JESS FRANCO MONTH: Tenemos 18 años (1959)

Everything — Dr. Orloff, diamond thieves, longing staring moments into the scenery and the sun, jazz interludes and all the moments of male gaze — all start here. This is Jess Franco’s first film and it doesn’t even hint at the madness that the rest of his near two hundred films would unleash.

María José (Isana Medel) and Pili (Terele Pávez) are on the road and looking for adventure. Seeing as how this is the first full-length film for Jess, they are safe from face stealing mad doctors, women who kill in ecstasy, lesbian vampires and the zooming in way too close camera of the director himself.

Instead, the girls have fantasies like a man who lives in a castle just might be a vampire and the old lady who stares at their yellow car just wants to smash it. It’s light and so safe and yet, behind the camera is the eye of a thirty-year-old Franco who has not yet stared at Soledad or Lina or would someday be shooting films far from Spain. A man who one day, along with Luis Bunuel, would be condemned as the director who offered the most danger to the souls of Catholics.

Many years later, Terele Pávez would play Rosario in El Dia de la Bestia. Her acting career would last from 1954 to 2020.

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