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
79 minutes

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.


  1. Let me be the first to welcome you to the asylum! When you began this Herculean task you were a bright eyed kid. Now you are always trying to avoid Lina Romay's nether regions, stilted dialogue, soft focus, and zooms. Great work you have done here sir. You deserve a rest. - Brad

  2. It's been a great ride, that's for sure!

    Succubus is one of my favorites. I'm not into all this weird bizarro kinky stuff, mannequins freak me out, and I can't stand pretentious blabber, which all makes it the more puzzling why I dig Franco and this film.

    Hats off to you for all the enjoyable Franco Fridays!


  3. You've inspired me, Richard. Now I'm going to embark on my own odyssey into the strange and perverted mind of a filmmaker! Trouble is, I can't top Franco without going Russ Meyer, and I'm afraid doing a Meyer Month would make me hate large breasts.

  4. Inspirational indeed, Richard. Your Eurocult cred is beyond question, but your Franco Friday endurance experiment really was above and beyond the call of duty. Many thanks for your incredible patience, articulate reflections and willingness to court insanity in undertaking your journey! It's been a truly entertaining ride!

    I agree with you about Reynaud. She looks quite lovely in 'Succubus', but decidedly haggard by the time of 'Case of the Scorpion's Tail', and that's in the space of - what? 3 years? Perhaps Eurocult cinema ladies lived as hard as some of their onscreen characters? One wonders...

  5. I did a lot of Franco/Meyer (in that order!) double features back when I got the Meyer DVD box set and I must say it worked quite well! AND neither Franco nor Meyer managed to make me hate certain female parts...[insert friendly, yet slightly creepy giggling here].

  6. @Brad - Look into a reflective surface. The image you see is a rad duder.

    @MLP - Thanks! And you're welcome. Mental note: MLP does not hate lady parts!

    @Ron - As far as far pervy filmmakers go, you could do a lot worse than Russ Meyer.

    @Davo - That is the first time anyone has said I have cred of any kind. Thanks! I think the hardest part was staying articulate. I think Lorna the Exorcist was the closest I came to throwing my feces at the blog and hitting Publish Post. The thing I just noticed about Reynaud is that her film career (according to IMDB) didn't even start until she was 35. So she was lookin' good well into her 40s. But those lines were running pretty deep by Case of the Scorpion's Tail.

  7. Done already? Congrats! I don't think I would have made it this far. Your reviews have been great as always, and there are actually a couple of Franco joints that I want to check out BECAUSE of your reviews (NIGHT OF THE SKULL in particular). Good stuff.

    P.S. Is your banner from MURDER MANSION?

  8. @Aaron - Much appreciated, my good man. And you got it, the banner is from Murder Mansion.