4 Shots From 4 Films: Child’s Play, Faceless, The Lair of the White Worm, Night of the Demons


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 1988 Horror Films

Child’s Play (1988, dir by Tom Holland)

Faceless (1988, dir by Jess Franco)

The Lair Of The White Worm (1988, dir by Ken Russell)

Night of the Demons (1988, dir by Kevin Tenney)

International Horror Review: A Virgin Among The Living Dead (dir by Jess Franco)


This 1973 Spanish-French-Italian production’s title is both its greatest strength and also its greatest weakness.

On the one hand, it’s impossible to forget a title like A Virgin Among the Living Dead.  It’s a title that mixes both horror and sex, which are two things of which audiences simply cannot get enough.  On the other hand, this is a a Jess Franco film and the title — which is so blatant and over-the-top — sounds like it could almost be a parody of Franco’s “unique” style of film-making.  If you were coming up with a fake Franco film, you would probably give it a title that sounded a lot like “A Virgin Among the Living Dead.”  A Virgin In The Castle of Dr. Orloff, perhaps.

Interestingly enough, Franco absolutely hated the film’s title.  It, and quite a few other titles, were slapped onto the film by distributors who were apparently unconcerned with the fact that the film was not meant to be one of Franco’s typical, give-me-my-paycheck exploitation films.  Franco’s title for the film was Night of the Shooting Stars, which is a bit bland but perhaps also a bit more honest.  Incidentally, the film was also released under the titles Christina, Princess of Eroticism and The Erotic Dreams of Christina, which again were titles that Franco disliked.

In the version I saw (and, admittedly, there’s several versions floating around), it’s never even stated that the film’s frequently unclothed protagonist, Christina (Christina von Blanc), is a virgin.  When compared to the other decadent members of her family, she certainly is innocent.  For instance, she doesn’t drink blood or engage in strange purification rituals.  When the cheerfully cynical Uncle Howard (Howard Vernon, because this is a Franco film, after all) plays a waltz while another member of the family is dying upstairs, Christina is properly shocked.  But, at no point, is Christina identified as being a virgin.

In fact, Christina is rather uninhibited, nonchalantly greeting strangers (and a rather creepy servant, played by Franco himself) in her underwear, sleeping naked in a room with an unlocked door, and later casually skinny dipping in a nearby swamp.  (When she’s informed that two wide-eyed townspeople were watching her from a nearby hill, she shrugs it off.)  Perhaps she’s meant to be an Eve-like character, unaware of sex or her nudity until she eats from the tree of knowledge.  Am I giving too much credit to Jess Franco?  As is often the case with Franco, it’s hard to say.

As far as the film itself goes …. well, the plot isn’t always easy to follow.  Christina has come to her family’s ancestral home for the reading of her dead father’s will.  Her father hanged himself and, though he’s dead, he keeps showing up.  Christina immediately discovers that the other members of her family are collection of rogues, eccentrics, and blood drinkers.  She also eventually learns that all the members of her family are the living dead and that they’re all worried that Christina will make them leave the estate.  Or are they?  Is Christina just dreaming all of this or is it really happening?  Is the Queen of Night really coming to claim everyone’s soul or is that just a part of Christina’s hallucinations?

A Virgin Among The Living Dead features all of Franco’s usual directorial quirks.  The story rambles.  Franco alternates between scenes of surreal beauty and scenes of almost indifferent framing.  At times, the score is hauntingly ominous and then, at other times, it sounds like it was lifted from a 70s porno.  Christina comes across as being a beautiful blank but Howard Vernon is memorably perverse as Uncle Howard and all the members of the family are amusingly decadent.  For once, though, all these quirks work to the film’s advantage, creating a surreal dreamscape that truly does seem to exist in a land between life and death.  A Virgin Among The Living Dead truly does become a work of pure cinema, one in which the the visuals and the mood become the narrative as opposed to the film’s story itself.

Franco may have hated the title that was slapped on it but this is actually one of his better films.  Unfortunately, how you react to the film will probably depend on which version you see.  There are several floating around, some of which feature hardcore inserts that were filmed by other directors.  There’s another version that features extra zombie footage that was filmed by Jean Rollin.  The Redemption Blu-ray features Franco’s cut of the film, with no hardcore or extra zombie footage.  That said, the scenes that Rollin shot are included as an extra.  Personally, I like Rollin’s zombie footage but, at the same time, I can also see how its inclusion would have destroyed the film’s already deliberate pace.

(And, of course, it goes without saying that I’m opposed to producers inserting extra scenes into any film, especially when that footage wasn’t directed by the original director.)

Anyway, A Virgin Among The Living Dead never reaches the existential heights of Female Vampire but it’s still one of Franco’s “good” films.  Even if he did hate the title….

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: RIP Maria Rohm


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. It was reported today that Austrian actress Maria Rohm, best known for her work with Exploitation masters Harry Alan Towers and Jess Franco, passed away at age 72. In her honor, here are 4 shots from the films of Maria Rohm:

House of 1,000 Dolls (1967, D: Jeremy Summers)

99 Women (1969, D: Jess Franco)

Venus in Furs (1969, D: Jess Franco)

Count Dracula (1970, D: Jess Franco)

6 Eurohorror Trailers For October 22nd


Hi there and welcome to this week’s special October edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation film trailers!

My latest edition is dedicated to Eurohorror!  Some of these trailers are not going to be safe for work.  Of course, you probably shouldn’t be watching trailers at work in the first place.  But, in case you are, don’t let your boss catch you.  If you do get caught and lose your job, feel free to leave a comment under this post and let us know about your experience.  We love to hear that we’re changing lives.

  1. The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962)

The Awful Dr. Orloff was directed by Jess Franco and is considered to be the first Spanish horror film.  It was also an international success that helped to launch Franco’s amazingly prolific career.

2. The Girl Who Knew Too Much (a.k.a. Evil Eye) (1963)

This film, from director Mario Bava, is considered to be the first true giallo film.  When it was released in the United States, it was retitled Evil Eye.

3. The Shiver of the Vampires (1971)

From French director Jean Rollin comes this story of vampires hiding in grandfather clocks.  (Actually, there’s more to it than just that.  But that’s the scene that everyone seems to remember.)

4. Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

Arguably, this was the first Spanish zombie film.

5. The Grapes of Death (1978)

Again from director Jean Rollin, this is the first French zombie movie.

6. The Living Dead Girl (1981)

Finally, one last trailer from Jean Rollin.  You might not be able to guess it from the trailer but The Living Dead Girl is actually one of the most poignant films ever made.

 

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)