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6 Sexy, Sleazy and Stupid Jess Franco Films

Barbed Wire Dolls (1975) — Probably Franco’s best women-in-prison film, which features all the genre clichés: rampant lesbianism, the butch warden, the pivotal male prison doctor, the inmate who’s already cracked, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Franco is one of those directors who uses nudity as a wardrobe choice. No point in going into the plot; […]

The Last Horror Film (1982)

Love it or loathe it, The Last Horror Film earns a smidgen of admiration for reportedly shooting “guerrilla style” at the Cannes Film Festival. How much of it qualifies as surreptitious is up for debate. What there is no question about is how unappealing Maniac’s Joe Spinell is in the lead role — kinda the […]

Reading Material: Short Ends 2/26/17 — Another Accidental All-McFarland Edition

Does the world need more than one book on the movies of Mamie Van Doren? Hell, no. But I sure do! With Joseph Fusco’s 2010 book already sitting on my shelf, now there’s Atomic Blonde: The Films of Mamie Van Doren to keep it company. First published in 2008, Barry Lowe’s book now is back […]

The Silence of the Tomb (1972)

No tombs exist in Jess Franco’s The Silence of the Tomb, but that omission is all fine and dandy, considering the cult-fave filmmaker does include something he often neglects: a plot. Bonus: It’s a lucid one at that! A supposedly fabulous (and definitely fatuous) actress, Annette (Glenda Allen, Franco’s Dolls for Sale) invites all her […]

Five Golden Dragons (1967)

For one of his myriad adaptations of Edgar Wallace works, brand-name producer Harry Alan Towers takes us to Hong Kong to meet Five Golden Dragons. Our inadvertent tour guide is Bob Cummings (Beach Party) as American bachelor Bob Mitchell, whose sole purpose for hanging at the Hilton seems to be to charm the bikinis off […]

Nature Girl and the Slaver (1957)

A sequel to Liane, Jungle Goddess from one year earlier, Nature Girl and the Slaver presents — with a generous use of seashells — the continuing adventures of its cut-rate female Tarzan. Played by Marion Michael, the white-skinned, blonde-haired Liane — or Diane, as the English dub of this German/Italian co-production calls her — lives […]

The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1972)

Soon after the opening title screen of Jess Franco’s The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein (Dennis Price, Vampyros Lesbos) has just gifted his monster (Fernando Bilbao, Mr. Hercules Against Karate) with the ability to speak. This is neither here nor there, because the hulking creature rarely talks in the film, and why should he […]

Nazithon: Decadence and Destruction (2013)

Following close on the stiletto heels of 2013’s Blood of 1000 Virgins, GrindhouseFlix’s first original feature, the jackbooted Nazithon: Decadence and Destruction emerges as the second. It, too, is a trailer collection brimming with no-frills fun and it, too, is directed by company head Charles Band, if hitting the “REC” button for host segments can […]

Nude for Satan (1974)

Right away, as in mere seconds, the genius-titled Nude for Satan delivers on the “nude,” with a woman fleeing something at night. We’re not made to wait too long for the “Satan” part of the equation, either, assuming Ol’ Scratch is that guy who won’t cut out the cackling and has the blacked-out tooth — […]

Reading Material: 5 New Film Books Vying for Your Thanks

Oh hai! Ryan Finnigan’s The Room: The Definitive Guide tears me apart as I try to determine just whom it is for: virgins or sluts? On one hand, much of the Applause trade paperback is geared toward the newbie; on the other, the train wreck of a drama it celebrates is one of those flicks […]

Reading Material: The Most Dangerous Cinema: People Hunting People on Film

That Richard Connell’s 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game” has spawned so many adaptations and knock-offs is hardly surprising; the premise is simple and easy to, um, execute. What is more notable is how a wide a berth those resulting films cast, in terms of genres. Straight-ahead action/adventure takes aside, they include sexploitation, science […]

Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005)

As someone who is against censorship in any and all forms, I found the two-part documentary Ban the Sadist Videos! both fascinating and infuriating. Written and directed by David Gregory (Plague Town) for the venerable cult-DVD label Blue Underground, the piece examines the “video nasty” scandal of the early-’80s United Kingdom. At a time when […]

Faceless (1987)

With Faceless, director Jess Franco updated — unofficially, of course — 1960’s Eyes Without a Face, George Franju’s groundbreaking French classic about a mad surgeon who’ll do anything to give his facially wrecked daughter a new visage, even murder. The main changes in Franco’s work is that he made the victim the doc’s sister, and he […]

Bloody Moon (1981)

More lucid than Jess Franco’s usual directorial output (but not much), Bloody Moon sets its slasher sights on a language school in Spain. Sporting a sign with those peel-and-stick letters from your local Ace Hardware, the new institution has 40 female students and nearly as many red herrings. One of its employees, Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff), […]

Venus in Furs (1969)

To mention the word “masterpiece” in the same breath as “Jess Franco” is like pairing “Chef Boyardee” and “gourmet.” Yet 1969’s Venus in Furs is often cited as the über-prolific director’s finest hour (and a half) — one awash in atmosphere, not acumen. What happens to a beautiful woman after she’s murdered at a swank […]