Groovy & Wild Films from Around the World

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summer Style

After much rain and record-low temperatures, it finally looks like summer’s come overdue to the city. Bright, sunny days like this, walking around and staring appreciatively up into the sky brings many pleasurable images flashing through my melding-pot mind, and of course, being the obsessive cinema maniac that I am, a lot of the pleasing images that are melding with the ocean, beaches, bikinis, beers on open patios and ex-smoker’s reminiscences, are scenes from some of my favorite films. When I was younger, I took a two-week visit to the Kaman Islands and most of the hours in my day were splashed with mental clips of Romero’s Knightriders and Argento’s Tenebre (which Argent self-described as his only “sunny” film). Today, years later, I am surprised that the images that flash through the overworked grey matter in my skull (or overcooked, depending on your disposition) were from Blade Runner and John Carpenter’s short Cigarette Burns. The latter made a little bit of sense to me, at least, as it was shot around the neighborhood where I live. The former, I suppose, came to mind as last week I’d caught a few minutes of Blade Runner on Showcase, and then was reminded of it in the opening pages of this month’s Rue Morgue magazine, and then coming across a novel-length book on the making of Blade Runner at the local Chapters yesterday, which prompted my to finally pick up the most recent “final cut” DVD, which I popped into the player last night. So, I can only surmise that this would be why such a dark and stylishly brooding post-modern film noir would be flashing crazy imagery through my brain on such a wonderfully warm and sunny nearly-summer morning.

Now, what the hell would all this have to so with Jess Franco, one would sanely be pondering; and what the hell is it doing hanging out on a Jess Franco fan blog? Well, blame it on this summer Sunday if you will, or the laid-back attitude of the West Coast, but trust me, I am getting to the point, just in a possibly annoyingly and leisurely way. As we (I) speak, the sun is still slashing through the apartment windows and I’m staring at a gorgeous view of the lush-green University property across the wavy water, so pardon me if life seems a little leisurely at the moment. However, one thing that has always reminded me of summer in this city - and as well, this city’s sunny days have reminded me of - are a few of the more funky films from Jess Franco. The sunny and kitschy She Killed in Ecstasy and Vampyros Lesbos, specifically – but also to a lesser degree Two Undercover Angels, The Devil Came from Akasava, The Girl from Rio, 99 Women and Euginie also come to mind. I remember sitting an apartment in the city a couple of summers back, blasting the sounds of the Vampyros Lesbos soundtrack (or: the Sexadelic Dance Party) through the window and over the balcony while the sun slowly descended in it’s distinctively Canadian way and the rays turned golden on the street below, reminding me vividly of the images filmed for Vampyros Lesbos, and the exquisite Solidad Miranda. In 2004, this was doubtlessly the inspiration that would become realized in the short film Sex & Death: 1977 one year later. I don’t know if it was the way the film stock looked, the raw practical daylight filming, the European locales, or the style and kitsch coupled with Miranda’s beauty that would forever cement these images as associations to summer in the city, the beaches, and the ocean -- but whatever the genesis, beer on an open patio, bikinis and Vampyros Lesbos will always have a warm and sunny place in that overworked grey matter of mine.

While Euginie de Sade still (sadly) sits unopened on my living room bookshelf and Bloody Moon awaits its release this very summer, there is more Franco for me to discover in the hot days to come. So here’s to sunny days and the Sexadelic Dance Party. (Crack beer open now)