The crazy world of Jess Franco. Really there's nothing like it. His movies are filled with beautiful women, weird dialogue and lots of smooth jazz. I wandered into the world of Franco back in the '90's. First place I remember hearing about him was in Fangoria magazine. But I hadn't seen any of his movies. Back then I'd get together with some of my friends and we'd rent a bunch of crazy ass films on VHS. On one of these movie nights I rented Oasis of The Zombies. That was a mistake. We hated it. The tape was grainy, the zombies kind of sucked and not much happens in the movie. This was the first time I saw one of his films. I'm surprised it wasn't the last. Jump ahead to the early 2000's.
Thanks to the magic of DVD I was getting to experience movies I'd been only able to read about. Mondo Macabro released Franco's Diabolical Doctor 'Z'. On a whim I picked it up. I loved the film's crazy mad science and great visuals. Ever since then the amount of Jess Franco films in my collection has been growing. I'd been hoping to do a marathon of his movies when the time was right. This year my collection finally got to the point where I felt I had a nice selection. What follows is my three day descent into a mad free form Jess Franco jazz nightmare.
1) Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969)
We get some kooky Klaus Kinski interludes as Marquis de Sade himself. Romina Power's acting is stiff as a board but she's nice on the eyes. Her big hat isn't though. Justine bounces around from one sleazy character to the next. Almost all of them trying to tempt her to the darkside. There's one hunky dude she meets that seems okay. When Jack Palance shows up this movie goes into crazy overdrive. Film meanders quite a bit. There's a few slow spots in Justine's journy. It's really great looking. And there's plenty of over the top characters to keep your interest from totally waning.
2) The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962)
Things start a little slow but then Morpho shows up and all is right with the world. Well, except for the Inspector character. He just sucks! Worlds worst detective. Just open your girlfriend's damn note already and solve the case man! This is Franco doing classic monster movies. I like it. Seen this film several times. I grow to enjoy it more each time. If your smart and not me this should be your gateway film into Franco land.
3) Golden Temple Amazons (1986)
From the directors Alain Payet and an uncredited Jess Franco comes a film full of bewbies. Lots and lots of bewbies. There's also some real manly dude with a beard. Did I mention bewbies? The film is set in Africa but all the Amazons are all tall blonde women. Go figure. Somebody went crazy with the nature footage here. Also bewbies.
4) Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (1983)
I don't know why they spelled it like that. Another Franco co-directed jungle pic. Hilariously atrocious dubbing in this sucker. The same manly beard guy is in this one too. You sir are great. There's some diamond plot but really who cares? It's all about how godawful this film is. Too bad there's some stock footage animal killing thrown in. Not cool.
5) Bloody Moon (1981)
Bloody Moon, where have you been? How come we didn't meet sooner? This film is so '80's and I love it. Oh that funky score is amazing! The old woman in this film is one bitter bitch. Shut up old lady. This is one hot language school. Full of '80's babes. Everybody's pants are high and everything is bedazzled. The character of Paco is so over the top and wrong. You have to see him eating or driving. It's amazing to behold. There's sadly some snake violence on display here. The kills are fairly bloody. Also there's full moon breast baring.
6) Jack the Ripper (1976)
The amazing Klaus Kinski ladies and germs! He's back to kick off day two! This is Dr. Orloff sans Morpho. Could have used him here. Oh puss close ups are never cool. Lina Romay singing is hilarious. It's a highlight of the film which is otherwise kind of depressing. This was my second ever Jess Franco film. I remember renting it on VHS expecting a slasher. So there's some nostalgia here for me.It's historically inaccurate as far as Jack the Ripper films go. So don't expect facts Jack.
7) Ilsa, the Wicked Warden (1977)
This movie needs to come with a built in shower. The sleaze oozes from the screen. It's nicely filmed sleaze though. The story concerns a missing woman and her not to bright sister. The sister gets herself intentionally sent to to a jungle prison in search of her missing sibling. You have to admire Lina Romay. She didn't mind getting naked.
8) Eugenie (1970)
This movie is tripping balls. Bruno Nicolai's score is excellent. Did anybody tell Chris Lee what was going on? Or did he just wander onto the set? God bless Jess Franco for letting Paul Muller make out with hot chicks. The evil brother dude is really giving that rocking chair a workout. Calm it down man. Man that ending is a real twisty kick in the teeth. It's very Game of Thrones with all the double crossing and murder. Really enjoyed the heck out of this one.
9) Kiss Me Monster (1969)
This here is one of my favorite Franco flicks. It's just pure campy, crazy fun. A real groovy Eurospy spoof. Leads Janine Reynaud & Rosanna Yanni appear to be having a blast. Sexy spies versus mad scientists with plenty of jazz thrown in. What's not to love here?
10) Oasis of the Zombies (1982)
Didn't get any better. There's long stretches of nothing going on. Perfect to doze off to. The best part of the film besides the zombie attacks is the flashback scene. Where we're treated to a really goofy battle between British and German during WWII. So how did the zombies from WWII get those mod '80's haircuts?
11) A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)
If I had to pick a favorite Franco film, Virgin would be in the running. It's a beautiful haunting nightmare of a movie. There's another great Bruno Nicolai in this one. That Christina von Blanc is stunning. And it's great to see the always reliable Howard Vernon. There's Paul Muller again. But he doesn't score any hot chick make out scenes in this one. The Queen of the Night is creepy as hell. That ending. Is it a dream? Some sort of weird time loop? Or are they in hell? What ever the case it's amazing.
12) Venus in Furs (1969)
It all starts in Istanbul not Constantinople. Franco's noir masterpiece. This is another one that I pick for my favorite Franco film. Every shot is amazing. The beatnik dialogue can be kind of goofy at times. But it adds to the film's charm for me. Good old Klaus makes another appearance in the marathon. The film is surreal as hell. You'd think maybe it would meander. But it never does. It moves along at a steady pace. If there was one Franco film you should watch, it's this one.
So there you go. What a weird movie marathon. There where some bombs in there. I was honestly a little scared how this one would turn out. But it was a lot of fun. There was a dream like quality to the whole thing that made going back to the real world kind of sad. There's so many Franco films I have yet to see. I'd love to do another one some day.