy, are more his forté. And as the only available videos on the U.S. mail-order circuit are in French, those unfamiliar with that language will miss the satiric barbs at male chauvinism and upper-class arrogance.
As Roland's pudgy, mischievous manservant Malou, Richard de Conninck aka Bigotini, a familiar Franco actor who often worked as the director's assistant, just about steals the show from Williams. Most of the footage follows Roland as he is seduced by various women, and in an especially amusing scene, tries to avoid the advances of one husband who also happens to like men.

The cinematography is colorful, with occasionally interesting camera angles, but the lack of any action other than sexual may bore those who are not Franco enthusiasts. This 1974 sex farce is one of Franco's least screened Robert De Nesle features, although released on French VHS [Videobox] it is not available in anything near HD in any format. A sometimes subtle, somewhat tender look at social roles and the presence of invisible class barriers which cut people off from erotic expression. It almost makes one wonder what the result would have been played straight.... Actually, this is the kind of French bedroom farce at which Blake Edwards excelled.

Andre Benichou's swinging Jazz score is wonderful and the sun dappled, color intensive, cubist frames remind one of Cezanne with a touch of Impressionist color patterns. And no film with Pamela Stanford, Monica Swinn and Lina Romay (as Loulou Laverne) in the cast can be all bad. It remains, alas, rather tiresome at its full length. The version under review is reportedly cut from 120 m!

Don't hold your breath for a Blu ray restoration.... but you never know.

Robert Monell