Tonight, to my wonderment, I stumbled across what seems to be an otherwise forgotten Jess Franco screen credit. After watching an old VHS tape tonight, I discovered that the remainder of the tape contained the first 45-50 minutes or so of Marcel Ophuls' HAGAN JUEGO, SENORAS (1965; US: FIRE AT WILL), an Eddie Constantine thriller produced by Henri Baum, who also produced THE DIABOLICAL DR Z around this time. Jesús Franco is given an entire screen credit all to himself for writing the story and Spanish dialogues.
I remember Franco
saying in an interview that he had been responsible for dubbing a number
of Eddie Constantine films into Spanish in the 1950s, but this came much later, and it has generally been assumed that Franco stopped accepting work-for-hire jobs like this by this point in his directorial career. I don't
recall seeing this film appear in any of his filmographies, not in
books and certainly not on the IMDb. Now I wish I had the full feature! In fact, I do
have the French version of this film in its entirety, but of course its
credits make no mention of Franco. It would seem accurate, though, to credit him with writing the story (generally credited to Jacques Robert), as it's supposed to feature an all-girl gang led by a gypsy named Soledad! Franco had previously cast Soledad Miranda in her film debut LA REINA DEL TABARIN (1960) and, by this time, he may have taken notice that she was starting to play more prominent roles in films.
Friday, February 08, 2013
Posted by Tim Lucas at 8:15 PM
Thursday, February 07, 2013
FEMALE VAMPIRE, aka THE LOVES OF IRINA aka EROTIKILL, is basically the story of four lonely sexual encounters ending in death; it depicts the grief of solitude in the lives of three of its victims before dispatching them, and we are given glimpses in the aftermath assuring us these lost souls are no longer alone. There's very little script, so it unfolds remarkably slowly for a film whose cult only came about in the age of the short attention span. "Elegiac pacing," they call it.
But what is very obvious to me about the film now, seeing it again and knowing when in their story it was filmed chronologically, is that it's the marriage contract between Jess and Lina. This was Lina's first starring role. She knew that Jess was mourning Soledad Miranda, who had portrayed a premonition of this character in VAMPYROS LESBOS, made the same year (1970) she died in an automobile accident at the age of 27. And she literally gives him Soledad and more. She is not only declaring her love but demonstrating it, serving up all she has to give to his eye and camera. And he worships her in return, which is all she asks in order to give him everything. Which is, in effect, a vision of the remainder of his career. The film begins with them meeting, when he is only a camera; she steps out of the misty woods and he gives her a good look up and down, like one forest creature meeting another. She butts him away so the story can be told, and it only ends when the two characters they play, his (a forensic surgeon) searching for hers ("the mouth that kills") for most of the running time, finally meet on the same plane, in the the same room.
And Jess lives.
FEMALE VAMPIRE is also available on Blu-ray and DVD from Redemption Video.
Posted by Tim Lucas at 5:41 AM
Thursday, January 31, 2013
I found HITCHCOCK kind of fascinating. Never mind the Ed Gein interweavings, which are preposterous, and the extramarital teasings, which at the very least are chronologically misplaced. Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren seem miscast, but they are better actors than their counterparts in THE GIRL and they succeed completely in inhabiting and telling the story of their script, with depth and nuance and power; in the process, they take this tissue of fact-based fabrications and say something true and honest about Hitch and Alma -- not true to the moment of their lives, perhaps, but to its sum. I thought Scarlett Johansson was perfection as Janet Leigh (requiring much more subtlety than I knew she had), and James D'Arcy also a believable Anthony Perkins. The scene of Hitch listening to the first audience's reaction to the shower murder made me wince with emotion.
Posted by Tim Lucas at 2:36 AM
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The HBO Hitchcock movie THE GIRL (2012) held my interest, not least of all because its casting seems in better focus than the major studio HITCHCOCK, but it's still thin broth. And puzzling: there is so much there that I've never read about in Hitchcock bios, and so much in the bios that wasn't dramatized, I was left questioning scenes as much for what they had to offer as for why such outright invention was considered necessary. When the MARNIE honeymoon rape scene was depicted to suggest that Tippi Hedren actually stood nude on set in front of Hitchcock, and that he included the scene specifically to arrange this, I finally knew enough to call "Fowl' (no pun intended, really). The BIRDS attack scene was nicely restaged, but the opportunity to say something useful about these people, or even about sexual harrassment, was spoiled by the decision to eliminate any glimpses of Hitchcock's humor and make the whole thing a one-sided, one-note tissue of suffering.
Posted by Tim Lucas at 5:28 AM
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
While going through a portfolio of some old artwork recently, Donna found this drawing that I did back in 1990. It was done at the dawn of VIDEO WATCHDOG time, at the tail end of the same time I drew several pieces for our very first issue, for the simple reason that we weren't able to illustrate everything. This piece was going to accompany my review of Greg Mank's book on Karloff and Lugosi, and depicts them in their respective roles as Hjalmar Poelzig in THE BLACK CAT (1934) and Ygor in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939), because I intended to note in my review the coincidence of their success during the 1930s with the foreignness of their respective personas. I remembered this piece as almost photo-realistic in its perfection, but now, more than twenty years later, it looks a good deal less accomplished and I'm glad it didn't see the light of print.
That said, I'm happy to share it with WATCHDOG readers here, now, as a page you didn't see.
Posted by Tim Lucas at 5:45 PM