Reviews & Commentary

Female Vampire (1973)

Also known as
Les avaleuses, Erotic Kill, Bare Breasted Countess
Gérard Brisseau & Jess Franco
Jess Franco (as J.P. Johnson)
Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, Jess Franco (as Jess Franck), Jean-Pierre Bouyxou
Jess Franco (as Joan Vincent)

Jess Franco has never really been one for tight plotting, which he proves yet again in 1973′s Female Vampire. Franco himself (under one of his many pen-names, Jess Franck) stars as Dr Roberts, a pathologist investigating a series of murders he, quite rightly, believes are being perpetrated by a vampire. Franco’s muse, Lina Romay in one of her first starring roles, plays Countess Irina Karlstein, a vampire who walks around naked and kills some people. Our leading man is Jack Taylor who plays — I dunno, a poet? He doesn’t really do much for the first hour of the film, except trim his moustache and wax philosophical in voice-over. He does have a handsome moustache, though. That’s really all the plot there is.

Of course, film isn’t really about the tale, but the telling. And Franco, as I’ve often said before, does have a certain visual flair. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really showcase it in Female Vampire, which is shot in Franco’s standard voyeuristic-but-workman-like, autopilot style, and tending to focus on Romay’s crotch. There are some fairly successful shots, but they would be much more successful if Franco didn’t insist on holding them for so long. Maybe he wanted to save himself work in the editing room? Of course, if he’d kept the shots at reasonable lengths, the film would be maybe twenty minutes long.

The acting also is the usual Franco fare: Romay looks pretty but bored, Taylor looks like a 70s coke dealer (I’m not saying he was a coke dealer, but if I were looking for an eight-ball on the Female Vampire set, I know whom I’d ask first), and the bit players range from mediocre to bad. I did like Dr Orloff’s (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou) method for performing an autopsy: groping around in the poor victim’s groin. That’s something you don’t see every day. Franco himself is actually a decent actor and he looks sort of goofy, in a good way; he should give himself better parts.

He should also invest in some better voice-actors; the English dubbing on the version I watched was atrocious. The dialogue is poor to begin with: it’s like it was written by someone who knows people talk to each other but hasn’t actually heard it happen in real life. This is compounded by the voice-actors, who sound like they’ve learned their lines phonetically without really understanding what they’re saying. It’s all very weird, as if it were written and performed by aliens — not in a good way.

It’s just a boring film: there’s barely any plot, the sex scenes are so dreary they’re practically deconstructions of the idea of sex scenes, and the only character who has any dimensionality at all is Romay’s, and she seems to be bored with the film, too. The only redeeming parts are a couple of the dialogue- and sex-free scenes, where Franco actually does manage to create some tension, but they’re not enough to hang a movie on.

Written by Kalle on Thursday April 21, 2011
Permalink - Category: Film - Tags: 1970s, vampire, lina-romay, jess-franco

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