Friday, September 9, 2011
Franco Friday #33: Succubus
Franco Friday #33
Roughly seven and a half months ago, I entered the wild world of Jess Franco. And now I am ready to leave, at least for a little while. When this started to feel less like an endurance challenge and more like plain old torture, I had to stop. Unfortunately, I'm not ending on a better note. A sour note? Not exactly. Let's turn up the volume so that even the imperfections become melodies.
AKA Necronomicon - Getraumte Sunden
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Janine Reynaud, Jack Taylor, Adrian Hoven, Howard Vernon, Nathalie Nort
Lorna Green* (played by Janine Reynaud) is an S&M dominatrix in a nightclub owned by her boyfriend William (Jack Taylor). When she's not whipping the crap out of people, she's out partying, dropping acid, and getting all sexually frustrated and stuff because William is usually too drunk to fuck (like the Dead Kennedys song). Next thing ya know, Lorna descends into a dream world where all kinds of freaky shit happens. Everything goes all soft focus and she goes to a castle. She also stabs a guy (Howard Vernon) in the eye with a needle and kills some people. Oh, and her collection of mannequins come to life. Are these only fantasies? Or is this mysterious stranger (Michel Lemoine) have some devious plan for Lorna?
Mr. Jess Franco drops us into his dreamworld of soft focus sexual perversion and fantasies bathed in diffused light. This film is bizarre, silly, practically plotless, and mannequins do come to life but this film is crippled by it's artsy-fartsiness. Awkward stripteases, murder, J&B sightings, and LSD trips abound but I am still bored. I need to stop making these friggin' list sentences. Sorry.
One thing I am thankful for is Franco introducing me to Janine Reynaud. Before this film and Kiss Me Monster, I just thought that Miss Reynaud was just that weird looking lady from The Case of the Scorpion's Tail. Now I know she's that weird looking lady from all kinds of movies! But seriously, Reynaud is always a welcome sight to behold and her performances just warm my dang heart. Other great faces in this movie are Howard Vernon (who looks awfully comfortable in that bar that employs hot and naked dudes), Oregon's own Jack Taylor (who is becoming one of my faves), Adrian Hoven (and his rakish good looks), and actor/director Michel Lemoine (who is totally creepy).
So where does this film go wrong? The writing! I have sat through Franco's unique brand of improvised saxophone solo type of filmmaking many times before but rarely has pretentious dialog turned it into an almost unbearably embarrassing experience for me. From the blatantly obvious themes hammered into the viewer's brain to a super snooty word association/name-dropping game (that just about made me vomit), this film has its head way, way up its ass. That being said, all of this pretentious shit is very funny so if Franco meant it as a joke... GOOD!
Here's an obnoxious yet hilarious clip (NSFW):
I do enjoy the visual aspects and the score of Succubus. Because of those aspects, this is a lovely and enjoyable cinematic poem. In his introduction to Obsession: The Films of Jess Franco, Tim Lucas refers to this film as the beginning of Franco's peak years and the first film where he was given complete freedom. So I'm not surprised this would be both great and slightly full of shit. Succubus is incredibly dated and a bit of chore to sit through but fans of Jess Franco will dig it. It's like John Coltrane. You know you're supposed to dig Giant Steps for what it is but you've already moved on to A Love Supreme. There! I'm like Franco now.
"Will you always stay?"
"I will stay until the end."
*I still think this is a veiled reference to Lorne Greene.
But this IS my modest robe!
Soft focus really isn't my thing.
We know you're voice is dubbed, Howard. Stop trying to embarrass us.
What is this on the wall, Franco? ANOTHER VAGINA?
Two words: vegan caterer.
I don't care how you spell it, that shit is overrated!
Let me carve you a chin like mine.