The Sleazy World of Jess Franco
Body Count: Volume 13
I bought a copy of Female Vampire one day in comic shop by accident. Having bought a tape I believed to be a collection of Clive Barker short films, it turned out, instead to be this piece of shit. I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth, though. This tape, at the time very hard to track down, netted me a lot of good bootlegs in trade. The plot is a series of loose scenarios where Franco regular, the beautiful Lena Romay, wanders around wearing a belt and a cape and not much else. She’s some kind of vampire and goes from person to person, giving them head and extracting their life energies that way. That’s about it. Oh yeah, and she’s mute. And Franco stars as the Van Helsing foil who does nothing but watch Romay take a bath. The end. Female Vampire goes by many names, in many different cuts, some including hardcore porn inserts. The real nature of this movie is a soft-core porno and Romay is quite attractive and totally nude throughout a giant portion of the movie, but there’s not much else going on here.
Franco wouldn’t be a contender for the crown of exploitation king if he didn’t hop on the cannibal bandwagon. Just about everyone, by this point, was doing everything they could to capture some of Eaten Alive’s marketshare in shock circles but, remarkably, Franco spun a tale that was at least somewhat original. Even if it all feels like a fever dream, there’s not much else like it. Some kidnappers kidnap a big movie star and hide her in a jungle fortress while some hired commandos come after her. There’s some kind of super-cannibal monster roaming the jungle, though. There are some pretty crappy cannibal flicks out there. Flicks that feature stone-age bushmen in the frames wearing digital watches and shit, but there’s nothing quite like Devil Hunter. Devil Hunter features tons of sustained nudity. During long scenes of dialog, Franco’s camera drifts around, zooming in on boobs, ass and bush randomly. A cannibal monster stalks the jungle with giant bug eyes that seem to be fixed to its face with Play Doh. Every woman in this movie does little more than scream at the top of her lungs while pumping her huge 70’s Euro-boosh into the air. There’s little context and just about everyone in the movie looks like they accidentally wandered in from another set. They’re not sure what to do because the cameras are rolling, so they take a good look at the cast and sets and… improvise!
Franco has a bad habit of remaking his own movies several times over. Easily the most revisited concept is the Dr. Orloff story. No matter how you spin it, it’s just about the same old tale time and time again. A doctor obsessed with restoring the life/body/face of his wife/mother/daughter. Originally, The Awful Dr. Orloff isn’t bad. It’s a moody mad scientist horror movie that managed to set the pace for Jess Franco, he even managed to remake it with success in the form of 1988’s Faceless. But for every door opened by The Awful Dr. Orloff, it was shut by crap like The Sinful Dr. Orloff, a series of cheap excuses to splatter some jiggly Spanish boobs with Franco’s signature spaghetti sauce stage blood.
Sadomania may, in fact, be Franco’s coup de grace. It’s unclear what kind of movie he’s trying to make here as it starts out like a cross between any given Ilsa movie and the Hills Have Eyes and then takes off in all directions, finding ways to put its perpetually nude cast in progressively more kinky situations. The female half of a pair of newlyweds winds up in a kinky BDSM harem when the pair run afoul of a local woman who runs a sort of “love camp” the sorts of which you find in Nazisploitation movies. That’s about it. Franco appears as a horrific gay stereotype and a lot of topless women have some of the most unarousing kinky sex imaginable until Franco pushes the whole thing over the edge as a man with severe sexual dysfunction bangs his wife while watching another woman being raped by a dog. Seriously. Would I lie to you?