Archive for Jess Franco

99 Women (1969) Review

Posted in 99 Women with tags , , on January 31, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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99 WOMEN

*** Out of 5

Tagline- 99 Women Behind Bars Without Men!

Release Date- April 23rd, 1969

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Peter Welbeck

Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Maria Schell, Mercedes McCambridge, Luciana Paluzzi, Maria Rohn, Rosalba Neri, Eliza Montes and Herbert Lom

With this movie being directed by Jess Franco and being a women in prison film you’re probably expecting it to be loaded with nudity, sex and violence right? Well you’d be wrong actually. Released in 1969, 99 Women was the first WIP film directed by Jess Franco and its nothing like you would expect from a Jess Franco film. While the film does have some nudity, sex and violence it isn’t very exploitive and is nothing you wouldn’t see in a standard R-rated movie. 99 Women was perhaps the first of the new era of WIP films however I would say it was the Roger Corman productions such as Women in Cages, the Big Bird Cage and the Big Doll House that influenced these films for years to come even if 99 Women had a couple of years jump on them. That isn’t meant to discredit Jess Franco since 99 Women has all the elements we would see in the WIP film, but I still go with the Corman productions as the ones that really kick started the genre.

99 Women isn’t exactly a forgotten film as it is overlooked and its a film that even among Franco fans isn’t often talked about. I think a lot of people probably went into this expecting something totally different as I stated it isn’t filled with what we normally would see in a Jess Franco film and I suppose the film is rather tame. While I gave 99 Women 3-stars it is a light 3-star rating and even though I felt the film was alright I really don’t have much a desire to see it again anytime soon. 99 Women was a nice attempt and while the film is low budget and its very much obvious it is however decently made and not as shoddy as some of Franco’s later films. Even some of his better films that followed were a little rougher looking than this film. But while decently made it also sort of lacks and I suppose could even be a bit boring in spots so I understand why its overlooked and while I can’t say it deserves more attention than it gets, but it is a bit better than its reputation, which again I think stems from people expecting an all out exploitation film. If you read the plot description on the IMDb you’d be expecting an all out exploitation film, but as I mentioned everything seen here is the standard R-rated film.

With the people running the prison being quite cruel 3 women stage a breakout and after they escape they end up being chased by male inmates that also just happened to escape.

On the IMDb Milo G. Cuccia, Carlo Fadda, Jesùs Franco & Javier Peres Grober are listed as the writers with a few more listed for other langue versions. However the film credits list Peter Welbeck who is listed on the IMDb as the writer of the English version and posters I’ve seen also credit Welback. Also according to IMDb Welbeck is Harry Alan Towers. Since the credits list Peter Welback I’ll credit him as the writer. The screenplay is fairly decent in spots, but characters lack depth and for the most part aren’t that interesting, which wouldn’t be a problem with more action, but Welbeck seems to wanna focus more on characters, but 99 Women isn’t strong enough to rely on being a more character driven movie.

As director Jess Franco gets the film off to a fairly solid start, but than the film gets a bit sluggish in terms of pacing and it isn’t really until the final act it begins to pick up, but even the final act lacks excitement. I’ve mentioned this before, but even in the Franco films I liked I often found pacing to be an issue except the Awful Dr. Orlof and despite 99 Women running at only 90-minutes it does feel a little overly long, but based on the writing even a shorter running time wouldn’t really solve the pacing issues. Jess Franco if anything makes more of a drama and while a nice try and to some degree a little successful things are brought down by a subpar script. Any sex scenes aren’t very erotic and while the film does contain rape the way it was shot doesn’t really allow it to make any emotional impact on the viewer. In typical Franco fashion we have out of focus shots, which is quite a bizarre creative choice and for those who may have read past Franco reviews I’ve written I wasn’t totally sure if that was intentional, but now I’m certain it was. Also certain scenes are shot so close up we can’t make anything out, which was another odd creative choice. While decently made 99 Women has its moments and Franco delivers a decent film, but it just didn’t fully work.

After the film was shot hardcore footage was inserted, which I haven’t seen. But from what I can gather these hardcore scenes were shot by Bruno Mattei, but I have no idea if that’s true. I haven’t looked into it since I have little desire to see the hardcore footage since it wasn’t done by Franco nor does it feature any of the cast members.

Overall 99 Women was a decent effort by Franco, but it just doesn’t fully work. I suppose its worth viewing at least once, but the main reason to see it is for the start of a new trend in the WIP film even though I still credit Roger Corman with being the producer who kick started these kind of films.

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Women Behind Bars (1975) Review

Posted in Women Behind Bars with tags , , on January 29, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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WOMEN BEHIND BARS

** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- 1975

Running Time- 80-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- R. Marceignac

Director- Jesùs Franco (as Rick Deconnink)

Starring- Lina Romay, Roger Darton, Martine Steed, Nathalie Chape, Denis Torre

Released in 1975 Women Behind Bars is a women in prison film by Jess Franco and its the typical subpar film that he made throughout his career. Jess Franco is quite a frustrating filmmaker as he’s made some good films such as A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Nightmares Come at Night and made quite a good film with the Awful Dr. Orlof, but a good bulk of his work was quite atrocious and Women Behind Bars isn’t really an exception. I was hoping for some trashy fun like Sadomania, but this film isn’t nearly as sleazy despite being on the infamous video nasty list. Women Behind Bars is a little more plot driven than one might be used to in a Jess Franco film, but that really isn’t a good thing since the film isn’t so much bad as it is quite boring.

In 1969 Jess Franco directed 99 Women, which is the film many cite as the one that changed the direction of the women in prison movie however I’d say it was the Roger Corman productions of the early 70s that really shaped the WIP film and served as the main influence for these films while at the peak of their popularity, which isn’t meant to discredit Jess Franco, but while 99 Women came first I think most filmmakers and fans of the WIP genre would cite the Corman films as the most influential.

The screenplay was written by R. Marceignac though the IMDb credits Marius Lesoeur under the name Marius Lefrere. Marceignac’s script is very much driven by plot, but it just isn’t strong enough to carry the film. After 3 men pull off a heist, two of the men are shot by 1 of the thieves. He than is later shot by his girlfriend Shirley Fields (Romay) who than turns herself in and claims she shot him because he was cheating on her, but others suspect it was for the jewels and once in prison she’s subjected to torture to make her talk and give up the location of the jewels. The script is quite bland with boring characters and a straight forward plot with very little else added in and while decently plotted the script is quite boring.

Jess Franco under the name Rick Deconnink (IMDb credits it to him under the name A.M. Frank) makes one of his more plot driven films, but that isn’t such a good thing at all. Women Behind Bars was a little better made than most of Jess Franco’s films as more often than not his films were a bit shoddy and even his better films were rough around the edges. Of all the films I’ve seen by Franco from a pure filmmaking side of things I’d say Bloody Moon was his best, but he was pretty much a director for hire and best way to describe it is when an indie filmmaker makes a studio film with no control. Women Behind Bars isn’t exactly good filmmaking, but it is a bit better put together than a lot of Franco’s work, but where it might be better made in some regard it lacks the fun factor. The pace of the film is quite sluggish and even at only 80-minutes the film feels overly long. It isn’t until roughly the midway mark any action really happens and even than the pace never picks up. There is some girl on girl action and while you see every part of their bodies if you catch my meaning, but in typical Franco fashion its poorly shot, which makes it difficult to see much outside of a couple of shots and add in the dark lighting what should be a great scene isn’t very erotic and quite boring. Any scenes of torture, which are only a couple is too shoddy to take serious. Jess Franco delivers a very subpar and sluggishly paced film that lacks the fun and sleaze often found in these films. Really the only good news is the film is only 80-minutes, but even with that brief running time it can be a chore to sit through.

Overall I didn’t exactly hate Women Behind Bars, but I often found myself checking to see how much time left as its more boring than just bad. From a technical side Women Behind Bars isn’t exactly well made, but its not as shoddy as some of Franco’s other films. The only reason to really see this is if you’re a fan of Franco and Lina Romay or you like the WIP film, but in that case you can find better films by Franco and Romay and can find far better WIP films as this lacks the fun in others of its type. I’m not a huge Jess Franco fan, but I am more into his films than I used to be, but I think most will feel as I did in regards to Women Behind Bars.

Jess Franco appears in the film as Bill who is after the jewels. IMDb credits him using the alias Clifford Brown, but I didn’t notice the name in the credits so Jess was either uncredited or he used a different name as all the info on IMDb is pretty much incorrect.

Awful Dr. Orlof (1962) Review

Posted in Awful Dr. Orlof with tags , , on January 27, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- His Shrine Was the Face of Terror

Release Date- May 14th, 1962

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Howard Vernon, Conrado San Martin, Diana Lorys, Ricardo Valle

Released in 1962 The Awful Dr. Orlof was the first horror film made by cult filmmaker Jess Franco and apparently was his 4th feature film (of course ignoring documentaries and short films) and its also regarded as the first horror film made in Spain. When it comes to the career of Jess Franco according to the IMDb he has 199 directing credits, but who knows how many more could possibly be out there that are maybe a lost film like Nightmares Come at Night was until about 2004 and with different aliases used its possible there could be a few more films than we’re not aware of. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Jess Franco and outside of a few films I really don’t like the bulk of his work and even the films I do like I find them at best to be average, but yet I still continue to seek his work out since he very much intrigues me and even if I have to sit through more films I dislike to find one I thought was ok it still doesn’t stop me from watching his films. The Awful Dr. Orlof was actually quite the surprise in the fact it was actually a pretty good film and avoids many of the problems I have with Franco’s work regardless if I liked or disliked it. Jess Franco’s films are often a bit shoddy, his use of zoom-ins are quite poor and at times the camera is out of focus (that could be a creative choice I suppose), editing is often choppy at best, but my biggest gripe is at times his films can suffer in pacing. The Awful Dr. Orlof by no means is Psycho in terms of filmmaking, but it’s actually fairly well made and while its a bit rough around the edges it isn’t shoddy like many of Franco’s films.

If I never saw a Jess Franco film and this was my introduction to his work I would very much rush out to see more of his films since with Dr. Orlof, Franco showed a lot of potential. The 70s is the era Franco is most known for and the good portion were filled with graphic nudity and were pretty much soft-core porn and while that doesn’t bother me in a film I have to wonder what happened? Like I stated a good portion of his films were quite shoddy and even the films I liked by him were a bit rough, but the Awful Dr. Orlof while rough around the edges is far superior to any other film I have seen by Jess Franco. Again this isn’t Psycho in terms of filmmaking, but its decently made and on par with many films by great filmmakers early in their careers. Based on what I’ve seen by Franco if not for his name on the credits I wouldn’t believe it was him.

Dr. Orlof (Vernon) abducts women in order to use their skin to fix his daughters scarred face. The screenplay is actually fairly decent and better written than any other Franco film I’ve seen, its well plotted and has solid characters that can carry the film. While the idea isn’t exactly original I gotta say this was a pretty strong screenplay.

As director Jess Franco crafts a fun film that’s well paced, which is an issue I often have with Franco’s films even the ones I liked I find the pacing at times to be sluggish, but not here. The pace is generally strong with some solid suspense and eerie atmosphere. In many ways the Awful Dr. Orlof reminds me a little of the Universal horror films with a little bit of the films of Hammer Studios thrown in. While not perfect and a little rough around the edges, but Jess Franco crafts an excellent horror film and was by far my favorite film he made.

Part of why Jess Franco intrigues me is there was a decent filmmaker somewhere in Franco even if the good bulk of his films were quite shoddy (even if enjoyable). The Awful Dr. Orlof is a solid film and there was potential shown. Besides Dr. Orlof, A Virgin Among the Living Dead is one of the only Franco films that I’ve seen that was fairly well done and while that film has its issues it does have some decent atmosphere. In my opinion The Awful Dr. Orlof was by far the best film I’ve seen by Franco and its too bad he never really built upon this.

Overall I highly recommend the Awful Dr. Orlof. If you aren’t a fan of his work I would still suggest seeing this since its really nothing like many of his other films. Those who watch Jess Franco’s films for nudity will be disappointed here as there is only brief nudity. I never expected to like this film as much as I did based on what I’ve seen by Franco, but Orlof was a solid little horror film and fans of cult cinema should seek this out.

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Nightmares Come at Night (1970) Review

Posted in Nightmares Come at Night with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Haunted By Bloody Nocturnal Visions, Anna Fears She is Going Insane

Release Date- 1970

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Diana Lorys, Paul Muller, Colette Jack, Jack Taylor

Nightmares Come at Night was released in 1970 and for a long time was something of a lost film only having a brief theatrical release in Belgium though it isn’t entirely sure it was this film and according to records it apparently played in a couple of other countries, but again this isn’t known for sure and than it went missing for decades making it a lost film and it wasn’t until 2004 when the film was rediscovered and released on DVD by Media-Blasters and than in 2013 Redemption Films released this movie on blu-ray. When it comes to Jess Franco I can’t say I’m a huge fan as I find the bulk of his work below average with a few above average. The good portion of his films even the ones I like can be a bit shoddy, but there was a decent filmmaker in there somewhere and when you get past the flaws of this film, which there are many you can sort of see it here in Nightmares Come at Night. My favorite Jess Franco film was the Awful Dr. Orlof, which was released in 1962 and while a bit rough around the edges was highly enjoyable and in my opinion by far his best film and its too bad what followed never came close to matching Orlof. Lets get one thing straight Jess Franco was a unique filmmaker with a unique vision, which is why some hail him as a great filmmaker, but being different doesn’t make you good at what you do. Many of Franco’s films could be quite terrible though perhaps entertaining as films like Sadomania come to mind, but like I said there was a decent filmmaker in Franco, but being unique doesn’t make you great at what you do.

Anna (Lorys) a stripper meets Cynthia (Colette Giacobine under the name Colette Jack) and the two get into a relationship with Anna moving in with Cynthia who becomes abusive and controlling. Not long after Anna begins suffering from terrible nightmares where she kills a man and she fears she’s going insane.

The screenplay was written by Jess Franco and had a very interesting idea, but very poorly plotted, which makes the film a bit confusing at times (though not in a way to where you don’t know what’s going on, perhaps its just overly complicated). The script is just a bit messy in spots and it does hinder the film. We also get some random scenes that I really don’t know what it has to do with the film and if anything seemed written to get the script to a certain page count. Dialogue at times seems to aim at being poetic at least to me and it doesn’t work and these scenes are voice overs and there is a reason why voice overs in films if used are kept to a limit. There is also a subplot with spying neighbors (Andre Montchall & Soledad Miranda under the name Susan Korda). This plot seems pointless, but does tie into the film at the end. Speaking of the scenes with the neighbors, some claim the footage was from an unfinished Franco film edited into this and some say it may have been shot afterwards to pad out the running time. Franco’s idea is no doubt interesting, but the actual writing is never as interesting as the idea. Too much of the film lacked a deeper explanation and it was again just overly complicated.

As director Jess Franco crafts a very uneven film and the pacing is quite sluggish, which is an issue I have with the good portion of Jess Franco films even the ones I liked. Of all the films I’ve seen by him really the only exception in terms of sluggish pacing was the Awful Dr. Orlof. Nightmares Come at Night is no exception as the pace can really lag in spots. When Cynthia and Anna first meet the set up is several minutes, which is long enough, but it felt like 20-minutes as it seems never ending. In many ways Nightmares Come at Night reminds me a bit of A Virgin Among the Living Dead with its dream like feel and even if I gave each film the same rating this isn’t nearly as good. This also reminds me a bit of Female Vampire in regards to both films have some strong moments, but are also extremely sluggish in pacing to where it can be difficult to keep focus. Despite running at just over 85-minutes Nightmares Come at Night does feel overly long and probably would have been better served at 70-75-minutes. However there is also plenty good here as well, Franco does stage some eerie and mysterious atmosphere with a dreamlike feel. Like I said there is no doubt Franco was a unique filmmaker and I hate to keep saying it, but there was a good filmmaker somewhere inside him as films like Nightmares Come at Night have a lot of great ideas, but it Franco in general just wasn’t good enough to develop these ideas. Perhaps I’m not giving Franco enough credit and the writing, which was weak, but perhaps not everything was meant to make sense in order to create the dreamlike quality.

Visually the film is quite interesting and at times it works well and others it seems like nobody knows what they’re doing. There is a girl on girl sex scene, but the way it was shot it isn’t very erotic and add the out of focus shots, which at first I thought was a mistake, but seeing as a lot of Franco films have out of focus shots it must have been some weird creative choice. However the lesbian sex scene is still a lot of fun, but not very erotic.

My review may not sound very positive, but despite my issues in some weird way I enjoyed the film thanks in part to the stunning Diana Lorys and the dreamlike feel the film has going for it. While most of the films I liked by Franco are mostly 3-star ratings (Awful Dr. Orlof is the highest with 3.5), but I’m really slowly starting to dig his work and offbeat vision. Nightmares Come at Night can be quite sluggish and quite easy to dismiss as another subpar film, but it does have more going for it than people realize including myself until I thought about it some more.

There are plenty of notable faces here such as Diana Lorys who starred in Jess Franco’s the Awful Dr. Orlof. Jack Taylor who appeared in Franco’s Female Vampire and is probably best know to fans of cult cinema as Professor Brown in Juan Piquer Simon’s so bad its good cult classic Pieces. Paul Muller was another Franco regular and than there is Soledad Miranda who was a Franco regular appears under the name Susan Korda. The year this film was released Soledad was tragically killed in an automobile accident. However she still had a few films shot with the last being released in 1974 and was directed by Jess Franco and came 4-years after her death.

Nightmares Come at Night was released on blu-ray by Redemption Films and looks fantastic though not in the typical way. The grain structure is quite high (though some of this was intentional by Jess Franco) and there is a lot of print damage and while there seems to be more print damage than other Franco releases by Redemption it fits and really captures that Grindhouse feel. Bret Wood who works for Kino-Lorber and Redemption explains why the picture quality looks as it does and no complaints from me. There are some excellent features including an audio commentary from Tim Lucas. My advice is watch the film with the French track as the English dub is atrocious and at times has an echo like sound.

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A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973) Review

Posted in Virgin Among the Living Dead with tags , , on January 23, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD

*** Out of 5

Release Date- November 15th, 1973

Running Time- 79-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Christine von Blanc, Britt Nickols, Rosa Palomar, Anne Libert, Howard Vernon

Released in 1973 Christina, Princess of Eroticism also goes under the more common title A Virgin Among the Living Dead. The film actually has three different versions and the Redemption Blu-ray release contains two of those cuts. After the film was made due to the growing popularity of erotic films another filmmaker was brought in to shoot scenes with full frontal nudity (both male and female) and add in some sex scenes. These scenes are on the Blu-ray releases as an extra feature. These scenes feel as of they were taken from another film since they don’t fit in at all. Than in the 80s with the growing popularity of zombie films, Jean Rollin was brought in to shoot a few scenes involving zombies and that footage was edited into the film and it was re-titled A Virgin Among the Living Dead and with the newly added scenes the film ran at about 90-minutes, 11-minutes or so longer than the Franco original version. Even Franco’s cut of the film is sometimes put out under the A Virgin Among the Living Dead title. When it comes to Jess Franco I’ll admit I’ve never really been a big fan of his work. More often than not I find his films shoddy in quality, which isn’t really a big deal since I’m a fan of filmmakers such as Ed Wood and Juan Piquer Simon, but my biggest issue with Jess Franco is the pacing of his films and that with the shoddy filmmaking is why I’m not a huge fan even if I do enjoy his work to some degree. But even in films I enjoyed I had issues with the pacing like Female Vampire, which can be quite sluggish in spots, but more or less made up for with the graphic nudity with Lina Romay. However Jess Franco at times has shown to be a fairly competent filmmaker. Bloody Moon, which Franco had no control over was a fairly decent slasher film and generally well made (at least in slasher film regards) and Franco actually was able to build a little suspense and while it’s not edge of your seat suspense it’s the very least decent, but even that film I had issues with the pacing, but I’d blame the screenplay more than anything Franco did as a director. A Virgin Among the Living Dead like Bloody Moon, shows Franco can be a competent filmmaker and while despite running at 79-minutes I did again have issues with the pace, but this would probably be my favorite Jesùs Franco or top 3.

I’m not entirely sure how to describe the plot without spoiling the film, but basically Christina (von Blanc) heads to a remote castle to stay with estranged members of her family for the reading of her fathers will. But once there satanic rituals other other strange happenings occur.

The screenplay by Jess Franco is probably better written than the good portion of his other films I doubt anyone will really cite the writing as the strength of the film, but when all is said and done the script is surprisingly decent. Characters are fairly interesting and while there isn’t a whole lot of plot what there is I found interesting. Like I said the script isn’t great, but fair enough and is possibly Franco’s most interesting and perhaps his best script as well.

As director Jess Franco delivers a film better than I expected out of him. As I mentioned earlier my biggest problem with his films even the ones I liked is the pacing. Despite running at 79-minutes I did find the pace a little sluggish in spots more so in the 2nd half. This isn’t a film with a lot of action and I can see where some viewers might be a little bored, but what kept me invested was Franco, sets up an odd and mysterious tone to the film with almost a bad dream kind of feel. With the really odd tone and making excellent use of his locations, Franco also sets up some eerie atmosphere as well. Lets make no mistake this isn’t exactly filmmaking at its very best, but it is a competent film and oddly enjoyable. In typical Franco fashion there is plenty of nudity on display and plenty of odd moments, but everything here is just handled better than the good portion of his filmography. Jess Franco’s films really intrigue me since at times he can make a truly lousy hack job that can be listed as one of the worst films, but than he can make a film like this, which has atmosphere and even some suspense and even when Franco is at his best I still wouldn’t label him anything else except a little above average, but he’s an interesting filmmaker with how he can make such a poor film and that make a fairly solid one.

Overall I actually enjoyed A Virgin Among the Living Dead far more than I expected. It has some nice eerie and mysterious atmosphere and while the pacing can be a little sluggish if you’re patient it’s worth it in the end as its a surprisingly decent film from Jess Franco. Jesùs Franco appears in a very odd role as Basillo credited under the name Jesus Manera.

As I mentioned A Virgin Among the Living Dead also goes under the titles Christina, Princess of Eroticism and even Zombie 4. I once wrote an article on the Zombie series though not every film was listed and in the case of this film Zombie 4 was of course to link it in with Romero’s Dawn of the Dead since it certain places in Europe it was titled Zombi and Fulci’s Zombi 2 was originally titled Zombie Flesh Eaters, but changed to Zombi 2 to make it seem like a sequel to Romero’s film and after that many upon many films would have the Zombi title such as Burial Ground and Living Dead At Manchester Morgue both re-titled Zombi 3 with several other films having an alternate title of Zombi 3 and none of these films were connected to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and none of the films titled Zombi were actually connected to each other except Fulci’s Zombi 3, which was a sequel to Zombi 2 though each of those two films stand on their own. A Virgin Among the Living Dead despite the title isn’t a zombie film (though the Jean Rollin scenes do add zombies to the film) and even though it also carries the Zombie 4 title it was originally released 5-years before Dawn of the Dead. The Zombie 4 title came about in the 80s due to the zombie craze.

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Bloody Moon (1981) Review

Posted in Bloody Moon with tags , , on May 19, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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BLOODY MOON

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Don’t Panic It Only Happens Once in a Bloody Moon

Release Date- March 27th, 1981

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Erich Tomek (as Rayo Casablanca)

Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Olivia Pascal, Christopher Brugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Alexander Waechter, Peter Exacoustos

Released in 1981 Bloody Moon was made to cash in on the growing popularity of the American slasher film and Bloody Moon also has some influence from the Italian Giallo, which are similar to slasher films with a slight difference in execution. However this far more plays up to slasher conventions and was directed by exploitation filmmaker Jesùs Franco and while I get the appeal of his work I can’t really say I’m a fan, but from time to time I will watch his films and I do enjoy some of his work. Going into a Jess Franco film you know you aren’t gonna see Martin Scorsese like quality, but his films were a little too sloppy and rough looking for my liking in general. Jess Franco died April 2nd, 2013 and according to the IMDb has 199 directing credits and when you make as many films as he did and under so many alias it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s done even more than that. With so many credits at some point you’re bound to get it right and will also have some truly terrible films, but like I said I never really cared for the bulk of Franco’s work with the exceptions being Female Vampire, which I didn’t love, but enjoyed it a bit more than most of his films, but my enjoyment had little to do with Franco and a lot more to do with Lina Romay (she was actually an assistant director on Bloody Moon under the name Rosa Almirail) and I also liked A Virgin Among the Living Dead.

Bloody Moon is quite different than the typical Franco film as here he was simply a director for hire with very little of his style on display since all the changes he wanted to make were shot down. He was also promised a lot of things on the film in terms of crew members and was even told Pink Floyd agreed to score the film of course this wasn’t true and Jess Franco wasn’t very pleased with being lied to, but all things considered Bloody Moon is in terms of production a step above most of his films and this looks a little more professional and is one of the few Jess Franco films I sort of enjoy. If you aren’t really a fan of his films you might still enjoy this since again very little of his style is on display and for better or worse doesn’t really feel like a Jess Franco film and if anything the best way to describe this is when an Indie filmmaker makes a film for a major studio.

After brutally murdering a woman with a pair of scissors, Miguel (Waechter) who has one half of his face disfigured is locked up in an insane asylum and after 5-years he’s released into the care of his sister Manuela (Gerganoff). Along with their aunt the two run a boarding school for women that teaches different languages. Not long after Miguel returns the murders start as someone is picking off the women at the school.

The screenplay was written by Erich Tomek under the name Rayo Casablanca who at the time was a production manager and was also the production manager on Bloody Moon. The script by Casablanca is weaker than most slasher films and the characters are among the most faceless victims ever seen in a slasher film, which wouldn’t be so bad if the film was action packed, but the middle sections Casablanca focuses more on characters and plot and this film had very little of both and therefore Bloody Moon can make for a frustrating viewing as you wait and wait for the action to start up again. All the characters are better off dead with the exception of the heroine Angela (Pascal) and even she can be a bit annoying at times. Characters can often do the dumbest things and rather than be fun its more frustrating and this is partly on Casablanca and Franco as well. There is also an incest subplot between Miguel and his sister Manuela, but overall yeah I know complaining about a screenplay in a slasher film might sound silly, but Casablanca’s script is one of the more shallow and lifeless slasher scripts and since he spends so much time focusing on the characters the film gets a bit boring. Perhaps Casablanca wanted to add more depth to his script rather than the typical stalk and slash, but he simply isn’t a good enough writer to do that.

More often than not in my opinion a lot of Jess Franco’s films can be a little rough looking visually and Bloody Moon isn’t exactly Dario Argento with the visual aspect, but it looks a lot better than a lot of Franco’s other films. Also in Franco’s films the editing can at times be choppy and when it comes to the editing even if Franco didn’t edit the movie as the director he does have involvement, but than again when you made as many films as Franco who could be very active at times, once it’s shot who knows how involved he was in the editing process. The editing in Bloody Moon can at times be choppy, but it’s better than what one might be used to seeing from a Jess Franco production. But hey this is is Jess Franco film after all and editing can be a little rough at times and from the visual side outside of the opening death, Bloody Moon looks more professional. The pacing of the film is a bit sloppy, but this has more to do with the writing as for a good portion of the middle the script focuses more on characters and seeing as they’re so bland and faceless not even the most talented director could get much out of these scenes. Franco does the best he can, but based on the script again there was very little he could do. The one thing that I did kind of find surprising is there is actually some decent moments of suspense. It’s not John Carpenter’s Halloween or anything, but Franco does entice a couple of scenes with a little bit of suspense and while its nothing really great or anything it’s not the typical Franco one might be used to.

The overall production is far better than the bulk of Franco’s films and while the film can be a little rough around the edges at times (again this is a Jess Franco film), but Bloody Moon while not greatly made is far more competent than I’m used to seeing from Franco. The biggest problem here again is the script and Franco who was simply a director for hire with very little say as as I stated before anything he wanted to change was shot down and he wasn’t happy with the production as he was promised certain things and none ended up happening, but Franco handles everything well and delivers a film better made than the good portion of his work and as I mentioned the suspense isn’t anything special, but there are some decent moments and this film doesn’t exactly change my mind on Franco if anything though Bloody Moon does show he can stage a decently made film (at least for low budget slashers). In the end the biggest downfall is the very subpar script and Franco actually manages to make a little more out of the film than there was, but in the end Bloody Moon still has too many flaws to rise above anything besides average at best.

The death scenes were fairly cool with one girl being stabbed in the back and the blade coming out of her nipple and we have a nasty decapitation from a circular saw and even though its clearly a dummy being used its still a really awesome death scene. Though with that said while Bloody Moon does feature a decent amount of gore I didn’t find it any gorier than the run of the mill 80s slasher film. I was expecting something more along the lines of Juan Piquer Simon’s Pieces, which for some reason this film is often compared to. I suppose both being set at a school and like J. Simon, Jess Franco is also from Spain, but these two films really are nothing a like, but I was expecting this to be an all out gore film and again while there is gore and some nasty death scenes I really didn’t find it as gory as its reputation.

Overall Bloody Moon is an entertaining slasher film and while by no means is it among the elite it does serve for a decent time killer. The middle sections when the film focuses on the characters is what in the end sinks the movie, but despite these problems I still think slasher fans will still get some enjoyment out of the movie. As I stated this isn’t exactly suspenseful, but Franco actually delivers a couple of decent moments. We got great looking women who are often naked or wearing see through clothing, some decent gore. This film is strictly for slasher fans and or fans of Jess Franco. Like I said even for those like myself that aren’t big fans of Jess Franco it really doesn’t feel like a Jess Franco film for the most part. Look for Jesùs Franco in a bit role as a Dr.

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