Lorna the Exorcist (1974)

Director: Jess Franco

Yes, he actually did make the occasional actually kind of coherent film! Don’t know how often Franco did this, but he managed at least once in 1974… This was another of his films for Robert de Nesle, all of which are apparently now very hard to find except in shitty bootleg form apart from the handful (like this) actually legitimately released on DVD; Lorna, however, seems to have required rather some reconstruction thanks to de Nesle’s cack-handed management of his catalogue and evident lack of interest in properly preserving it. As a result, the film is visually quite variable—occasionally even within the same shot—but narratively it hangs together much better than some of Franco’s oeuvre. Basically it’s a Faust story: down on his luck businessman has fling with witchy woman who offers him vast wealth but at the price of his not-yet-born daughter; when the latter turns 18, the woman comes to collect her debt. As Stephen Thrower says in his DVD piece, the film just has this “unhealthy” aura, there’s something about it that’s intensely disquieting but it’s really hard to define exactly what that is. Once again Franco utilises a striking location (a newly-built resort in the Camargue) whose frankly odd appearance contributes something of that, I suppose, that aspect of mid-70s futurism, but I think it’s just a general cumulative effect of things throughout the film being kind of fucked up (let’s just say that “initiation” scene with Pamela Stanford and Lina Romay probably tipped the film towards the X rating it apparently got in the US), until you get to that end scene with Lina going wide-eyd bugfuck, which is really rattling. The somewhat grotty low-budget look kind of works for the film, the acting is actually generally pretty good, and a couple of bits aside (including business evidently repeated from Vampyros Lesbos involving one of the witch’s other victims in a psychiatric clinic), it actually hangs together fairly well on the whole. Well done Mondo Macabro for the effort in restoring it…

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