Dreamlike, poetic, softcore wibblings from the late great Jess Franco – if you can allow yourself to fall into his low-budget, washed-out world you might have a good time.
Countess Irina von Karlstein (Lina Romay) stalks the island of Madeira, feeding on the orgasmic discharges of male and female partners-cum-victims, working up from a farmhand through a student, a journalist and a dominatrix to a sensitive poet with a highly appropriate taste for death.
New distributor Maison Rouge releases an unrestored, widescreen version of the softcore version of Jess Franco’s film. You are going to see breasts, bottoms, pubic hair, a soft cock or two and labia winking from bush. You aren’t going to see any gore at all.
I learned my lesson from the same director’s Vampyros Lesbos some years ago: expect more of a cerebral tingle than a blood rush to the genitals. For all their frenzied flesh squirming about on beds, Jess Franco films inhabit an abstracted world in which aestheticized words, especially monologues, attempt to make sense of said fleshy squirmings.
There’s a dreamlike continuity to the fluid, zoomed camera work and its washed-out colours; like a dreamer the camera feels detached from what it reveals, making the softcore ‘rubbing of bits’ look ritualistic rather than erotic.
If the streak of poetry herein is both visual and conceptual, it certainly takes a bit of time to get used to it. This is in part because of un-iconic nature of the imagery as well as the surreal subtitles which transcend grammar and threaten to transgress the limits of sense.
Review by Colin Dibben
Female Vampire is released for digital download on 06 March 2017.