Monday, October 18, 2010

Blood Lust

Director: Jess Franco
Writers: Jaime Chavarri, Jess Franco
Starring: Soledad Miranda, Ewa Stroemberg, Dennis Price
1970 | Spain | Not Rated | 89 mins

The vampire has taken on the illusive illusion as a sexual object symbolizing carnal desire and the danger of temptation throughout literature and cinema. The idea of being seduced by a dangerous creature whose goal is to make you a slave to their cravings melds both horror and erotica. An idea that appeals over and over again to audiences as the tale of the vampire has been, and continues to be, recycled, re-imagined, and remade throughout cinema history. Not just a blood-sucking ghoul, but the vampire is a consuming entity that encompasses the darker, or more misunderstood, aspects of human sexuality. And leave it up to cult cinematic legend Jess Franco to combine vampirism, lesbianism, and psychedelic music in the long-lost erotic horror classic Vampyros Lesbos.

Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Stroemberg) is getting bored and frustrated in her straight-laced relationship and continues to have reoccurring erotic dreams about a mysterious woman. She's seeing a psychiatrist (Dennis Price) who suggests that she seek out another lover. Through her work as a lawyer, Linda meets  Countess Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda) who has inherited the estate of Count Dracula, and upon travelling to the island estate is cast under the spell of the Countess, a vampire with an insatiable thirst for female blood.

Vampyros Lesbos erotically charges the vampire genre with plenty of softcore lesbianism, nudity, and one of the greatest psychedelic music scores in the history of Euro-horror cinema. Jess Franco alludes to previous films involving Dracula through his imagery and set design. Instead of a flapping bats there are colourful kites, instead of armadillos we have a scorpion walking across the ground, so Franco, even subtly, is playing homage to the original classics even if it doesn't have quite the horror or suspense the original images cast. As briefly mentioned, Manfred Huebler and Siegried Schwab's famous score is something that will have you dancing out of your seats and takes you right back to the late 60's/early 70's, and perfectly suits the long dialogue-less dance sequences.

However, issues do plague the film. Vampyros Lesbos is very slow-paced and drawn out, and most viewers may find it quite boring. A lack of structural story and dialogue give the film more of an expressionistic music experimental feel which, while not necessarily a bad thing, will turn those viewers off who were seeking more of a standard horror film. Soledad Miranda and Ewa Stroemberg are beautiful to look at, but the film isn't as exciting as the premise would have it perceived to be. Vampyros Lesbos is worth a look for fans of erotic horror and Jess Franco completists, but for the rest of world there's probably not enough coherence, plot, or horror to keep one's interest.

All contents copyright 2010 Tyler Baptist

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