Thursday, May 29, 2008

Warren: A Short Film On Warren Oates (My First Video Production)

This past semester I took an intro to Video Production class and our final project called for a short film with a length of 2-3 minutes. I took the opportunity to go to Depoy, Ky...the birthplace of one of my favorite actors, the legendary Warren Oates. This is what came out of it and I thought I would share it here.
Please keep in mind this was the first time I had used a camera and also the first time I had used editing program (this was cut on Final Cut Pro) so I know it is primitive at best. Still, for those interested in where Warren came from and spent the first 13 years of his life, it might hold some interest.
So be kind to my first, and most likely last, little film and if you have some comments leave them here as I disabled them at YouTube (those folks can be vicious).
Also, I have noticed when I post YouTube clips as of late a separate window for their site opens causing the video to play in two windows. Just close out that second one...not sure why it is happening.
God Bless Warren Oates.

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World (2001)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

He Is Iron Man

Considering the guy looked like he was on the point of total self destruction just over five years ago, there is something positively triumphant about the performance of Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man.
I know I am a little late to the party here on Iron Man but I had to post how impressed I was by the film and specifically Robert’s performance as Tony Stark. While the film falters a bit in the final climatic section, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a summer blockbuster so much. Jon Favreau’s direction is really spirited and manages to find a nice balance between the thrilling older comic book adaptations I grew up with like Richard Donner’s Superman and the more modern CGI fueled films that typically just find alienating.
Iron Man is a real winner on nearly all counts. Featuring possibly the best cast of the year including Downey, a menacing and bald Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, the voice of Paul Bettany and a radiant Gwyneth Paltrow, Favreau’s film is a rare special effects spectacle that also works as a human drama. I felt really invested in the characters here and that’s something that rarely happens in these types of films anymore.
Of course the film is a special effects feast and I found them to also be above the norm, with them only faltering slightly in a climatic fight sequence that plays out as the picture's weakest point. Otherwise though they are really thrilling and I totally believed that was Robert Downey Jr. in that Iron suit and not just a faceless design that originated on someone’s computer monitor.
For all the films virtues, including some really sharp and thought provoking commentary on the ramifications of weapons manufacturing, the major selling point of the film is indeed the work of Robert Downey Jr. One of the finest American actors we have, Downey delivers one of his best performances as Stark and he looks the model of good health. I found it quite a moving experience watching Downey in this film and this performance, combined with his scene stealing work in David Fincher’s Zodiac, marks one of the most successful and much welcomed comebacks in quite a while.
I’m not all that familiar with the comic book Iron Man so I can’t really comment as to how faithful the film is but it worked extraordinarily well for me and I hope they deliver more films in the series. The film’s final defiant moment alone (in which Black Sabbath’s own “Iron Man” is used to great effect) made me want to stand up and cheer, even if it was as much for Robert Downey Jr. himself as for Jon Favreau’s smart, exciting and invigorating film.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Catherine Deneuve and Clint Eastwood Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at Cannes

Congratulations to Catherine Deneuve and Clint Eastwood, both of whom just received a lifetime achievement award at this years Cannes Film Festival. I am glad to see two such deserving artists being honored in this way. I am also glad to hear that Eastwood's The Changeling received mostly good notices (as did its star Angelina Jolie) although it failed to take any of the top prizes. It's definitely among my most anticipated upcoming films.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Candice Rialson Tribute Week at Harry Moseby Confidential

Starting Monday I will be paying a week long tribute to the much missed and very special Candice Rialson at Harry Moseby Confidential. I will be offering up some exclusive screenshots, wallpapers and other Candice related items as well as writing on some of her key films like Pets, Hollywood Boulevard and yes even Chatterbox.
I hope everyone will stop by and help me pay tribute to one of the most memorable personalities of the seventies.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Warm Birthday Wishes For Sybil Danning

Happy Birthday to Austrian actress Sybil Danning, who made one of the most surprising and welcome returns to our theaters in the past year. To celebrate Sybil's birthday here are four wallpapers, featuring shots from two of my favorite Sybil Danning films, for your desktop that I made. I'm not a web designer so these are pretty primitive, but hopefully they might look okay as your background. Here's to many more upcoming roles from the iconic Danning.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Return of Alejandro Jodorowsky

I noticed an incredibly exciting blurb over at Ode To Azia that Asia Argento has signed on to star in the new work from legendary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. The film, entitled King Shot, will mark Jodorowsky's first work in nearly twenty years and would have to be considered one of the most important returns of the decade. Others signed on to the David Lynch produced film are Nick Nolte, Udo Keir and possibly David Hess.
Jodorowsky's has had many projects fall through over the years but I really hope this film comes through as the modern cinema world could use the kind of beautiful madness that only Alejandro can give us.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now if I ran a theater...

Anyone else ever had any bad experiences with theaters advertising revivals of classic films and then just poorly projecting the DVDs of them onto a big screen? I've been to quite a few of them and the results have been rarely good for me. The recent showing of First Blood that I had been so excited about was spoiled due to the stadium sized theater being too large for the digital showing, which caused the film to be overly dark and nearly unwatchable (something that apparently plagued a lot of showings of it).
My bad luck continued yesterday with a local big screen showing of all three of the original Indiana Jones films. I figured it would be a perfect way to catch back up with the series in preparation for the new film and I had been greatly anticipating it for the past couple of weeks.
I had a feeling it would just be a screening of the currently available DVDs and my fears were confirmed when my girlfriend and I arrived to find a guy in front of the screen loading a disc into a laptop computer. I don't really have that big of a problem with this concept, as I love the opportunity to see classic films back on the big screen, but rarely will a digital projection match a screening of an actual print of the film. I do wish though that theater chains would bother giving a damn about the presentations they are putting on. Even a simple thing like learning how to use the equipment seems to be too much to ask anymore.
Our Indiana Jones evening started out with shuffling around trying to find a seat that had a clear view to the screen as a couple of lap tops, the projector and some speakers were haphazardly scattered around to block almost every conceivable good view you could have.
Finally finding a couple of sort of decent seats, we were "treated" to a ten minute reel of new trailers at an unbearably loud and distorted volume. This looked to be the sort of promotional reel the theater had to agree to play in order to show the trilogy on DVD and it featured three previews (including one for an upcoming Adam Sandler movie that made me want to run out of the theater) and some annoying television commercials that reminded me of why I mostly watch shows on DVD now.
Nearly fifteen minutes behind schedule, and with a pounding headache due from the volume of the promotional reel, Raiders of the Lost Ark started. My heart sank as I immediately realized they were projecting the film at the wrong aspect ration...letterboxed but squeezed in like an old pan and scan tape with the volume so low that most of the dialogue was near impossible to hear, my revisiting of Raiders of The Lost Ark was disastrous.
We obviously didn't stay for the two sequels. I saw one guy complaining as we were leaving but it was obvious the person in charge either couldn't comprehend the technical problems or just didn't care. It was an extremely frustrating experience, but unfortunately one that seems to becoming more and more common as probably at least 1 out of every 5 films I go and see now as some sort of technical glitch due to the apathy of the theaters management and staff.
I really don't want to be someone who just stays at home watching DVDS. There's nothing like the communal magic of sitting in a darkened theater and watching a film on the big screen...unfortunately that magic is more often than not lost these days due to a lack of caring (at least in the local theaters around here).
What really sucks is that Raiders of The Lost Ark lived up to my memories of's a wonderful and exciting film that I'll honestly take over anything Spielberg has done since. Watching the terrible presentation of it yesterday made me realize how clearly I remember seeing the film when it originally came out and how special an experience it made me feel quite nostalgic and I am sorry my time with it again was spoiled so severely.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cinema Wasteland's Exciting October Lineup

The guests for the Cinema Wasteland Movie and Memorabilia Expo this October have been announced and they are absolutely stellar. Several favorites that I have focused on here before including Lamberto Bava, Cinzia Monreale and Marilyn Chambers are going to be there. Other favorites also appearing are Brett Halsey, John Saxon, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Adrienne King and Betsy Palmer.
I'm thrilled with the number of Euro Horror luminaries that are going to be there and am positively giddy about the prospect of meeting Monreale, Bava and Chambers. The show takes place the first weekend of October and more information can be found at the link above.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 21 Grams (2003)

A new series here at Moon In The Gutter designed to celebrate my favorite films of the decade by using a series of ten stills from each.

100 Years Ago Today

The remarkable and much missed Jimmy Stewart came into this world 100 years ago today and I couldn't let it go by without tipping my hat to the great man. Here is a behind the scenes shot of Stewart and a special friend from one of my personal favorites, 1950's Harvey.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This Week at Harry Moseby Confidential.

Sandwiched between the most respected film in the Rocky series and one of the most popular, Sylvester Stallone's 1979 film Rocky II has never gotten the attention or respect it deserves. I will be paying tribute to this special film all week long starting tomorrow at Harry Moseby Confidential and invite everyone over throughout the week to give a look if they would like. I'll be focusing on different aspects of the film and offering some thoughts, exclusive screenshots and a look at the remarkable out of print novel Stallone himself wrote in 1979 to go along with the film.

Thanks to my readers here who came over for last week's Smokey and The Bandit tribute and left comments. It was a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate the week after graduation.

On a personal note, I would like to dedicate the upcoming tribute to Rocky II to my friend Casey who I just found out is expecting her first child. Casey is one of the only one of my old friends, that I know of, who visits Moon In The Gutter on a regular basis and she is also one of the only people I know who loves the Rocky films and Sylvester Stallone as much as I do. I hope she enjoys the posts and I wish her all the happiness in the world on her upcoming adventure.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to Dennis Hopper

From Rebel Without A Cause to Easy Rider to The Last Movie to Out of The Blue to Blue Velvet to Land of the Dead, it's been one hell of a ride for Dennis Hopper and his fans and I'm glad it's not over yet. To celebrate his birthday I wish some enterprising company would release finally The Last Movie on DVD with all those rumored extra hours of footage on there for good measure.
Let us all raise a glass to a man who has seriously had one of the longest and most remarkable careers in Hollywood history.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Life Rotates in 45 Revolutions Per Minute: The Doors, "Riders On The Storm" and "The Changeling"

I always have music in my head…constantly no matter what the situation is. Whether I am alone, writing, or talking to someone I always have a song or a piece of music playing somewhere in my mind. I also have, I believe, a bit of an obsessive and addictive personality so I will often get a particular song stuck in my head and it will play (often just a small section) over and over again.
Right now the song I have swirling around my mind is the incredible track “The Changeling”, the lead off song to L.A. Woman, The Doors final album with Jim Morrison as lead singer.
I don’t often hear of “The Changeling” mentioned as one of The Doors finest moments but I absolutely love it, as I do that entire ingenious L.A. Woman album. Punctuated with by the wondrous bass playing by TCB band member Jerry Scheff (a man I have been fortunate enough to meet and see play several times), I find Morrison and The Doors around the time of L.A. Woman to be among the all time great rock units. With its pulverizing mixture of the blues and a back to basics attitude, The L.A. Woman album is my favorite of The Doors celebrated career…a remarkable feat considering how in trouble Morrison and the band was at the time of its recording.

"The Changeling" is a remarkable song on many levels. Featuring one of the grooviest and swinging (at one point Morrison joyously yells out “Get Loose”) rhythm tracks the band ever laid down, “The Changeling” is one of the most infectious tracks The Doors ever delivered. Highlighted by the impressive keyboard work by Ray Manzarek and the unbelievably cool guitar playing of Robby Krieger, with a swaggering and ferocious vocal by Morrison added on for good measure, “The Changeling” sounds like a return to full power by a band many people had written off by 1971 and its still a thrilling listen all these years later.
The idea of a “Changeling” is an old one and centers on a supernatural creature substituted for a human infant. Morrison apparently originally wrote the refreshingly unpretentious lyrics around 1968 just after the release of the Strange Days album. Why The Doors waited until over two years later to record the track I don’t know, but I’m glad they did though as I can’t imagine a more perfect opening for arguably their greatest album.
“The Changeling” would have served The Doors well as single choice in 1971. Instead it was relegated to the B-Side to the equally astonishing and more complex “Riders on the Storm”. That haunting track, featuring one of the most devastating uses of the Fender Rhodes Electric Piano ever, inspired by killer Billy Cook hit the top twenty in early 1971 shortly before Jim Morrison was tragically found dead in Paris at the age of 27.
I suspect “The Changeling” suffered from being on the B-Side of “Riders On The Storm” and an A-Side release would have exposed more people to its incredibly infectious groove and its promise of a rebirth…even if that rebirth would finally have to come at a cost.
Rightfully so, “Riders on the Storm” continues to be one of the most popular and most played classic rock songs of all time (a few years back it hit the charts again in the form of a surprisingly effective mash-up with Blondie’s “Rapture”), while “The Changeling” is mostly just known to people who are still in love with the L.A. Woman album all these years later.
Outside of its appearance on a couple of import collections and a welcome place kicking off the Home Video collection, The Soft Parade (1991), The Changeling is still most commonly heard as the introduction to L.A. Woman.
Give it a fresh listen if you haven’t in a while, I think it stands well with the best of The Doors…which is itself a pretty demanding feat.

The picture above of The Doors around the time of the L.A Woman sessions is from this link.

Please Tell Me I Am Hallucinating

Anyone who was around in the early days of this blog might remember this post, in which I stated my love and admiration for Abel Ferrara's beautifully bold 1992 masterpiece Bad Lieutenant, a movie in my eyes which is among the finest in all of American cinema. The film, which started out from an original script by Zoe Lund (something that isn't mentioned enough), remains one of the most memorable theatrical theater experiences I have ever had and one of the most spiritually enlightning works of art I have ever seen...comparable to Pasolini's The Gospel According To Saint Matthew (yea, I think Ferrara's film is that good.)
This morning I saw the news that Nicolas Cage was planning on remaking the film and I have to admit that disgust was the first thing that crossed my mind. Cage was at one point one of my favorite American actors. He was bold, original and daring but since his award winning turn in Leaving Las Vegas (another one of my favorite films) he has become a bit like Rod Stewart after 1977...a disappointing commercial property with only flashes of what made him great. I figured this latest remake news (wasn't the raping of The Wicker Man enough?) was just another in a long line of disappointing choices in Cage's career and nothing more.
Imagine my surprise though when I saw that it was none other than the great Werner Herzog set to direct the remake...and to be honest it made the news even more disappointing. I could deal with someone like a Brett Ratner signed on to do it as that is expected, but Werner Herzog? Seriously, I wish someone would slap me and tell me I was having a nightmare. I love Herzog and he has made some of my favorite films but the idea of someone touching the final collaboration between Ferrara and Lund just makes me sick.
I really hope this film falls through and doesn't happen. If it does I hope it fails and I don't like to wish ill on any production, especially one by Werner Herzog but I just can't stomach this. With Zoe Lund gone, Harvey Keitel stuck in straight to video hell and Abel Ferrara not able to get American distribution for his newest films (not to mention the fact that the theatrical version of Bad Lieutenant is unavailable in the States), the idea for this remake seems as spiritually bankrupt as the Bad Lieutenant himself was in the beginning of Abel's film.
I've seen nearly every film Werner Herzog has ever made and Anchor Bay's two box sets of his work occupy a special place in my collection but I will not see this film if it happens. The original work by Abel Ferrara is perfect and totally untouchable in my eyes...I just can't bear to see it tampered with anymore.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

You'll Be Missed John

I am very saddened to hear the news, courtesy of Tim Lucas at Video Watchblog, that the wonderful John Phillip Law has passed away. I am a huge fan of John's and this is really just extremely bad news. To follow Kimberly's lead from Cinebeats, here are some of my favorite films that the beautiful and talented Law appeared in. My best to his friends and family...he will be greatly missed.

The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming (1966): I'm not as sold on this Norman Jewison film as some I know, but I love John's work in it. He is positively beautiful in the film.

Death Rides a Horse (1967): John is terrific in this Giulio Petroni Spaghetti Western, one of the best of the genre, opposite Lee Van Cleef.

Diabolik (1968): Mario Bava's masterful film contains probably the definitive John Phillip Law role and after watching him here it is near impossible to imagine anyone else playing this part. He's wonderful in it and his commentary track with Tim on the DVD is one of the best I have ever heard.

Barbarella (1968): Who could ever forget John as the angel Pygar opposite Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim's trippy classic?

The Last Movie (1971): John was one of many memorable faces who appeared in Hopper's iconic and controversial film.

Open Season (1974): John gives one of his best performances opposite Peter Fonda in this disturbing Peter Collinson production. I wish I still had a copy of this.

Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974): Terrific Gordon Hessler directed fantasy that gives John one of his most iconic roles. His scenes with beautiful Caroline Munro are among my favorites of his career.

The Cassandra Crossing (1978): John joins an all star cast in this exciting and intriguing George P. Cosmatos film.

Blood Delirium (1988): Underrated and disturbing Italian thriller from Sergio Bergonzelli gives John one of his great late period roles. Ranks among his best performances in front of the camera for my money.

CQ (2001): Roman Coppola's film is one of my favorites from the decade and it was wonderful seeing John appear in it. Still incredible looking and charismatic, his performance was just one of the films many joys.

Nice Post On Emmanuelle

My friend, and one of this blog's biggest supporters, Keith has a nice post on one of my favorite films from the seventies that I invite everyone to read. I'm always grateful to read nice comments concerning Just Jaeckin's Emmanuelle and Sylvia Kristel so Keith's post on the film is very welcome and informative (I didn't know Marika Green was Eva's aunt!). Click here to read Keith's nice post on the film...hope he does one on the second, which is my favorite of the series.

Joe D'Amato's Return From Death

Joe D’Amato’s 1991 film Ritorno dalla morte (Return From Death: Frankenstein 2000) has the distinction of being one of the final horror films from the legendary cult director. It is also a production that would see him reuniting with two of his most memorable stars, Cinzia Monreale and Donald O’Brien, as well as being a deliberate attempt at recalling some of his most noteworthy productions. Unfortunately it also has one of the poorest reputations of any film he ever shot and, truth be told, that repute is not totally unwarranted as Return From Death is not a very good film. It should be noted though that it is the kind of bad film that only a great director can make and it is at least worth one look for fans of D'Amato or Italian horror in general.

D’Amato’s swan song as a horror filmmaker actually gets off to a fairly strong start. A nice looking if overwhelmingly cheap production, shot as usual by D’Amato himself under the alias of Frederico Slonisko, and featuring a very solid score by Piero Montanari, Return From Death sets a nice tone immediately with a well shot and moody opening credit sequence that quickly gives way to the intriguing but finally poorly realized script D’Amato himself penned.

Return To Death centers on a young mother, a fine Monreale who is severely undermined by one of the worst dubbing jobs I have ever seen, whose psychic abilities tell her that her young son’s life is in danger. After being nearly raped and then beaten into a coma by some young thugs, who have also just killed her friend Ric, she enters into a telepathic relationship with Ric's corpse who then goes on a vengeful killing spree for her.

D’Amato’s idea of updating the Frankenstein story wasn’t all that original but for at least the first thirty minutes or so it is played quite well and Return From Death seems like it might build upon some of the dread that the director had exploited so well in earlier films like his masterpiece Buio Omega and the lesser seen but still solid Absurd. Unfortunately things begin to fall apart for the production as soon as Monreale’s character is hospitalized, as the film then just ventures into a poorly paced and badly handled revenge story featuring some of the worst special effects ever to grace a D’Amato production.

The atrocious and cheap special effects and a lumbering second half spoil the few attributes Return From Death possessed in its first half hour. The whole production feels rushed, misguided and poorly executed. Still, there are moments where you can feel D'Amato guiding the film into something of quality. A very well edited scene towards the beginning involving Monreale surrounded by a variety of horror and cult movie posters is very well handled, as well as a creepy if non-sensical picnic sequence where she sees a stranger chasing her son through the woods with an ax. D'Amato also gives the film some nice repeated visual motifs, such as the correlating shots between O'Brien's corpse and Moreale's comatose body that recall some of Buio Omega's most striking scenes and an off the wall Nazi themed party that hearkens back to some of the directors more crazed and off the chain productions from the late seventies.

The cast does the best it can with the obviously rushed material and script. Monreal is as lovely as usual but, as I already mentioned, the dubbing job provided for her character is simply atrocious and really spoils her work. The late O'Brien, appearing here in one of his last films, does a nice job of first playing a very sweet and timid man and then a blank lumbering monster but his work here is nowhere near as noteworthy as his past films in the Italian thriller, comedic and western genres. Filling out mostly underwritten parts in the film are mostly first time (and only time according to IMDB) actors as well as a couple of familiar genre faces like Maurice Poli and Emy Valentino. It should also be pointed out that the film's costume design is courtesy of none other than Laura Gemser, and this film would sadly mark one of her final jobs in cinema as she retired soon after.

Despite being a mostly poor production, I felt more than a little pulled in by Return From Death, if just for the soft spot I have for Italian Horror genre in this period. Like a bloodied and exhausted boxer on the ropes refusing to go down, the genre as a whole is clearly not well by the early nineties but even the weaker films have flashes of past glories, and Return to Death is no different in that regard.

The talented Joe D'Amato would, with just a couple of exceptions, submerge himself into the world of strictly adult filmmaking after this production, and that is sadly where he stayed until his death in 1999. Return To Death is served fairly well by Raro's Region free PAL DVD which features a sharp full frame presentation and an interview with uncredited screenwriter Antonio Tentori. Raro's disc unfortunately only offers the English dub of the film but is otherwise fine. The always reliable Xploited cinema carries it here for around twenty dollars. They also carry Montanari's score, which truth be told is a more satisfying experience than the picture it was written for.

Reminder: Tonight's The Night

Just a reminder for all interested that tonight is the night for the nationwide theatrical screening of First Blood. I am super excited about it and am hoping to see a nice turn out. To rev up for the event, may I suggest this incredible fan site that is one of the most dedicated and exhaustive tributes around.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Belated Birthday Wish For Jess Franco

Since I missed Jess Franco’s birthday yesterday (check Tim Lucas’ very nice letter to him at Video Watchblog) and since I have been neglectful on writing much on the great man here I thought I would offer up a quick listing of ten of my favorite Franco films.
Even though he is one of my favorite maverick filmmakers, I have probably only seen fifty or so Franco films which makes me pretty much a punk, but even though I still have a ways to go in his filmography my dedication to the man (whom I had the pleasure of meeting about 12 years ago)remains unwavering
So while I continue my journey to seeing as many Jess Franco films as possible, here are ten that continue to haunt my dreams and echo through my waking life. Consider this a late birthday card to one of the most uncompromising and individualistic directors in film history.

In chronological order rather than preference:

Lucky, The Inscrutable (1967): Deliciously energetic and witty spy caper is one of the most purely entertaining films in Franco’s canon and Bruno Nicolai’s score is a real favorite.

Two Undercover Angels (1969): Another trippy spy themed production this time with the unbeatable pair of Janine Reynaud and Rosanna Yanni. The two can also be seen in the equally fun Kiss Me Monster from the same year. Reynaud is of course one of the great figures in Franco’s world and I suspect I will get some well deserved flack for including this rather slight film over Succubus (1968).

Venus In Furs (1969): One of the first Franco films I ever saw and still among my favorites if just for the astonishing performance by Maria Rohm, the lovely photography by Angelo Lotti and the unbelievably great soundtrack from Mike Hugg and Manfred Mann.

Eugenie de Sade (1970): Just about my favorite Franco film. Starring the much missed supernatural Soledad Miranda, this is one of the great films of the seventies and the recent Region 1 DVD is one of the most welcome of the decade.

She Killed In Ecstasy (1971): I actually prefer this one to the incredible and better known Vampyros Lesbos (1971). Miranda continues to prove herself as one of the most hypnotic and mesmerizing presences in screen history here, and the film remains one of Franco’s most haunting.

Female Vampire (1973): Lina Romay steps into Miranda’s shoes and fills them beautifully in this amazingly erotic and powerful film. Of all the versions I prefer The Loves Of Irina version to the one out from Image.

A Virgin Among The Living Dead (1973): Strange and disturbingly beautiful meditation on love and death featuring a really special performance by the mysterious Christina von Blanc…plus that oh so beautiful Nicolai score. I love this film.

Celestine (1974): Charming sex comedy features probably my favorite performance by Lina. While not as progressive or as great as so many of the productions Jess and Lina were mounting in this period, this one remains a personal favorite.

Doriana Grey (1976): Intense and troubling film that I think is among Franco’s finest. Contains another one of Lina’s best performances and Monica Swinn proves absolutely unforgettable.

Macumba Sexual (1983): I just saw this one in the past year and it really floored me. I typically prefer Franco’s work from the late sixties to mid seventies (obviously from the list above) but this one struck me as one of his greatest and most daring films.

So, obviously ten is an impossible number in dealing with Franco as essential titles ranging from The Orloff films to The Perverse Countess to Satanic Sisters to Faceless and so on are missing in action. Still, the ten above constitute some of my favorite films. Check both Robert Monell’s essential I’m In A Jess Franco State Of Mind and of course Tim Lucas’ Video Watchdog and Video Watchblog for the most important, knowledgeable and refreshing work on the world of Jess Franco.