JESS FRANCO MONTH: Al otro lado del espejo (1973)

The Other Side of the Mirror is about Ana (Emma Cohen, Horror Rises from the Tomb) is a jazz singer who calls off her engagement to Arturo after her father (Howard Vernon, I mean, this is a Jess Franco movie) kills himself. She calls off the wedding, leaves behind her hometown and soon figures out that when any man comes close to her, she feels the urge to murder them, driven on by the image of her father hanging in any reflection she sees. The same image she saw as she tried on her wedding dress for the first time, looking back into her room to see the man self-lynched behind her.

There are tones of past Franco films here; the father and daughter relationship — also Howard Vernon as the dad — from A Virgin Among the Living Dead, the jazz protagonist lost in a world of sex and death from Venus In Furs, but it’s definitely its own movie.

Ana is beyond this world, trapped by something beyond, something that causes her to destroy anyone that could change her from daddy’s little girl and no matter how many miles from the island she grew up on, things can never change. It’s an endless cycle, even if she plays the above it all jazz chanteuse, even if tries to fit in with a group of people younger than her, this can only end one way.

This film has very few of the Franco-isms that most associate with him; it’s sexy but not pornographic; it’s deep but more easily understood; more f-giallo than giallo. Emma Cohen is dead center in this, a force of pure nature even when surrounded by Jess-related obsessions like jazz and dancing women.

Of course, so many men have to pay along the way, like Bill the trumpet player, Miguel the play director and even Pipo, the married man who falls in love with her. Each finds their way into the blade of her letter opener. Is she deranged? Or can her father’s love — and if you didn’t guess it goes beyond that, welcome to Eurosleaze — damn her from beyond death?

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