Sunday, January 10, 2016

Vampyros Lesbos (Jess Franco, 1971)

Here it is. The review for the movie that started it all. I know, you're probably thinking to yourself: Started what? Well, if you must know, Vampyros Lesbos was the first Jess Franco movie I ever watched. The time, the late 1990s. The place, Showcase (a Canadian specialty channel that used to air arty sleaze from around the world after 11pm). The movie, Vampyros Lesbos. While I'll admit, I didn't become a Franco-phile immediately after viewing his trippy tale of vampires and lesbians. The film did, however, act as a sort of gateway drug that would ultimately lead to more Jess Franco in the not-so distant future. Of course, I had to wait for the DVD explosion of the early 2000s to get my hands on more of that sweet Jess Franco nectar. But thanks to companies like, Blue Underground, Mondo Macabro, Redemption and Severin, I was able to bathe my eyeballs in copious amounts of Jess Franco juice. Unfortunately, the DVD for Vampyros Lesbos (put out by Synapse) wasn't readily available (I think it went out of print rather quickly). Anyway, fast-forward to modern times, and I'm sitting here holding a brand new edition of Vampyros Lesbos (put out this time by Severin). And you better believe I'm chopping at the bit to crack open my brain and see what spills out in correlation to this funky masterpiece.

Oh, and one more thing before I start cracking open my brain. After having watched countless Jess Franco films over the years, I'm kind of glad Vampyros Lesbos was my first, as I personally think it encapsulates everything I like about Jess Franco. In fact, if I were to recommend a Jess Franco flick to someone thinking about diving headfirst into the sleazy/wonderful world of Jess Franco, I would suggest that they go with Vampyros Lesbos. Either it, or Lorna the Exorcist, as both seem to capture the director's essence perfectly.

The reason I would give Vampyros Lesbos a slight edge is simply because the film's soundtrack, by Manfred Hübler and Sigi Schwab, is hands down one of the greatest ever created. Seriously, this review almost had to be postponed due to my overplaying of the soundtrack.

Of course, the fact that I was also staring at pictures of Soledad Miranda writhing around on the floor in black hold-up stockings didn't help matters.

This won't come as a shock to anyone, especially to those with genitals that are on the cusp of being functional, but it's difficult to look away when Soledad Miranda is writhing. Hell, it's difficult to look-away when Soledad Miranda is doing anything.

On top of writhing, Soledad Miranda slithers, skips, slinks, saunters and skylarks throughout this movie. Okay, maybe she doesn't skip or saunter, but she definitely slithers. As for slinking? I don't think you're ever going to come across a performance that is this slinky. I'd even go as far as to say that Soledad Miranda is slinky as fuck.

Just in case the late 1990s version of me happens to stumble across this review after they accidentally fall into a wormhole, "as fuck" is a phrase that is usually added to adjectives in order to increase their power. For example, I'm cool as fuck, or, those winklepickers are fierce as fuck. And by saying that Soledad Miranda is "slinky as fuck," just means that she's extremely slinky.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's move on to the subject of writhing. While writhing typically occurs while one is trying to get a good night's sleep, the majority of the writhing that takes place in Vampyros Lesbos is a direct result of psychosexual trauma.

You see, the person doing the writhing desperately wants to feel the caress of another human being. And when these caresses are not forthcoming, the consequences commonly manifest themselves in the form of more writhing. And you know what they say? More writhing means more unabashed lesbianism, and more unabashed lesbianism means more passion. And more passion means more unabashed lesbians writhing in the throes of unabashed lesbian passion.

Should I even bother to continue to write words? I mean, that right there is some clever ass shit. Nah, I better keep going. It's just that people like, Nicole Elizabeth "Snooki" Polizzi and Kimberly Kardashian have had books published, yet here I am languishing on the fringes of the internet. At any rate, the reason I better keep going is because someone has to got to talk about the red yarn ceiling or Soledad Miranda's monster sunglasses. Think about it. If I don't talk about them, no one will.

Even though nothing seems to phase me when it comes to fashion and interior design from the early 1970s (I've seen it all, baby), the clumps of red yarn that dangle from the ceiling of the foyer in the bungalow that belongs to Countess Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda) had me flummoxed like you wouldn't believe. Resembling strands of bloody hair, the red ceiling yarn is just one of the many flummox-worthy sights that are peppered throughout this movie.

As for Countess Carody's monster shades. All I can say about them is this: Damn, girl. Those are some big ass sunglasses.

After watching Countess Carody perform her porn-esque performance art at a local club in Istanbul, Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Strömberg) and her dull boyfriend Omar (Andrea Montchal) go home to sleep in the same bed.

Suddenly, Linda hears a voice calling  out her name. Linda! Linda! Linda, the voice cries out. After that we get shots of a kite flying through the air, a scorpion strutting by the pool, a moth trapped in a fishing net and blood dripping down a window.

What does all this mean, Linda wonders? She tries to get some answers from her shrink, Dr. Steiner (Paul Muller), but he's too busying doodling in his notebook. In other words, he doesn't give a rat's ass. Personally, I thought the scorpion represented Countess Carody (the seductive predator) and the moth trapped in the fishing net represented Linda (the damsel in distress), but I don't think you should try to comprehend too much of what appears in this film.

A sort of estate agent who works for a company called Simpson and Simpson, Linda's finds herself having to travel to a remote island to take care of some business for a Countess Nadine Carody. Yep, the very same woman from the writhing-heavy performance art show and the one whose been calling out her name for the past few days.

While we've seen her writhe in black stockings and watched her call out a dim blonde's name while sporting a face that can best be described as dour, the scene where Nadine comes face-to-face with Linda, is our official introduction to the countess. Who has to be the sexiest vampire in movie history. I know, what kind of vampire wears a white(!) bikini and goes swimming in the middle of the day? Well, that's just it, Vampyros Lesbos isn't your average vampire film. In fact, I don't think there's a single scene in this movie that takes place at night.

Other characters soon enter the story as Nadine's hold over Linda grows stronger. An occult expert named Dr. Seward (Dennis Price) tries to figure out what's wrong with Linda during her brief stay at his clinic, but he gets nowhere. The same goes for another patient named Agra (Heidrun Kussin), as all she does is writhe on the floor sans pants. As I watched Agra writhe in this movie, I couldn't help but think of Catherine Lafferière's superior writhing work in Lorna the Exorcist.

To give the film more creep-appeal, we're introduced to Jess Franco's Memmet, a hotel bellhop/saw-wielding serial killer/sleazy weirdo, and the Nadine's loyal henchmen, Morpho (José Martínez Blanco). In a classic scene, a cornered Nadine calls out: Morpho! And Morpho leaps into action, taking care of Nadine's problem without fail. Oh, how life would be so much easier if everyone had their own personal Morpho.

Screw Morpho, I want my own personal Soledad Miranda. It should go without saying, but Jess Franco's camera loves Soledad Miranda. Say what you will about his films from a technical point-of-view, the man knows how to shoot leggy women under duress in exotic settings. Whether they be slithery brunettes or slinky brunettes, the women in his film's always look amazing. What I think I'm trying to say is, Soledad Miranda looks hot in this movie. And, yeah.


  1. Nobody shoots the female figure like Franco did, nobody. I'll go into a fistfight with anybody who thinks otherwise.

  2. Franco fans will enjoy these grindhouse trailers that features 70`s Icon/Actress Christina Lindberg that made movies with Franco.
    "Who will survive and what will be left of them?"Watch! Lugnet´s Grindhouse Exploitation Double Feature "All The Way" "It Ain´t Easy" ! A Double feature that´ll tear you in two! Starring Tarantino´s favorite 70´s icon/actress Christina Lindberg!