Jess Franco. Fantasy Energies
by Stephane du Mesnildot
Publisher : Deep Red (October 2004)
Language : French
Number of pages : 160 pages
1961: The Horrible Doctor Orlof is projected on the screens. This fourth film by a young director from Madrid, a veritable expressionist nightmare traversed by flashes of sadism and violence then unheard of, won over fans of fantastic cinema. Building on his success, Jess Franco became a cult reference, constantly adding to the exuberance of his universe. We come across vampire strippers, mad surgeons, sadistic prison guards, the magician Cagliostro, Frankenstein and Dracula in person, Venus with fur, the Marquise de Sade, black, perverse or bare-breasted countesses, without forgetting Miss Muerte and a few cannibals…
Until the decline of European exploitation cinema in the early 1980s, Jess Franco was the undisputed king of Bis cinema and neighborhood cinemas, chaining at a frenetic pace horror films, adaptations of classics of eroticism and fantasy and anticipating the great wave of pornography. But for the author of Vampyros Lesbos , genre cinema first represented a vast laboratory of narrative and visual experimentation, a Factory where stars such as Soledad Miranda, Kali Hansa or Lina Romay shone. This jazz lover has never stopped mixing popular cinema and the underground, classicism and the avant-garde, the archetype and improvisation. His work, worthy of appearing alongside those of Luis Buñuel, Jean Cocteau or Kenneth Anger, does not shrink from any bloody excess and does not impose any taboo. Jess Franco's films are Dionysian celebrations where the fetish figure of the female vampire reigns supreme, an ecstatic and constantly resurgent incarnation of desire. The result ? A carnal art expressing itself on the unmarked grounds of performance, happening and body cinema.