It is now official: the Jess Franco DVD well has run dry. With all of Franco’s defining films available on DVD (save for a few major titles like LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE, which has been announced and cancelled by a few companies, SINNER, LORNA THE EXORCIST, and THE PERVERSE COUNTESS), what’s left? The bottom of the barrel junk, like these two films Severin Films has unloaded on the market. Especially disappointing is that these two discs come so soon after their BLACK EMANUELLE’S BOX VOL. 1, which is so far one of the only must-purchase DVD releases of the year! Proceed with caution, as only the most ardent Francophiles will find any enjoyment here.
THE INCONFESSABLE ORGIES OF EMMANUELLE: After a history of lovers, Emmanuelle finally marries the man of her dreams and the couple honeymoon in a quaint village. The two are so enamored of each other they can’t help but screw on the floor of a wax museum. A drunken visit to a bar leads to Emmanuelle engaging in lesbian sex with a stage performer, setting into effect a whirlwind series of extramarital shenanigans that cause the disruption of the marriage. Attempting to reconcile with her husband, Emmanuelle is gang raped by three hooligans. But this violent event flicks a switch in her psyche, resulting in her believing she is destined to be a whore for the remainder of her life.
THE SEXUAL STORY OF O: Tourist Odile, after being peeped on and peeping on a horny couple in the apartment across from her hotel room, is invited to their spacious mansion for the remainder of her vacation. However, when the man begins to take a more romantic interest in her, his wife decides enough is enough and introduces her to the dark world of S&M. Franco seems more interested in remaking EUGENIE…THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION, which this one more than resembles.
The best moments of interest in both films come from Franco’s great appreciation of his locations. Shot on-location in seaside Spanish villages with great local flavor and picturesque pastoral splendor, Franco captures his native country in beautiful scope photography, and displays, once again, that he had a great eye for visuals often hindered by budgetary constraints. The aforementioned wax museum sequence in EMMANUELLE is the only memorable scene because of the humor and effective voyeuristic sexuality. The remainder of the film is made up of lengthy, boring sex scenes, slightly enlivened by the presence of lovely blonde starlet Muriel Montosse (billed under her regular Franco moniker “Vicky Adams”). Thoroughly unremarkable. As for STORY OF O, it’s slightly better, though there are still way too many extended sex scenes. When Franco begins introducing sadism into the mix, with psychedelic lighting and opticals, the film picks up, with the final 10 minutes packing a minor punch. However, you have to sit through an entire unerotic feature to reach the finale.
This much can be said for these turds: they’re polished to perfection! Transferred from the original negatives in 2.35:1 anamorphic, the colors in the film leap off the screen, fleshtones are astonishing, and there is no damage to be seen anywhere. EMMANUELLE has both English and Spanish language tracks (with optional English subtitles). The film plays better in Spanish, as the English dubbing is one of those embarrassing monstrosities so familiar from other Franco outings. STORY OF O is in Spanish with English subtitles, though a few characters do speak English in the film.
Director Jess Franco is interviewed on both discs, and proves to be the only entertaining aspect of each release. Franco hasn’t given a bad interview; even when he veers off-topic, he is the type of ballsy subject who doesn’t give a damn who he offends or badmouths. It’s his story and that’s that. On EMMANUELLE, Franco reveals his dislike for Just Jaeckin’s films, speaks out against the American film industry that bars porno performers from breaking into the mainstream, and the interesting fact that he is his worst critic, loathing most of his films and refusing to watch them because of what they could have been. He also confirms my suspicions that composer “Pablo Villa” is in fact his friend Daniel White, whose lilting melodies provided lyrical beauty to the sleazy on-screen behavior in Franco’s films. On STORY OF O, Franco expresses his love for the original novel and criticizes Just Jaeckin’s glossy take on the story, memories of the actors (including the hilarious comment that leading lady Alicia Principe was “stupid” and her boyfriend was co-star Emilio Linder, who basically tricked her into doing porno), and his love for the sadistic literature of the Marquis de Sade. (Casey Scott)
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