JESS FRANCO MONTH: Succubus (1969)

The German title for this movie, Necronomicon – Geträumte Sünden (Necronomicon – Dreamt Sins) is metal as fuck and when you get right down to it, isn’t Jess Franco the same way? I feel like him like I do about Venom. Most Venom songs sound the same, but man, they all sound pretty good and while they aren’t the best musicians, they lucked on to some really great riffs and really, isn’t that what we’re looking for?

Franco’s first movie outside of Spain, this was his hope that he’d escape all the rules and censorship by working in Germany. The script was three pages long, which feels like two and a half pages too long for a Jess Franco movie, and the funding didn’t come through, but producer Pier A. Caminnecci paid for the rest and had an affair with lead actress Janine Reynaud despite her husband Michel Lemoine being in the cast. And that’s how a Jess Franco movie gets made.

American-International Pictures released this movie in the United States under the title Succubus and when Roger Ebert reviewed it, he called it “a flat-out bomb. It left you stunned and reeling. There was literally nothing of worth in it. Even the girl was ugly.”

Reynaud, who was also in Franco’s Kiss Me Monster and The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, plays Lorna Green works in an S&M club where members watch fake deaths from the whip, the cross and yes, sex. And as Lorna continues to dance, she takes on the role of the femme fatale not just on stage, but in reality. But what is reality, after all, in a Jess Franco movie, particularly in 1969 when he had something of a budget, was shooting on film and some youth?

That said, if he had one of his muses in this, like Soledad Miranda or Lina Romay, I fear it would have been even wilder.

At once a mannequin movie and a film about a woman that may have killed someone and can’t remember and it’s driving her insane — oh man, two of my favorite themes — and it gets wild, like you’re drunk at a party and end up at another party and talking in the kitchen to someone and then someone hands you some pills and you wind up standing in the cold in the middle of a major city and the snow and rain and wind are in your face and you close your eyes and open them to heat and the most gorgeous and demonic creature you’ve ever seen is dancing mere feet away from you and you’re just a mere mortal and you want to touch their garment and jazz is blaring and you’re sure you’re in your bed but you’re so fucking far from home.

All hail Jess Franco.

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