Slip into something a little more comfortable (or less comfortable, if that’s how you roll). In today’s Journal, we look at two horrific flicks that blend sex with their violence. Featuring even more clothes-shedding than bloodletting. We’ll look at Jess Franco’s classic FEMALE VAMPIRE and the newly rediscovered grindhouse flick, THE SUCKERS.
The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.
What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?
FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 77
(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 15 – OCT. 15, 2013)
THE SUCKERS (1972) – A man and wife bring two of the models from their agency out to the isolated estate of a big game hunter. They have been promised a weekend with lots of opportunities for some photos and hopefully some financial opportunities. What they find instead is a hunter who has finally become the ultimate predator. He informs them that they are the ones who will be hunted, because the most dangerous game is man.
Yeah, it’s another film version of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. It’s also a roughie, since he informs the women of the group that it is only right the hunter rapes his prey, since they are asserting their dominance over them. In other words, you’re also getting some of the misogyny practiced in many of these films, and this is a pretty disquieting example of that trend. The scenes later in the film are pretty brutal and it does take the view that all a lesbian needs is the right guy to love her right.
THE SUCKERS isn’t terrible. There are some good early scenes. Barbara Mills is a good actress and her character is more developed than you’d expect in this type of flick. It’s a grindhouse film in the purest form. But it just doesn’t completely work.
This film was directed by Stu Segall under an alias. Segall later went on to direct such Marilyn Chambers hardcore epics as UP ‘N COMING and both INSATIABLE films. He has also produced a number of projects for television and continues to work today. THE SUCKERS was believed lost until Vinegar Syndrome found a copy and gave it a full restoration. You’ve gotta hand it to the guys at Vinegar Syndrome. They are doing some amazing stuff with obscure films. And though this film isn’t a gem, they took care of it like it was. Disappointing.
FEMALE VAMPIRE (a.k.a. LES AVALEUSES, THE BARE BREASTED COUNTESS, EROTIKILL, THE LOVES OF IRINA) (1973) – In a career-defining turn, Lina Romay plays a mute vampire who must feed on her prey to survive. She does not feed on their blood, but their sexual secretions which means that she seduces everyone before killing them. This is not bliss for her, but torture. She is insatiable, with an uncontrollable desire that torments her continuously. She seduces men and women alike and the people who get too close to discovering her secret often wind up in her thrall.
FEMALE VAMPIRE is one of the most notable films from the late Jess Franco. The way I typically describe Franco to the uninitiated is this: “Imagine a Renaissance painter being forced to work in the field of exploitation cinema, with an emphasis on pulp sensibilities. Then, imagine that painter is possessed by the demonic spirit of a mad jazzman.”
Some people never get into Jess, and that’s a shame. He’s definitely not the guy for people who demand their films be linear and planned out. Franco often worked in a more improvisational style. When I was first exposed to Franco, I was caught off guard and wasn’t sure I liked him. But I had the urge to see more and more. I did, and not only did I like what I saw. Franco became one of my favorite filmmakers.
FEMALE VAMPIRE is an early collaboration with the woman who would become Franco’s muse, Lina Romay. She is unbelievably sexy here and the camera lingers over every curve. She also shows a great amount of vulnerability. Somehow, her eyes are able to show her torment as well as her predatory nature. As previously mentioned, her character is mute. Her lines are delivered via narration in beautiful transitional scenes.
It would be tempting to describe FEMALE VAMPIRE as merely as series of sexual scenes. The film is mostly sex, very explicit and some of it so real it’s hard to believe it’s simulated (there is a hardcore version of this film, featuring inserts). But that over-simplifies the elegance of Franco’s direction, the strength of Romay’s performance and the power of Daniel White’s haunting musical score. Not everyone will be receptive to this. But if you are, it’s unforgettable. The Best.
Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 321
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