Monday, December 23, 2013


I don't get out much. Does that surprise you? Last Saturday, I went to see Terrorizer, Exhumed, and Druid Lord (pictured here). It was a fucking great show. I first discovered Druid Lord last year when they played with Possessed here in Tampa. They are my favorite metal band and I even interviewed them for Fang of Joy because of their lyrics are inspired by European horror films. They tore the lid off the place on Saturday but their set was cut short to make time for other bands (which was bullshit IMO).

At the show, I simply could not resist getting Druid Lord's tribute to Mario Bava's classic, Baron Blood.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Franco Friday #52 - Countess Perverse

When I encounter a title like this, I am filled with self doubt. All the interviewees in the extras on this DVD are telling me what a genius Jess Franco is and how important a film like Countess Perverse is and yada yada yada. All this film makes me want to do is crawl under my couch and die. Why? Read on.

Countess Perverse
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Alice Arno, Howard Vernon, Kali Hansa, Lina Romay, Tania Busselier, Robert Woods
78 minutes
DVD Studio: Mondo Macabro

Count Rabor Zaroff (played by Howard Vernon) and Countess Ivanna Zaroff (Alice Arno) are two eccentric psychos who live on an island in the middle of nowhere. Ivanna likes to hunt but her prey is people. Rabor enjoys cooking but his main ingredient is people. The two employ a couple, Bob (Robert Woods) and Moira (Tania Busselier), to help keep them well stocked with sexy lady victims. Things go awry when Bob falls for Sylvia (Lina Romay), their most lovely and innocent prey so far.

This film is beautiful thanks in no small part to cinematographer Gérard Brisseau who knows how to take minimal sets and grandiose architecture and make them flow together seamlessly. He also knows how to capture the simplicity of nature and bring out its inherit dread. The whole wide world never felt so claustrophobic. It really surprised me to find out that Brisseau and Jean Rollin never worked together.

I am digging on this cast like there's no tomorrow. Alice Arno and Howard Vernon just nail it as the two most evil freaks in the universe. They are a dark joy to watch on screen while they toy with their prey. Arno is so damn sexy in this movie that I can barely even stand it. I hope that she hunts me in my dreams. Lina Romay is really good as Sylvia, the innocent. When she walks in on the Count and the Countess preparing a meal, the terror on her face is believable. Her painfully drama school dropout fainting spell is 100 times less believable and it makes me love her performance even more.

I wasn't too hot on Kali Hansa in the first few films I saw her in. But now I'm really digging her. She is striking, Amazon-like, and thanks to Jess Franco, I've seen her vagina. I know I've seen Tania Busselier before but she didn't really stand out until this movie. The real star of the movie is Robert Woods' penis. Or maybe it's Howard Vernon's sack. I don't really want to go back and compare. Please, I beg you, don't make me go back.

Hold on, let me get up on my soapbox here for a couple of paragraphs.

If you've been following along with my little Jess Franco journey here, you probably noticed that I don't make excuses for the guy. When something pisses me off, you'll be the first to know. What really grinds my gears and makes me really turn on a film is a gratuitous rape scene. If it is a prolonged rape scene, one that doesn't serve the plot in any way, or -and this really is the worst of them all- the victim of the violation ends up enjoying the experience then I end up despising said film. Countess Perverse contains the latter kind and it just makes me friggin' disgusted. It is a thoughtless, throwaway moment but it really turned me against this film. Why did Kali Hansa's character submit to her attackers? What fucking purpose did it serve to the film? I am all about irresponsible entertainment but any film that demonstrates to a would be rapist that his/her victim secretly "wants it" makes my blood boil.

Another problem I have with this film (and this is just nitpicking, really) is the misuse of Alice Arno and Lina Romay. Now don't get me wrong, I have seen A LOT of these two actresses along the way and they are both great. What doesn't work in this film is Arno and Romay's sex scene together. It was one of the most awkward in Franco's films that I've seen so far. Chalk it up to the lack of cinematic sexual chemistry between the two actresses, poor direction, or whatever, it's just bad. There's more sexual tension and inherent eroticism when Arno's character is flirting with Romay's before their ruinous lovemaking even starts so I don't blame the actresses. Their sex scene together should have been cut.

These complaints I have make my viewing experience of Countess Perverse even more frustrating and make my review even less trustworthy than my usual schtick. I want you to know that I want to love this film. There are scenes in this film that are some of Franco's best. He takes The Most Dangerous Game and makes it his own. This film is tense, gorgeous, and horrifying with victims that you actually care about and delightfully evil villains that are fascinating to behold. But there's some stupid crap packed in here too. Shackled by his own artistic needs or his producer's insistence or both, Jess Franco mixes bad softcore porn into yet another film that didn't deserve it.

"That's it, I'm off. I want no part in your vile orgies."

DVD Stuff

Mondo Macabro shines once again. Their presentation of Countess Perverse is nothing short of stunning. The colors are bright and the blacks are deep. I saw very minimal print damage in the opening credits and that was about it. The disc is loaded with info about Franco and Countess Perverse. There is a great interview with actor Robert Woods as well as one with film critic and author Stephen Thrower. There's also the Mondo Macabro trailer reel. Dig on that!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Franco Friday #51 - The Corpse Packs His Bags

Franco Friday #51

Well, November sucked ass. I wrote about 10,000 words of my horror novel, recorded a new song with my band, shot a music video, and then I got sick as a dang dog. As if that wasn't bad enough, Thanksgiving happened. Yuck! The one bright spot, which surprised me very much, was getting back to some Jess Franco movies. Hot damn, I am ready to get back on this train. All aboard!

The Corpse Packs His Bags
AKA The Death Avenger of Soho
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Horst Tappert, Fred Williams, Barbara Rütting, Elisa Montés, Luis Morris, Siegfried Schürenberg
76 minutes
Trash Palace

There is a knife-throwing killer on the loose in Soho (that's right, just like the one in that Rancid song). This killer has a peculiar habit of packing a person's belongings into a suitcase shortly before dispatching them. Frankly, it's brilliant! Well, it's pretty cool. Inspector Rupert Redford (played by Fred Williams) of Scotland Yard and his friend Charles Barton (Horst Tappert) are on the case. Are there drugs involved? Hell yeah, there are! Everyone is all wound up about a drug called Mescadrin. Never tried the stuff myself but they say it packs a hell of a wallop.

The first on the list of suspects is Dr. Bladmore (played by Siegfried Schürenberg), a physician who attended to one of the deceased shortly before he ceased. He is prone to giving out doses of a certain painkilling drug to people who ask him to. Is he the pusher, man? Let's hope that his lovely assistant, Helen Bennett (Elisa Montés), isn't mixed up in this dangerous business. All clues seem to be pointing to a mysterious man named Charlie Bennett, Helen's dead husband!

More red herrings- oops, I mean totally probable suspects- infect the plot of this film like something you would only whisper to your local pharmacist to help you get rid of. I'm talking about THE VD! Come on, you prude. This is the 70s, we can talk openly now about such things. Anyway, there's a seriously bad ass chick (played by Barbara Rütting) with a henchman, a blind organ grinder (Andrés Monales) who always seems to just happen to be present at every crime scene, a stripper who doesn't know how to strip (Mara Laso), and a sleazy guy that my wife says looks like a Persian cat with mange.

One of the things that never occurred to me until I was armpits-deep in Franco Lake is that Jess Franco made comedies. Before, I thought of him as totally serious. Or maybe he meant Vampyros Lesbos to be a side-splitting farce. Fucked if I know! The Corpse Packs His Bags is a krimi with a comedy streak so wide you'd have to be a blind organ grinder to miss it. You will laugh, I promise. Or maybe you'll just chuckle. Fine, I promise that you will see the always fucking great cinematographer, Manuel Merino, take this two dollar film and make it look like it was a fourteen hundred dollar film. And the locations don't hurt either. There's nothing like a well-written mystery film to make you appreciate the architecture of the buildings it was shot in. Did I say "well-written"?

I do love how the knife makes a "boing" spring sound when it hits its target in the back and that's funny because everyone knows that's the sound of an unexpected boner. Krimi fans who don't take themselves too seriously will probably get a kick out of this one. Franco fans who always take themselves too seriously will no doubt be pleased to see Franco wasting good German money again in the vein of La Venganza del Doctor Mabuse (though not nearly as baffling this time around). Determined to make you blink but not miss him, Franco has not one but two cameos in this film: one as a bystander at the first crime scene and another as Mr. Gonzalez, a Spanish expert on throwing knives. I like that.

"You should see a neurologist. Did you crap your pants again, my dear?"

DVD Stuff

This disc from Trash Palace looks and sounds great! Subtitles are easy to read and I really appreciated the krimi and Jess Franco related content on the menu. Definitely worth picking up.