Female Vampire/Erotikill (1973)

Director: Jess Franco

I’m not sure you can have a proper horror film “festival”—if that’s what you call this—without at least one film banned in Australia, so here we go… I wonder how this would fare these days with the OFLC, for whom it was obviously beyond the pale 40 years ago; given there’s one scene that I suppose would count as necrophilia (the countess riding the corpse of one victim after she’s otherwise finished him off), it’d be interesting to see if they had any conniptions over it. As with the last Franco DVD I reviewed from Kino/Redemption, their DVD of this film contains the longer sexy version (though not the actual hardcore print) and the shorter horror version; the former contains a novel twist on the usual vampire bloodsucking, which, let’s face it, was bound to have come about before long once the porn/horror film became a thing… rather than getting out of the neck, this vampire goes a little, well, further south. (Interestingly, cunnilingus seems to work just as well as fellatio, so the film manages to fit in some lesbian jollies as well…) (oh the searches I’m probably going to attract now I’ve said those words). Franco was unquestionably blessed by the addition of Lina Romay both to his life, and to this film in particular (this being their first full collaboration); la Romay is a remarkable presence through the film right from the somewhat startling opening credits. The vampire is mute (apart from a couple of moments of internal monologue) so she really puts her whole body into her performance. The end result is kind of perplexing, not exactly fully successful in its execution (pacing is slack and some of the sex scenes really do crap on too long; the short version generally benefits from their being cut, and yet Franco actually is kind of successful in conjuring up a particular sombre mood… all soft focus, slightly pale and faded colours, Lina Romay walking nearly naked through a foggy forest, the slightly curious love story Franco evidently felt was the real heart of the film, the overall feeling of not exactly being in the real world. Probably not a “beginner’s” Franco film, but there’s something about I liked for all its faults, even if I’m not 100% able to pin it down…

EDIT (1/11/13): Actually just ran a check on Refused-Classification.com, according to whom a much-shortened version of the film was actually passed with an X rating here in 1985 though probably not released in that form. Also, when the OFLC banned it in 1995 when Redemption were starting out here, their report actually said the “necrophilia” bit only merited an R rating; their real problem was the dungeon scene which would’ve been fine if the film were rated R but not if it were rated X, which rating I presume they would’ve otherwise given the film. Since Redemption obviously decided against resubmitting it (which they did with a couple of other titles the OFLC banned at first), I don’t suppose we’ll find out what would’ve happened if that scene got cut…

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