3/26/09

B.L.O.G Presents Female Vampire (1973)

Since in the last couple of weeks I’ve been fulfilling requests on Tuesdays, I thought I would take up a suggestion that was thrown out a few weeks back for this week’s B.L.O.G entry. Tonight we get to take another look at Jess Franco as he attempts to blend horror and the erotic with the help of….
Lina Romay was actually born Rosa Maria Almirall in mid-fifties Spain, and when she began acting took her stage name from a singer/actress who was once part of Xavier Cougat’s band. Starting with 1972’s The Erotic Adventures of Frankenstein where she played a bit part as a gypsy girl, Romay became Jess Franco’s muse appearing in over 100 of his films. She also stole the director’s heart, and while they have never married, their professional and personal partnership lasts even until this very day. 

It was in her 6th film with Franco when she first took on a lead role. It was a role would be the first in a long line of brazenly sexual roles Romay would portray. It is not perfect film, far from it, but it is the tale of the Countess Karlstien, known as…
Female Vampire [French: Les Avaleuses] (1973) starring Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, and Jess Franco. Directed by Jess Franco. 

After a rash of killings begins to plague a resort town, Dr. Roberts (Franco) begins to investigate the killings and soon begins to suspect that the murder is a vampire. His prime suspect is the beautiful, but mute, Countess Karlstien who is vacationing at a local resort. It seems the Countess comes from a cursed family, and to stay alive she feeds on blood and the hormones of her victims when they are in the throws of an orgasm. She leads a sad lonely life, but soon finds herself attracted to the handsome, mustachioed Baron Von Rathony (Taylor). The Baron feels like they are destined to be together, but the Countess is unsure. The couple retreat to the Countess’ family home high in the mountains, but with Dr. Roberts on her trail, the life and the love of the Countess may well be at an end. 

The Bugg Picture

Wow, that was a really hard movie to synopsize. While all of the events (and a few others) happen in the film, the majority of the running time is not devoted to plot development. Instead, from the first frame of film on, we are treated with a continuing series of scenes and situations which are devoted to keeping Romay in as little as possible. In fact Romay only has 3 costumes in the entire film. The first is a simple spring number: vampire cape, belt, and knee high leather boots. See in the world of Female Vampires, covering one’s breasts is overrated. That’s what she doesn’t bother with either off her other outfits either. A white dress she wears while tanning, yes, tanning, is basically sheer, and then her last outfit is a tight black dress with a completely transparent top. If anyone thinks they might want to see Lina Romay’s breasts, well, you get all the chances you will ever need in this film. 

That’s not to say I did not appreciate them, after all, to paraphrase a certain sitcom, they are real and fabulous, but as with anything that becomes a constant in a film, after a while the effect wears off. Romay of course does not stop at exposing her breasts, and you pretty much get to see every character (except thankfully Dr. Roberts) in their birthday suits. While one or two of these folks who get sexed to death by the Countess have entertaining scenes, again it becomes monotonous and fills up too much of the picture. 

How much does it fill up? Well, we are an hour into the picture until the love story even begins to kick off. While we have shared many a scene with Jack Taylor by this point, (including getting a Dr. Manhattan worthy look at Taylor’s junk as he trims his ‘stache), his scenes are entirely too melodramatic and full of what Franco was trying to pass as “philosophy”. As far as Romay’s acting what is there to say. Mostly, she roams around named, and she’s mute. So I really don’t have anything to say about her various styling’s when nodding ‘yes’ or shaking her head ‘no’. The only real standout acting comes from Franco whose Dr. Roberts is consistently entertaining each time he takes the screen. Also the blind spiritualist, Dr. Orloc (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou), is a totally creepy dude, and I would especially like to see him in the 1978 film The Raisins of Death.
 
In the end while there is some cool plot points, some scenes that work dramatically, and some moments where the film has a very aggressively erotic tone. The problems I have really come down to too much or not enough. The sex scenes where mostly uninteresting and long, and lusting after Romay became pointless when she is naked for virtually the whole of the film. Then there’s the fact that the characters are never really developed, and the plot is never given any chance to grow. There’s too much of the sleazy Franco and not enough of the artful director who struck a better balance two years earlier with Eugenie




Bugg Rating
Here's a long (5min) cut from Female Vampire. I did not review the whole clip myself, but I can pretty much assure you that some parts may not be safe for work. 

7 comments:

  1. While I love Franco and Romay, I could not get into this one. It had it's moments, dull I found it quite dull for the most part...even for a Franco movie. You review was very fair though.

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  2. Not going to say much on this as beyond a few choice titles I am a bit of a Francophobe. I would like to say though that Lina Romay is such a fox. I like her.

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  3. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobMarch 26, 2009 at 8:07 PM

    mr. lightning bug, this was a top-notch reveiw, however i was hoping that the pictures that you used to accompany it were all going to be of lina romay completely naked.

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  4. Thanks for all the comments folks, and sory for not being able to share the wonder of Miss Romay in the buff, but I don't want The Man to come and get me.

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