JESS FRANCO MONTH: Paula-Paula (2000)

An exotic dancer named Paula (Paula Davis, Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies) is dead and her lover Paula (Carmen Montes, Snakewoman) may be the killer. But who is good, who is evil, what is desire and what is pure madness?

This “audio-visual experience” is a Jess Franco movie through and through, yet it’s one with a score by Austrian pianist/composer Friedrich Gulda and plenty of video effects, as well as the strange knowledge that it’s based on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Perhaps Paula has tried to kill Paula five times already. It’s something that her doctor (Lina Romay in her last movie) tries to get the answers about, except that you know, the story is the first five minutes and then fifty minutes of sapphic interludes with video effects.

George Lucas made three horrible prequels and endlessly fiddled with the movies that were successes until even his fanbase started to tire of his meddling before selling it all and then complaining about it. As for Franco, he kept making and remaking the same films until he was in a wheelchair and left to just make movies filled with nothingness and ennui within four walls and filled with smaller casts. Yet I’d be on the side of Franco being the bigger success — certainly not monetarily, oh no, there’s no way we can go to Target and get a Perverse Countess or Red Lips or Dr. Orloff action figure — artistically because he kept shooting for an unreachable ideal yet started from scratch every time instead of resigning his paintings. The similarity is that both of these directors really should have been kept away from wacky transitions and digital special effects.

Then again, no character in Star Wars ever is a memory-loss impaired woman who marries a prince and then kills him when she recognizes his palace belongs to the devil. Then again, Franco referred to this as one of the two or three weirdest movies he made, so you can just imagine what that means.

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