November 7, 2015

Three Jess Franco films

A month or so ago I came across references to an early 70s vampire exploitation movie called, simply enough, Female Vampire. The director, Jess Franco, is noted for his voluminous output of trash/exploitation horror and a distinctive style as a director. His x-rated output kept him from the mainstream but his work still drew some respect for the occasional gems. I just watched three early films, each wildly unique.

First up: Female Vampire (1975) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ].

Female Vampire

The review over at At the Mansion of Madness got me started on this journey. The story involves a mute Countess Irina Karlstein (Lina Romay) cursed by her family heritage to suck the, ahem, life force from people without ever finding happiness. Absent the many softcore porn scenes, the mood is very static, moody Gothic horror. Notable are the scenes as Irina walks the foggy landscape of the island of Madeira, often with the specters of her victims, as if it were a half-world or purgatory. The blog review above points out that the story has links to a female vampire tale from 1872, 26 years before Dracula, called Carmilla. Side note: underground cinema can produce many versions of a movie with alternate cuts and re-releases. Female Vampire has quite a list of AKAs, a few of the English titles are: Bare Breasted Countess, Sicarius - the Midnight Party, The Black Countess, The Last Thrill, The Loves of Irina, and Erotikill.

[ updated 16 Jan 2016 ]

Countess Irina Karlstein is a reference to the Karnstein family in Hammer Films' The Karnstein Trilogy. These consist of The Vampire Lovers (1970, based on Carmilla), Lust for a Vampire (1971), and Twins of Evil (1971).

[ updated 8 Oct 2016 ]

Back in August, a web series was was released on YouTube based on Carmilla and set in a modern-day college. Apparently very goofy, lesbian-chick centric with such a loyal following that they are releasing a movie in 2017. There are three seasons and a season zero.

Next: Succubus (1968) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ].


Wow. After Lina Romay's vampire I was unprepared for the strong references to David Lynch's Lost Highway, Fellini's La Dolce Vita, and Jean Luc Goddard's Pierrot le Fou (the latter two probably were being referenced). The story: the lead performer (Janine Reynaud, who we'll also see in the 3rd movie) in a sado-masochistic stage show slips into visions of a past life or, possibly, visions implanted by an unscrupulous psychiatrist (?). It is at times impenetrable with its shift in scenes and what I take to be an unreliable narrator in the lead, who often does not remember who she is talking to. Weird and engaging. Original title: Necronomicon - Geträumte Sünden (Dreamt Sins).

Finally: Two Undercover Angels (1969) [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ].

Two Undercover Angels

This was just crazy, stupid fun. Two freelance detective sex-pots groove their way in and out of nightclubs hunting for a deranged art killer. The level of silliness cannot be overstated. I felt I was watching a live action Scooby Doo or somesuch, but a review over at 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting pointed out that Franco described it in an interview on one of the DVD releases as What if Abbott and Costello had made a parody of Judex or Fantomas and what if that somebody replaced Abbott and Costello with a pair of sexy lesbians? Yep. Notable: Morpho the hairy faced female assistant to the killer, the crazy masked lady that appears periodically, and the constant slapstick antics. Whaa? Preceded by Labios rojos (1960) and followed by Küss mich, Monster (1969). I know what's next on my list. Original title: Rote Lippen, Sadisterotica (Red Lips, Sadisterotica).

posted by sstrader at 8:44 AM in Cinema | permalink

November 4, 2015

InsideClimate News and Exxon

A month and a half ago, a story was published about Exxon's internal climate scientists warning executives of the certainty of anthropocentric climate change back in 1977. The scientist's report included statements such as the general scientific agreement that it is human-caused, the risk of agricultural output reduced or destroyed, and that man has a time window of five to ten years before hard decisions might become critical. Further studies conducted by their scientists reported that there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered. Ten years later, Exxon stopped funding climate research and started funding climate change denial in the form of public reporting and federal lobbying.

I'd learned of this story from On The Media the weekend after it was published. On that show, they summarized the report and confronted Exxon's Senior Adviser for Global Public Affairs with aggressive questioning (eliciting, naturally, no answers). Since its publication, I expected it to be discussed more in the public sphere than it has. Here's a timeline of what I see as key articles:

posted by sstrader at 6:32 AM in Environmentalism | permalink