Archive for Jesus Franco

Sadomania (1982) Review

Posted in Sadomania with tags , , , , on January 28, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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SADOMANIA

*** Out of 5

Release Date- March 27th, 1981

Running Time- 103-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Jesùs Franco & Gunter Ebert

Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Ajita Wilson, Andrea Guzzon, Ursula Fellner, Robert Foster, Uta Koepke, Gina Jansen

Released in 1981 Sadomania, which also goes under the title Hellhole Women is a WIP (Women in Prison) film from exploitation filmmaker Jesùs Franco and while I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Franco as I’ve stated in other reviews he is a filmmaker that really intrigues me even if I find the good bulk of his work a bit below average. When it comes to the WIP film, while not the first it was the Roger Corman produced films that set the formula for these films to follow and while the Corman productions had a little sleaze the ones that followed upped the ante in terms of sexual content and violence. The Corman produced WIP films weren’t tame, but other filmmakers such as Franco added a lot more sleaze and graphic nudity. However Jess Franco can also be seen as the filmmaker that shaped the WIP film with his 1969 release 99 Women, but I’d stand by my comment of the Corman produced WIP films that had the bigger impact. The 70s is when the WIP film was most profitable and perhaps the very early 80s, but as home video started to grow the days of the Grindhouse cinemas and drive-ins were fading, but as a whole the exploitation film was starting to die out despite the best efforts of a few filmmakers and the WIP film weren’t produced at a very high rate and the more into the 80s we got and by a certain time they were pretty much a thing of the past.

As I mentioned Jess Franco really intrigues me even if I find the bulk of his work that I’ve seen subpar and even the films I liked by him I would rate a little above average. However I think somewhere in Franco there was a decent filmmaker, but perhaps there was more money and work for that matter in his low budget exploitation films. My favorite Franco film was The Awful Dr. Orlof, which while a bit rough around the edges was an excellent horror film that showed potential. I enjoyed Orlof far more than I ever expected to and wish he would have done more work like that. A Virgin Among the Living Dead while in many ways the typical Franco film of the 70s also had legit atmosphere and even Bloody Moon, which Franco was more or less a director for hire actually had some decent suspense at times even if the film as a whole was average. It’s films like Sadomania that Jess Franco is best remembered for and again I suppose films like this might have been more profitable and also got him far more work, but I do find it a bit frustrating how he can make such a solid film like Awful Dr. Orlof and while again the typical Franco film with A Virgin Among the Living Dead, but it had such great atmosphere to make up for some of the flaws. Like I said I wish he would have done more work like Orlof or even A Virgin Among the Living Dead (atmosphere wise).

Sadomania is just off the wall insane, Jess Franco just goes all out and after viewing this film I can now say I’ve seen it all. Sadomania was banned in the UK and highly censored in the States until Blue-Underground released it uncut on DVD and later reissued it with 4 other films called Bad Girls Behind Bars Collection. Sadomania is one of the most twisted films I’ve seen, but hey it’s a Jess Franco film so nothing is offensive or disturbing cause its such a hack job. The prisoners are topless throughout the film, the prison guards are also topless, but where the film gets bizarre is a girl is tied up and a dog is sent in and I don’t think I need to tell you what happened next and even Jess Franco appears in the film playing a flamboyant gay character named Lucas. One of the stars was Ajita Wilson who was a transsexual and Wilson appears later in the film with a fake mustache and has a sex scene with Jess Franco. Sadomania has it all and really the only thing missing is the lovely Lina Romay who was married to Jess Franco.

The screenplay by Jesùs Franco & Gunter Ebert has no real plot and is poorly written, but its also a lot of fun as its filled with silly, but hysterical dialogue and some insane out of this world scenes. I don’t think anyone cares about the writing in a film like this because I sure don’t, but the script is often really funny and I have to assume Franco & Ebert had those exact intentions.

Director Jesùs Franco crafts one fun film and at 103-minutes, Sadomania is a little overly long, but pacing is fairly strong due to how absurd the film is. There is nudity throughout to go with some violence and wild over the top scenes that always keep Sadomania a lot of fun. There are a couple of girl on girl scenes, which is awesome, but they aren’t very erotic due to how they were shot and the same goes for any of the sex scenes. At times due to how it was shot you really can’t see much and other times the camera was a little out of focus, which is common in Jess Franco films and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not or maybe at times it was, but seeing as out of focus shots are common in Jess Franco films I have to assume it was a weird creative choice. However the girl on girl scenes are still hot even if not fully erotic. Basically, Franco throws in twisted scene after twisted scene, but it really isn’t disturbing due to how absurd and campy things are. Even in the films I liked by him they were a little rough around the edges, and even Franco has admitted he wasn’t exactly the best filmmaker, but he found a style that worked and while some might knock his films as hack jobs there is a reason why Jess Franco had 199 directing credits prior to his death in April of 2013 and why his films are still sought out.

The women are all smoking hot and topless throughout and they all kinda lookalike, which makes it difficult to tell them a part, but who cares they’re all naked. Ajita Wilson is wonderful as Madga the cruel warden. Sadly Ajita died in 1987 in an automobile accident. And in case you’re wondering Ajita was a post-op transsexual, which is sort of made clear by her full frontal nudity in Sadomania.

Overall Sadomania is quite a twisted film, but as I stated its such a campy hack job nothing here is offensive. Jess Franco continues to intrigue me and as long as they’re released I’ll continue to seek out his work. Fans of exploitation cinema should love this as it has everything you could want in a low budget trashy exploitation film. While not as good as the Corman WIP films I’d still rate Sadomania as one of my favorites. It’s silly, campy and trashy and I’m sure it turned out exactly as Jesùs Franco intended it to be.

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Oasis of the Zombies (1982) Review

Posted in Oasis of the Zombies with tags , , on April 23, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES

** Out of 5

Release Date- April 21st, 1982

Running Time- 82-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- A.L. Mariaux (Jesus Franco)

Director- A.M. Frank (Jesus Franco)

Starring- Manuel Gelin, France Jordan, Jeff Montgomery, Eric Saint-Just, Caroline Audret, Henry Lambert

As a fan of B-movies I totally get the appeal of the films by Jess Franco, but in general I’ve never really been a fan of his work with really the exception of Female Vampire and my enjoyment of the film had nothing to do with the writing or directing, but more to do with the graphic nude scenes curtesy of the amazingly beautiful Lina Romay (Franco’s wife). Like Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei, Jess Franco has built a large cult following for films often dubbed so bad their good. Like I said I never really liked Franco’s work (same for Fragasso and Mattei), but sure I can easily see why Franco would appeal to certain people and hey I’m a big fan of Juan Piquer Simon or as he’s known to American viewers J. Simon (Pieces, Slugs).

Oasis of the Zombies released in 1982 is a nazi themed zombie film much like Zombie Lake, which was released the previous year. Jess Franco also wrote Zombie Lake under the name A.L. Mariaux, which he also uses here with Oasis of the Zombies. Originally, Franco was set to direct Zombie Lake, but bailed and Jean Rollin took over and for years denied he directed the film. As bad as Zombie Lake turned out it was a film that also had plenty of fun moments whereas Oasis of the Zombies is just flat out boring for a good portion of its running time and despite the fact the film only runs at 82- minutes it felt like 202-minutes.

Robert (Gelin) leads a group on an expedition for buried treasure, but they find it guarded by nazi zombies who than rise from the dead.

Written by Jesus Franco under the name A.L. Mariaux, the script for Oasis of the Zombies is as bad as you’ll find. Characters are bland and boring with zero depth and the film is poorly plotted. To be honest as far as the plot does I often zoned out on the film because it was so poor. I don’t think anyone will ever cite Franco’s scripts as a reason why they like his work, but even for his standards this was a complete boring mess.

Jess Franco directs under the name A.M. Frank and I really fail to see the point of the film. Unlike past Franco films, which sometimes feature gore or more likely graphic nudity, Oasis of the Zombies has none of that really. Gore wise there is nothing to see here and any nudity is no more than you’ll find in an R-rated film. While I don’t need gore or graphic nudity to hold my interest, but in a movie this poor it sure does help. The film gets off to a solid start, but quickly goes downhill. The pacing of the film is very slow and half the time I stopped paying attention. From a visual side, Oasis of the Zombies is horrid looking with very poor editing. I’m not really sure what the point of this film was. It doesn’t feature the things Franco is known for, which would be fine if he were a competent filmmaker, but there is zero suspense and tension and if that’s what Franco was aiming for it was a complete failure. This had to just be a cheap quickie in hopes for a quick and easy payday.

Oasis of the Zombies is a really poor film; poorly shot, edited, no story, no gore, very little nudity, stock shots and the zombies range from ok looking to quite poor. Nazi zombies were never hugely popular with the exception of Shock Waves and to a lesser degree Zombie Lake so I’m not sure what made Franco think this would be a good idea. Zombie films were still quite popular at the time and there was a heavy dose coming out of Europe (mainly Italy), but this features none of what made those films a cult favorites and when even compared to its companion piece Zombie Lake, Oasis of the Zombies is even quite inferior to that, which is a scary thought. I really can’t think of much positive to say besides at least the movie ended. I saw a really best up copy, which looks like a VHS print and Redemption released this title on blu-ray. Perhaps seeing a better copy I’ll be able to get more into it, but I’m in no rush to seek this out again. Again I get the appeal of Jess Franco, but really with the exception of Female Vampire I find the good portion of his work a bore and again even Female Vampire I only enjoyed due to the graphic nudity by Lina Romay.

Oasis of the Zombies also goes under the titles The Treasure of the Living Dead, Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies & The Oasis of the Living Dead.

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Kiss Me Killer (1977) Review

Posted in Kiss Me Killer with tags , , , on March 17, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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KISS ME KILLER

** Out of 5

Release Date- March 31st, 1977

Running Time- 99-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- David Khunne & Roland Marceignac

Director- Roland Marceignac (Jesus Franco)

Starring- Alberto Dalbés, Acosta, Alice Arno, Lina Romay

Released in 1977, Kiss Me Killer directed Jesus Franco under the name Roland Marceignac is a remake of one of his movies from the 60s and while Kiss Me Killer had potential to be a fun revenge themed crime/drama, Franco though just makes a mess of a film that’s boring visually and a bit confusing in execution. Drug kingpin Freddy Carter (Dalbés) is betrayed by members of his gang and left for dead. 2-years later, Freddy is back and out for revenge.

The screenplay by David Khunne & Roland Marceignac is poorly plotted despite an interesting idea. The characters are dull and boring and the script is just simply put a mess. Again the idea is interesting and with better writers this could have been something decent rather than the hack job it turned out to be.

As director, Jesus Franco or should I say Roland Marceignac delivers a sloppy and poorly paced film as well as a poorly shot film. The few action scenes are boring and lifeless the crime/drama part of the film is quite boring and there is no excitement to be found here at all with the story. Nothing here really works and its basically hack filmmaking. At 99-minutes the film is also way too long and it can be a chore to sit through. Kiss Me Killer like many of Franco’s other films is also a soft core porn and Franco leaves nothing to the imagination as he zooms in on and gets very close shots of a certain part of the female body. The sex scenes aren’t very erotic for the most part and are quite boring, but Lina Romay is so beautiful that the scenes are also very hot simply due to her. While some felt the soft core aspect of the film took away from the story I felt it added to the film as Franco fails at every turn with a boring and lifeless film and the sex scenes are about the only real thing of interest and again despite the sex scenes also being a hack job they work simply due to Lina Romay being total hotness.

Overall Kiss Me Killer is quite a boring and sloppy film and while I liked the idea behind the film, Jesus Franco simply doesn’t have the skill level to pull it off. I very much get the appeal of Franco’s films and there are some by him I do enjoy, but for the most part his films are quite poor (and not always in a good way) and Kiss Me Killer is just a bore of a film only really saved by the stunning Lina Romay. You’d be better off fast forwarding through the film and only watching her scenes. Franco fans might get something out of this, but for those who feel he’s hit or miss like I do will mostly be zoning out of this boring mess.

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Female Vampire (1973) Review

Posted in Female Vampire with tags , , , , on March 11, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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FEMALE VAMPIRE

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Maailman Kuulu Shokki

Release Date- April 14th, 1973

Running Time- 100-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Gerard Brisseau & J.P. Johnson

Director- J.P. Johnson (Jesus Franco)

Starring- Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, Jesus Franck, Luis Barboo

At one time in the horror genre there was a saying horror films were one step above porn, but with Female Vampire you can make a case for this being one step below porn. The production values are cheap and at times the camera out of focus (not sure if that was a creative choice or Franco being a hack). The whole production does seem like something out of a porn film. As for the plot there is one sort of, but honestly porn flicks have had better plots. Female Vampire is a sexploitation film and while I have zero problems with sex in film I’ve never been overly fond of sexploitation films. I quite honestly don’t really see the point of them with that said it doesn’t mean I dislike them its more of I simply don’t seek them out. But with films like Female Vampire why not just make it a porn flick since the film is very sexual and feels like a porn film to begin with since more effort was put on sex than anything else. The film was co-written and directed by Jesus Franco under the name J.P. Johnson and those who know Franco’s work should more or less know what to expect.

The film is about Countess Irina Karlstein (Romay) who suffers from the curse of her ancestors, vampirism. But you see she isn’t the typical blood sucking vampire her thing is while going down on someone she drains the life from them.

The film opens with Irina nude, all she has on is a cape, belt and boots. The camera moves in on her breasts than a little lower if you catch my meaning. And as Irina is walking she bumps into the camera (I told you this was a Jesus Franco film). So right from the very start we know exactly what we are in for. For most of the film Lina Romay is nude and when clothed its see through. The film is quite graphic in its sexuality, which isn’t such a bad thing considering Lina Romay is stunningly beautiful. I’m not even sure this film should be called a horror movie. There are 2 cuts of the film; we have a 72-minute cut, which plays up to the horror (which is very little to begin with) and 102-minute version that is more sexually explicit. And yes there is that much sex that 30-minutes could easily be cut, and seeing as all the deaths occur during a sex act there would still be plenty of sexual situations. I saw the longer sexually themed cut and I’m not sure if there really is a point of seeing the shorter cut.

The screenplay by Gerard Brisseau & J.P. Johnson is more or less just filling in time until we get to the sex scenes. Outside of the sex scenes there really isn’t much going on and the script is what you would expect from this type of film and while not the worst written movie again it’s just filling in time until the sex scenes. There are some good ideas however, but neither Brisseau or Franco are competent enough to develop these ideas. We also have a pointless subplot with Jack Taylor (known to horror fans from the cult classic Pieces) and if anything like the non-sexual themes this is just there to fill in some required time before we get back to the sex and nudity.

Director Jesus Franco crafts an uneven flick and at 102-minutes it can be overly long at times and even a tad but boring until we get to the sex scenes. Having Romay naked throughout does help make up for the sluggish pacing. The film is also quite sleazy as one scene has Irina going down on another woman and when her head pops back up she has some fluids dripping from her lips and by that point the other woman is dead and Irina begins to rub herself (I’m sure you know what I am referring to) and yes we see all of the lovely Lina Romay. When the focus isn’t on sex, Franco delivers a very sluggish paced film that can be a tad bit boring at times. Like how the script had a few good ideas so does the direction, but Franco simply isn’t a good enough director to work these ideas.

The sex scenes are quite erotic and are meant to turn on the viewer and it is quite sexy even if sleazy. We have some long scenes of sex and again Lina Romay is stunning and it is exciting to watch as we have Lina Romay with men and women (2 scenes of girl on girl with the 2nd going for an S&M vibe). However the problem we have at times is things are sometimes shot too close up and here and there the camera is out of focus, but overall the film is very sexy and Romay so beautiful the film will no doubt turn the viewer on as its quite erotic. Jesus Franco does seem to have little interest in anything not revolving sex and perhaps that’s why the non-sex scenes are poorly paced and any decent idea Franco had is downplayed. When Irina isn’t having sex with someone she’s also pleasing herself as there is a crazy scene featuring Lina and a bedpost and while I get the appeal of these films and again it was quite erotic I think Franco would have been better off making a porn flick.

Fans of sexploitation films might wanna seek this one out and while I did like the film since its hard to dislike it since Lina Romay is so beautiful and the sex acts quite erotic I still really don’t see the point of these films since you’re basically watching a porn just without real sex scenes. Overall I did like the film, but wouldn’t rate it as a favorite or anything, but what I do find interesting is so many people complain about sex in cinema and while sure some films can be a little graphic, but not go too far so they can keep the R rating I often wonder what those prudes would think seeing something like this, which makes R-rated sex scenes PG material. So I guess moral of the story is I liked the film, but by no means a favorite, but if you can get past some of the sluggishly paced scenes its worth it for Lina Romay.

Besides co-writing and directing, Franco also appears as Dr. Roberts under the name Jesus Franck and was also the DP under the name Joan Franco and lastly was the editor using the name P. Querut.

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Zombie Lake (1981) Review

Posted in Zombie Lake with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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ZOMBIE LAKE

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- God Help Us If They Rise Again

Release Date- May 13th, 1981

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Julius Valery & A.L. Mariaux (Julian Esteban, Jesus Franco)

Director- J.A. Laser (Jean Rollin)

Starring- Howard Vernon, Pierre Escourrou, Antonio Mayans, Nadine Pascale, Burt Altman

I think I should get some kind of reward for sitting through Zombie Lake because to say this movie is bad would be a major under statement. I could be taken hostage by terrorists and tortured for hours upon hours and I would laugh in their faces and say this is nothing I sat through Zombie Lake! I think if you wanna get answers from criminals or terrorists simply put them in a room play Zombie Lake and within minutes they would be talking. However with all that said the film is just downright hysterical; I was in complete awe at how bad this film was that I don’t think words can fully describe it. The really scary thing is I think I would actually be open to watching it again perhaps even adding it to my collection. When a film is such a hack job like Zombie Lake its quite difficult to fully hate the film. And make no mistake Zombie Lake is a hack job and easily one of the worst films you can ever sit through, but despite how bad the movie was it still provides plenty of laughs in how truly awful it was.

Released in 1981 Zombie Lake came out during a time when it seemed every horror flick was either a slasher or zombie movie. And while the slasher film had an edge zombies weren’t too far behind and whenever something in the horror genre is a success everybody gets in on it, which after a while leads us to some truly horrible films. Zombie Lake is truly bottom of the barrel cinema and I can’t even fully begin to explain what a hack job this was from the writing, directing, music, F/X and the acting and its no surprise that so many involved used an alias or denied being involved with the film since I would as well, but with that said only in the horror genre can a film be this terrible, but yet fun as well.

If anything I think this film was made just to have women get naked. The film opens with a woman getting fully naked and going for a swim in the lake and you see everything and I mean everything! When she’s under water her legs spread a part yeah you get the picture. Later in the film a bunch of girls go swimming and again you see everything including yes again their naughty part. I have zero complaints, but I am sure the 12-year old in would have rated this a 5 simply for that (the 30 something in me wants to rate it higher due to that). While the film doesn’t really go for sleaze, but due to these shots it does get a bit sleazy. While I don’t need to see this in a film I do miss the days when filmmakers weren’t afraid to show everything.

The film is set in France during the 50s (while my knowledge of 1950s France is quite low I doubt it looked like this), but there is a lake where Nazi soldiers were killed and dumped into the lake, but of course they come back as zombies and kill anyone nearby.

The screenplay was written by Julian Esteban under the name Julius Valery and Jesus Franco under the name A.L. Mariaux. To say their script is horrible is putting it very mildly. This has to rate as one of the dumbest screenplays ever written and its quite amazing how two people could actually write this. All the characters are complete idiots and everything is just well horrible. There are also long stretches without any dialogue and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing! However in between all idiocy and terrible dialogue there is actually some decent ideas if you can believe that. The script also takes place during WWII and we have a love story between a German solider and French woman and they have a child. This one solider zombie is even more evolved than others and seems to retain some memories and he even tries to protect a little girl that has some kind of connection to a woman from his past. We later find out the little girl is actually his daughter. But you even have evolved zombie fight another zombie. Actually this really wasn’t a bad idea, but the film is such a hack job rather than be deep and dramatic its laughable and like I have said before unless you’re George A. Romero keep your zombies mindless since it always fails with the smart zombies. Only Romero can pull that off and even Romero out times can sort of miss with that. The script is downright pathetic and I have to assume Esteban and Franco knew exactly what they were writing.

Originally the film was also to be directed by Jesus Franco and for some reason he ended up not making it and in his place came Jean Rollin who than apparently regretted it after reading the script and for many years denied having anything to do with the film. Rollin used the alias J.A. Laser. I know of Jean Rollin or should I say J.A. Laser, but I haven’t seen a lot of his work and what I have seen its been many years. The direction by Rollin is horrible to say the least. I think its clear he had no passion for the film as he knew no filmmaker could salvage this mess of a script and he never really tries and it seems the scenes with the women naked are the only times any effort was put it. The film is a bit sloppy in its pacing as at times the film is so bad its almost unwatchable and other moments its such a hack job its a lot of fun. The death scenes are the same for the most part and quite often hysterical. When some of the characters die the acting is so bad its some of the funniest scenes you’ll ever see. Jean Rollin crafts one of the worst films ever made, but like I said when a film is this much of a hack job its really difficult to fully hate.

How about the F/X? The zombie makeup is so cheap looking it looks as if green paint was applied and to be totally honest anybody could get the same results if they tried. The zombies look like skinny versions of the Incredible Hulk!

I was at times in awe at how bad Zombie Lake was; the reviews you may have read are legit. However unlike many other others I had fun with this. There are moments when the film is just plain bad and not in a fun way, but its such a hack job I can’t help, but have a soft spot for it. Zombie Lake easily goes down as one of the worst films ever made, but if you can sit back and relax and poke fun of the movie you might find yourself entertained at times.

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