4 Shots From 4 Films: The Exorcist, Female Vampire, Ganja and Hess, The Wicker Man


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1973 Horror Films

The Exorcist (1973, dir by William Friedkin)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco)

Ganja and Hess (1973, dir by Bill Gunn)

The Wicker Man (1973, dir by Robin Hardy)

4 Shots From 4 Jess Franco Films: The Awful Dr. Orloff, Count Dracula, A Virgin Among The Living Dead, Female Vampire


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Yesterday, we paid tribute to Jean Rollin.  Today, we pay tribute to another master of Eurohorror with….

4 Shots From 4 Jess Franco Films

The Awful Dr. Orloff (1961, dir by Jess Franco)

Count Dracula (1970, dir by Jess Franco)

A Virgin Among The Living Dead (1971, dir by Jess Franco)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Jess Franco Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s filmmaker: the legendarily prolific Jess Franco!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962, dir by Jess Franco)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco)

Oasis of the Zombies (1982, dir by Jess Franco)

Faceless (1988, dir by Jess Franco)

4 Shots From 4 Jess Franco Films: Count Dracula, Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy, Female Vampire


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Count Dracula (1970, directed by Jess Franco)

Count Dracula (1970, directed by Jess Franco)

Vampyros Lesbos (1971, directed by Jess Franco)

Vampyros Lesbos (1971, directed by Jess Franco)

She Killed in Ecstasy (1971, directed by Jess Franco)

She Killed in Ecstasy (1971, directed by Jess Franco)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco)

Ten Trailers From Jess Franco


francohimself1I was saddened to learn of the passing of Jess Franco. Franco directed at least 199 films and, while he was never a favorite of the critics, he was a favorite for those of us who appreciated his unique aesthetic and improvisational style of filmmaking. Franco made a few good films and a lot of a bad films but even his worse films were usually more interesting than the usual films churned out by more “respectable” filmmakers. In a time when every director is claiming to be an independent artist, Franco truly was.

Trailers for Franco’s films often showed up in my Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers series.  Here’s ten of them.

1) Female Vampire

2) The Awful Dr. Orloff

3) Faceless

4) Venus In Furs

5) Necromonicon (a.k.a. Succubus)

6) Kiss Me Monster

7) Eugenie: Story of Her Journey Into Perversion

8) Vampyros Lesbos

9) The Castle of Fu Manchu

10) 99 Women

 

Jesus Franco Manera, R.I.P.

The Daily Grindhouse (Horror Edition): Female Vampire (dir. by Jess Franco)


My wonderful and loyal readers, I fear that I have failed you.  How is it, with my love of both grindhouse and Eurosleaze cinema, that I have yet to review a Jess Franco film on the site?  Halloween seems to be the perfect time to correct that oversight by taking a look at Franco’s infamous 1973 horror film, Female Vampire.

To truly “appreciate” a film like Female Vampire, it helps to know a little something about Jess Franco.  Working under a variety of pseudonyms, Spanish-born Jesus Franco Manera has been making films for over 60 years.   Among critics, Franco is usually either dismissed as a total hack (and/or pervert) or embraced as the living embodiment of the auteur theory.  Though no one’s quite sure how many films Franco has directed, Franco himself has estimated that he’s directed more than 200 films and, for the most part, he has financed and distributed them all on his own.  Franco has worked in every genre from thriller to comedy to hardcore pornography, but he is probably best known for directing low-budget, occasionally atmospheric erotic horror films like Female Vampire.

The opening of Female Vampire pretty much epitomizes everything that people love and hate about Jess Franco as a director.  The film begins with a series of ominous shots of a misty forrest.  The forest feels both beautiful and desolate at the same time and Franco’s camera lingers over the fog, building up an atmosphere of both mystery and melancholy.  Suddenly, we see one lone figure walking through the forest.  Irina (played by frequent Franco star Lina Romay) emerges from the fog, naked except for a cape and a belt.  The camera follows Irina as she walks through the mist.  When Irina stops and faces the audience, the camera zooms in to a close-up of her face and her body.  While Franco’s aim here is obviously to cater t0 the sexual fantasies of his predominately male audience, it’s still a remarkably strong scene because Romay faces the camera with such confidence that her nudity feels less like exploitation and more like empowerment.  (Romay was, like me, a self-described exhibitionist.)  Once Franco’s camera zooms away from Irina, she then starts to confidently approach the camera (and the audience as well).  She gets closer and closer to the camera until finally … she accidentally bumps her head on the lens.

That, for lack of a better example, totally sums the aesthetic of Jess Franco.  When you watch a Franco film, you’re left with the impression that Franco simply turned on the camera and recorded whatever happened to happen in front of it.  Occasionally, he managed to capture something unique and dramatic and just as often, he filmed someone bumping into the equipment or staring straight at the camera.  Whether he liked the spontaneity that came from an unexpected mistake or he just didn’t have enough money in his budget to do a second take, Franco would more often than not include these mistakes in his final film.

As for the rest of Female Vampire, it’s eventually established that. along with being a vampire, Irina is a countess and also a mute.  (At one point, we do hear her inner thoughts, a monologue in which she tells us, “I earnestly wish an end would come to this bloody race I am forced to run.”)  Several different cuts of Female Vampire have been released over the years and depending on which version you see, Irina either has to either regularly drink blood or drink semen in order to survive.  (“It was as if his potency was sucked out of him,” as the coroner puts it.)

While Irina spends all of her time wandering around a depressing resort town and seducing various victims, a poet (Jack Taylor) searches for her.  This poet — who spends a lot of time staring off into the distance and delivering inner monologues about walking down this road we call life — is determined that he and Irina are meant to be together.

There are many different version of Female Vampire currently in circulation.  For instance, a heavily-edited version was released in the U.S. as The Bare-Breasted Countess.   While Franco’s director’s cut lasts close to two hours, there are other versions that barely clock in at 70 minutes.  There’s a hard-core version, a soft-core version, and even a version that features close to no sex at all.  The version I saw was the DVD released by Image Entertainment.  That version is reportedly close to Franco’s original.

As is typical for a Franco film, not much happens in Female Vampire and what does happen doesn’t make much sense.  But, oddly enough, that actually worked in the film’s favor.  By ignoring things like plot and logic and by focusing on the film’s visuals, Franco made a film that literally feels like a dream.  Every scene is filled with an atmosphere of pure ennui and, when coupled with charisma of Lina Romay and Jack Taylor,  the end result is a film that’s strangely compelling.

Poll: Which Movie Should Lisa Marie Watch on March 20th?


Anyone who knows me knows that sometimes I just can’t help but love being dominated. 

That’s why, on occasion, I’ll give you, our beloved readers, the option of telling me which film to watch and review.  In the past, you’ve commanded me to watch and review Anatomy of a Murder, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Logan’s Run

Well, here’s your chance to, once again, tell me what to do.  I’ve randomly selected 12 films from my film collection.  Whichever film gets the most votes will be watched and reviewed by me next Tuesday, March 20th.

Here are the films up for consideration:

1) Black Jesus (1968) — This Italian film stars Woody Strode as an African rebel leader who is captured by his country’s right-wing, American-backed dictatorship. 

2) Capote (2005) — Philip Seymour Hoffman was an Oscar for best actor for playing writer Truman Capote in this film that details how Capote came to write his true crime classic, In Cold Blood.  This film was also nominated for best picture.

3) Chappaqua (1966) — In this underground cult classic, drug addict Conrad Rooks seeks treatment in Switzerland while being haunted by a scornful William S. Burroughs.  This film features cameo from Allen Ginsberg, The Fugs, and just about every other cult figure from 1966.

4) Crazy/Beautiful (2001) — Jay Fernandez and Kirsten Dunst have lots and lots of sex.  This was like one of my favorite movies to catch on cable back when I was in high school. 🙂

5) An Education (2008) — In my favorite movie from 2008, Carey Mulligan is a schoolgirl in 1960s England who has a secret affair with an older man (played by Peter Sarsgaard), who has plenty of secrets of his own.  Co-starring Rosamund Pike, Emma Thompson, Alfred Molina, and Dominic Cooper (who is to die for, seriously).

6) Female Vampire (1973) — In this atmospheric and ennui-filled film from the infamous Jesus Franco, a female vampire spends the whole movie wandering around naked and dealing with the lost souls who want to join the ranks of the undead. 

7) Nightmare City (1980) — In this gory and fast-paced film from Umberto Lenzi, an accident at a nuclear plant leads to a bunch of blood-thirsty zombies rampaging through both the city and the countryside.  Hugo Stiglitz plays Dean Miller, zombie exterminator!  Nightmare City is probably most remembered for introducing the concept of the fast zombie and for serving as an obvious inspiration for Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later.

8) The Other Side of Midnight (1977) — Based on a best-selling novel, The Other Side of Midnight tells the story of a poor French girl who becomes a world-famous actress and who ends up sleeping with apparently every wealthy man in the world.  Meanwhile, the man she loves ends up marrying Susan Sarandon.  Eventually, it all ends with both a hurricane and a murder.  Apparently, this film cost a lot of money to make and it was a notorious box office bomb.  It looks kinda fun to me.

9) Peyton Place (1957) — Also based on a best-selling novel, Peyton Place is about love, sex, and scandal in a small town.  Lana Turner is a repressed woman with a past who struggles to keep her daughter from making the same mistakes.  At the time it was made, it was considered to be quite racy and it was even nominated for best picture.  This film is a personal favorite of mine and it’s pretty much set the template for every single film ever shown on Lifetime.

10) Rosebud (1975) — From director Otto Preminger comes this film about what happens when a bunch of rich girls on a yacht are taken hostage by Islamic extremists.  The film’s diverse cast includes Peter O’Toole, Richard Attenborough, Cliff Gorman, former New York Mayor John Lindsay, former Kennedy in-law Peter Lawford, Raf Vallone, Adrienne Corri, Lalla Ward, Isabelle Huppert, and Kim Cattrall.

11) Valley of the Dolls (1967) — Oh my God, I love this movie so much!  Three aspiring actresses move to the big city and soon become hooked on pills and bad relationship decisions. Every time I watch this movie, I spend hours yelling, “I’m Neely O’Hara, bitch!” at the top of my lungs.

12) Zombie Lake (1981) — From my favorite French director, Jean Rollin, comes this extremely low budget film about a bunch of Nazi zombies who keep coming out of the lake and attacking the nearby village.  Some people claim that this is the worst zombie films ever made.  I disagree.

Please vote below for as many or as few of these films as you want to.  The poll will remain open until March 20th and whichever film gets the most votes will be watched and reviewed by me.

Happy voting!