Saturday, October 1, 2016
Huh Watch: Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
There's no easy way to say "this movie promised some sex and nudity, and vampires, and so I watched it" - so let's go ahead and get that out of the way.
I was sent a list of "movies that are basically not great, kind of smutty and horror movies", and on that list was a movie I'd intended to watch for quite some time as it often pops up in discussions of Italian horror directors - and that movie is Franco's Vampyros Lesbos (1971).
I'm not sure this film is ground zero for the lesbian vampire sub-sub-genre, which is definitely a thing when you consider everything from Daughters of Darkness to The Hunger, (this list rightfully points to the first Dracula sequel, Dracula's Daughter as having not so subtle undertones) - but it is, by far, the least subtley titled of all lesbian vampire films.
To be clear - it's not soft-core porn. It is a legit erotic horror movie.
It is also very not good.
I'm familiar enough with both American and European concepts of mixing sex into genre film and comics to try to elevate the genre or medium, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. We can debate the comics work of Milo Manara or Crepax all day long, and depending on how you want to stand on an ideological plane - I get the varied viewpoints on those concepts. There's a fine, fine line between artistic eroticism and exploitation. And this movie, to it's credit, seems to fall exactly on that line.
If nothing else, it'll freak out the squares.
Yeah, Vampyros Lesbos has some attempts at artistry and hepping up the horror genre, but it's also got the pacing of watching the grass grow, a tortured plot, and no one to really get invested in. And sledgehammer-to-the-noggin imagery. Franco does manage to tell a vampire story with a minimum of special FX, places it believably within its time period, and makes it relatively sexy - which is the entire point. But as the movie drags past the hour mark, you may be looking at your watch, even as the film throws nudity at the film with a casualness usually reserved for grotesque violence.
Really, after the opening sequence, it's kind of all downhill, and my guess is that clip is on VideoMotion or one of the other sites that doesn't care about copyright.
I don't know enough about the genre to make another recommendation, because Daughters of Darkness is also similarly paced (why are these lesbian vampires so slow to act?) - and so I'd pick The Hunger as the only other representative of the genre I feel qualified to comment upon. And I'm a big, big fan of The Hunger. It's just a solid movie.
This one... not so much.