Sunday, July 02, 2017
The Naschy/Franco Mondo Macabro Double-Feature
The Mondo Macabro retro-DVD distributor may have come late to the game in the Blu-ray arena, but when they arrived, it was with fanfare and fireworks for fans of the nearly ultra-niche genre film world. Knocking it out of the park with their The Fan and Symptoms blu-rays and their Greek-giallo double DVD releases, lately, Mondo Macabro have gone back to focus on a pair of utterly epitomic Euroshock filmmakers – I'm (obviously) talking about Paul Naschy and Jess Franco. For the latter, Mondo Macabro released onto blu-ray one of his lesser-known 80s sleaze-thrillers entitled The Night Has a Thousand Desires, which stars Franco's then-aging starlet-wife as a psychic who through several sexual encounters is the erotic and fetishistic vehicle for a story involving an elaborate con/scam that ultimately winds up being incredibly cheesy, although not for lack of trying – one can clearly see Franco's passion for telling this heist-sex-comedy story (perhaps unintentionally comic?) even though really, and in true Franco fashion, none of these thematic expectations, other than the sex, pays off successfully, and the whole affair ends up culminating in a barely-more-than-amusing conclusion. While it's clearly evident that Franco had loftier ideas for the film and the story, the gorgeous cinematography and Franco's affection for kitschy and vibrant set designs, and his hardwired knack for filming his muses in sexually explicit situations, all contribute to the memorable visual content of this nearly-lost minor gem. Overall, it's a curio-run-amuck in Franco's immense catalogue of films, and despite the fact that it's no Female Vampire, it's well worth checking out, especially for die-hard fans of the lovely Lina Romay.
Following this release, Mondo Macabro also saw fit to unleash a film from another prolific Spanish filmmaker, Paul Naschy – Inquisition – to my knowledge, this had been one of Naschy's harder-to-come-by films with an early DVD release relegated to the country of origin, Spain, and some evidence of an earlier European box-set release. But Naschy's 1976 film holds the same engaging tributes of his (in my opinion) most successful films, like Panic Beats and Dracula's Great Love – which is to say that Inquisition is brimming with unfolding plot and story elements, creating a twisty maze of double-crosses and doublebacks as it goes along, and hence elevating what could have been a generic revenge-scenario plot by placing it in the politically volatile world of religion and leadership politics of the Spanish Inquisition. Exploitation soars (with loads of nudity with women at the peril of the tortuous witch-hunt inquisition) while the movie's plot twists and an inspired defiance of genre convention and expectation propel one of Naschy's most under-appreciated genre films to the top of his prolific canon. Huge kudos to Mondo Macabro for digging this one up and unleashing it (and The Night Has a Thousand Desires) out into the sadly diminishing hardcopy jungle of North America.
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Check out CINEMAFANTASTIQUE 3 - The international genre film festival in Vancouver on Saturday, August 26th, 2017! Many special guests in attendance! See the FB EVENT PAGE