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It Took Forever, But Was Worth The Wait...
on March 19, 2011
Mondo Macabro unleashes yet another rare entry in the pantheon of perversity from the demented mind and elder statesman of Eurosleaze extraordinaire, Jess Franco, and the results are noteworthy to all Francophiles and Eurotrash enthusiasts alike. For the first time on dvd, we're treated to a 'lost' gem from the early 70's, probably Jess's most prolific period of filmmaking, and certainly ranking high among those films worth watching.
A French film from 1973, with only a few folks seeing it upon its initial release, the original print was lost or destroyed. It was later recut into a porno flick back in the early 80's by its producer, and most of the cut scenes were never recovered. This restoration utilizes three different 35mm sources and four different audio sources and, seeing as how it's been cobbled and sewn together much like Frankenstein's monster, the finished film quality is quite remarkable all around. It must have truly been a labor of love by Mondo Pete and Co., and a round of applause is well-deserved. Granted, there are an inordinate amount of jumpy edits and disjointed scenes, but this is a quality inherent in all Franco flicks, some more than others, but this time we can give him the benefit of the doubt and blame someone or something else... personally, I was impressed with the results.
Being a noted jazz aficionado, the directorial credits again go to Clifford Brown, the legendary trumpet player who frequently worked with drum wizard Max Roach, though we all know Jess helmed the camera, wrote the script (probably on his palm), edited and appears as the doctor in a mental ward, among other chores in this film. The widescreen ratio seems correct, and its languages are English audio or French with English subtitles. I viewed it in French w/ English subs, and aside from some occasional hiss, the sound was near perfect for a film of its age and history.
The title's a bit misleading, as there's no exorcist or exorcism anywhere to be found (see 'Exorcism' from 1974 on the Synapse label for Franco's take on that genre), this one's another Faustian pact tale or a perverse retelling of 'The Devil and Daniel Webster'. Patrick, a down-on-his-luck businessman, had an affair with a woman, Lorna, who was also a Succubus eighteen years ago, who enabled him to gain wealth, a happy family and prosperity. As it turns out, she reappears now to collect a debt in the form of his daughter, Linda (Franco's muse, Lina Romay), on her eighteenth birthday, while the family's vacationing at a casino resort. When Patrick unequivocally states that he will not relinquish his daughter to her, Lorna infects his wife (Jacqueline Laurent, who also appears in 'Sinner', another great, recent Mondo release) with the worst case of crabs you could ever imagine. It would be heresy to divulge more about that one. Patrick has to stop Lorna before she destroys his family and himself, and time has just about run out.
Now, on to the good stuff - the sleaze quotient's been cranked up to a Spinal Tap '11' everywhere - Lina Romay looks about as attractive as I've ever seen her (this was made around the time of 'Female Vampire'), and if you were her gynecologist you couldn't see more of her, Jacqueline Laurent is a fine specimen of middle-aged splendor (before the term MILF was coined) and looks fabulous writhing around a bed nude, and Pamela Stanford would be fine if she didn't have some bizarre transvestite eye-makeup on to make her look 'occult-like', but her form is not easily forgotten. Franco friend and regular Howard Vernon makes his usual cameo (doesn't this guy own a mirror or a comb?) that is easily forgotten seeing as he doesn't speak a word. Back to the naughty bits - there's gratuitously abundant full-frontal female flesh on parade, plenty of clam-shucking and box lunches to be had, more bush than the African Serengeti, and the afore-mentioned vaginal 'Attack of the Crab Monsters'. (Roger Corman would be proud).
As usual, we can always count on MM to heap loads of extras our way - this time out there's an 'About the Film' featurette, a cast and crew bio, 'Fear and Desire' on Franco, writer Stephen Thrower comments on 'Lorna', deleted and extended scenes, an interview with Gerard Kikoine on working with Franco (but it's the same one that's used on 'Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac') and the extended 'More from Mondo Macabro' trailers that never get old. Kudos to these folks for delivering the goods to an eagerly-waiting audience yet again.
This is another example of what Jess does best - feverish, erotic delirium that's barely coherent but hauntingly mesmerizing to the Nth degree. God Bless him.