JESS FRANCO MONTH: Revenge In the House of Usher (1985)

So let’s try and make sense of this: There are three versions of this movie, all with completely different plots.

Version 1: Usher (Howard Vernon) is a killer facing mortality while dealing with the torment of the ghosts of his victim. This original version, The Hundimiento de la Casa Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher) was only shown once at the 1983 Imagfic – Festival Internacional de Madrid de Cine Imaginario y de Ciencia-ficción. The audience laughed and booed the film from start to finish, which led to the movie never being distributed and making some of the footage lost forever.

Version 2: Usher (still Howard Vernon) is a vampire who needs human blood to stay alive. This version has three new scenes with Vernon murdering three victims, a new plot and a new title, Los Crímenes de Usher (The Crimes of Usher), and a very limited release two years after it was made.

Version 3: Usher (yet again, Howard Vernon) is a mad scientist who kidnaps village girls and uses their blood to keep his daughter Melissa (Françoise Blanchard, Nero and Poppea – An Orgy of Power, Caligula and MessalinaThe Living Dead Girl) alive, meaning that he’s Dr. Orloff. In fact, Franco even used fifteen minutes of black and white footage of The Awful Dr. Orlof.

Then, Brazilian independent filmmaker Felipe M. Guerra (Deodato HolocaustFantastiCozzi) made a fan cut that reassembled as much of the lost version 1 as possible, editing in versions 2 and 3 and keeping any repetitive footage out of the movie. Shown at Fantaspoa – International Fantastic Film Festival of Porto Alegre (Brazil) in 2016, it caused guest Antonio Mayans to say that it was the first time that he had seen the movie that Franco had intended and that the dignity had been restored to his work.

As for the House of Usher in the film, it’s the Castle of Santa Catalina, where Die Another Day was shot. However, what Franco has captured, through his three cuts — well, nearly four — is the story of Dr. Alan Harker (Mayans) who goes to see his former professor Dr. Eric Usher (Vernon), who may be hundreds of years old and given to hallucinations.

The doctor’s assistant Morpho is Olivier Matho in the new footage. He also directed scenes for the French version. Of course, the housekeeper is Lina Romay. It makes about as much sense as a Frankenstein Poe story as told over multiple decades by Jess Franco is going to get.

You can watch this on Kino Cult.

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