JESS FRANCO MONTH: La noche de los asesinos (1974)

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe*in the credits and Edgar Wallace in an interview Franco gave — well, we can say that for any krimini or giallo, hmm? — Night of the Skull has Jess Franco making a mystery movie that doesn’t go fully into his usual perverted take on, well, everything. But there’s still plenty of love in this.

No zooms, no wild moving camera, no plot that seems made up when the camera starts rolling, not even much nudity — but Lina Romay does get whipped and ends up dating someone who may be her brother, so yes, this is a Jess Franco movie.

Lord Marian (Angel Menendez) is reading from the Book of Apocalypse — again, not a real book, which is a Franco trademark as much as stolen diamonds and sex scenes — when he’s attacked by a hooded menace and buried alive in mud, only his hands emerging and reaching for the heavens. Everyone thinks that his secret daughter Rita (Romay), so has been used as a servant and the whipping target of his second wife Cecilia (Maribel Hidalgo, Santo vs. Doctor Death) before the will states that she gets everything.

There’s also another will and another family and everyone starts getting murdered by the masked killer, all in ways that reference the end of all things as well as the four elements. And hey — it’s set in Louisiana, which is crazy because Scotland Yard has jurisdiction there, which makes as much sense as anything Franco usually writes.

*The Cat and the Canary, which isn’t by Poe but is a play by John Willard that became a 1927 silent movie and a 1939 Bob Hope-starring remake.

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