Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Female Vampire (1973)

Female Vampire (1973)
dir: Jesus Franco

Jesus Franco was, at one point, king of the low-rent Spanish erotic horror genre. He created films that combined eroticized females and supernatural elements, mostly to craft an atmospheric mood piece with a lot of breasts in it. Some of Franco's movie are coherent movies, some are pieces of incoherent psychedelia, and some are pure softcore exploitation films.

Female Vampire exists as three versions. An R-rated horror movie, an X-rated softcore edition, and a XXX hardcore version. Somewhat surprisingly, the softcore version of Female Vampire has made it to DVD and to Netflix under the title Female Vampire, while the hardcore version still is out of print. But, really, what would Female Vampire be without the softcore sex? A 30-minute shorter movie about a vampiress who is stalking some European town.

What Female Vampire actually is about is a mute vampiress who is a descendant of Dracula, who kills people by giving them orgasms through oral sex. It could be man or woman, but she drinks their sexual essence and ultimately they die in the midst of their orgasms. Le Petit Mort becomes Le Grand mort. There are also some people hunting her, but that's mildly incoherent as it never really sticks to any of these storylines.

The story isn't what makes Female Vampire so good. I mean, it has something to do with it. But, the true qualities of Female Vampire are in the details. Franco is fascinated by the female body, as he is in every one of his other films. His camera leers over the female body in the most hilariously perverse ways. The opening credits play over our female vampire walking naked, save for a cape, belt and go go boots, in a forest. She stops, and the camera zooms in to give full screen breasts, bush, lips, and pans slowly up and down her body. Then, she walks into the camera, hitting it with her face.

The next scene, she walks into somebody's backyard, whose response to seeing a naked mute woman is "Can I help you? What do you want?" Of course, then she gives him a blowjob and kills him, after which she flies away by flapping her arms to transform into a bat, which, by the way, you never see. The closest you get to seeing a bad is an awesome bat ornament on a fancy car whose wings flap as you drive. I WANT THAT HOOD ORNAMENT.

Along the way, the vampiress, who is a mute, is interviewed by a woman and then kills her by oral sex. She also violates a bed and a headboard pillow. She writhes around in a bathtub full of bloody water. The fabrics are all in the ornate rococo gothic styles that one associates with European castles. Yet, she frequently has those moon boots that were so prevalent in the 1960s.

The voiceovers during the flying bat ornament scenes express a melancholy debate over how she is cursed to love people even though she will kill them, which is re-emphasized by the somewhat solemn elevator muzak that is in every Eurotrashy '70s sleazy film. Female Vampire has this heightened feeling of regret for the sex that it indulges in, but it actually is to just give the whole affair a bit of class, and actually succeed in taking the edge off what would be a women kill through sexuality plot.

Jesus Franco has never really cared much about anything other than leering over the female body. And, it shows in Female Vampire. But, it is so much fun for indulging in all of the cliches that you would expect from a 1970s eurotrashy film. Sultry voiceovers, moustache trimming, rococo fabrics, bad lighting, terrible focus, extreme closeups, 1970s era bush, soft muzak, and hilariously ornate details. As long as you don't take Female Vampire seriously, it is a serious load of fun.

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