JESS FRANCO MONTH: Vampyros Lesbos (1971)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nearly five years ago — August 22, 2017 — we talked about this movie on our site. Let’s bring it back from the grave as we unearth all this Franco all month long. 

Sometimes, when you watch a horror film, you’re lied to by a title that promises you something that the film cannot or will not deliver. Not so with Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos. Franco promises you lesbians and vampires and he delivers.

He also delivers plenty of late 60’s style and a space age jazz soundtrack that threatens to take over your mind. In fact, I had the soundtrack way before I had the movie, as it was re-released in the 1990s.

Countess Nadine Carody (the sublime and sadly departed Soledad Miranda) lives on a remote island where she puts on a seductive burlesque act every night that entices unwary women. Now, she has her eyes set on Linda, who starts dreaming of her.

Somehow, somewhere in all these lesbionic dreams, Linda finds Memmet torturing a young woman. It’s probably of worth to note that the director of the film, Franco, plays the torturer.

Then, Linda finds Nadine’s home, the former residence of Count Dracula. Linda gets dizzy off wine, the two women have sex and Nadine drinks from Linda’s neck. Upon awakening, Linda finds Nadine floating motionless in a pool and awakens screaming in a mental asylum.

That said — Nadine is alive and explains to her familiar, Morpho, how Dracula turned her. Now, she feels that she must turn Linda. Nadine keeps coming back to her, then reappearing in the mental hospital, so Dr. Seward (Dennis Price, Twins of EvilTheater of Blood) explains that if she wants to defeat the curse, she must split a  vampire’s head with an axe or pierce it with a pole.

Let me see if I can sum up the insanity of the next few minutes: Linda is kidnapped by Memmet. Dr. Seward wants to become a vampire, Nadine refuses and Morpho kills him. Memmet explains that all women who meet Nadine become insane, including his wife, so he must kill them all. Linda kills him with a saw, then returns to Nadine. Instead of giving her the blood she needs to survive, she stabs her in the eye, wanting to belong to no one. Morpho kills himself. And finally, Linda’s boyfriend tries to convince her that this was all a dream.

If you’re seeking a film that makes narrative sense, you should just leave this one on the shelf. If you’re seeking an erotic, psychedelic freak out with some amazing music, then you’ve found the right film. While some compare Franco to Ed Wood, in this film, he hit his high watermark with this one.

This is one of those films where you kind of have to put your own reading into it. Mine’s that Linda is bored by her life, by feeling that she needs a man to be complete and believes that Nadine’s free life could be her escape. However, she finds that she would still be a possession, so she destroys her to make her final escape, deciding that a life of boredom could be better than a life of constant feeding on others.

But who can say? Watch it for yourself. Or just listen to the music — this song is also featured in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

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