Saturday, February 12, 2011

THE END OF WORLDWEIRD CINEMA?!? And the latest from Mondo Macabro!!

So I'm sure most of you have noticed that there hasn't been much going on here of late. In fact, it's been more than four months since my last post. My thanks to anyone who's still been checking in to see if there's anything new, my apologies to all who might be disappointed that there hasn't been. Truth is, my heart just hasn't been in it. From a personal life in turmoil to a wide range of interests other than movies to often just wanting to sit back and enjoy a film and not have to think about how I'd write about it, the reasons for my absence are many and varied. I'd love to say that this is a temporary hiatus, but I'm not sure. Anyway, this might be my last post for awhile. I need to figure out what my priorities are and get some things straightened out in my head before I can devote my time and concentration to writing about cinema again. But I still love movies, and I love the whole 'Worldweird Cinema' concept and feel there is still great work to be done in this field so I imagine I can’t stay away forever. But before I go off into self-imposed exile, I'd like to whole-heartedly recommended to all of you (however many of you might be left) the two most recent releases by our fave DVD label of all time Mondo Macabro. I speak of course of their two Jess Franco blockbusters SINNER and LORNA THE EXORCIST!

Of course the troubles that have plagued these discs have become the stuff of legend, particularly in the case of LORNA. I will not repeat the litany of obstacles that nearly derailed this release; you can find those at your nearest Google search. I will only praise the immense effort that MM has put into both discs. They are among the best ever presentations of Jess Franco’s work available. The movies are incredible too. SINNER is as solid and foursquare a movie as Franco ever made, but still washes over you with degenerate sex and heady, psychedelic music. The acting is surprisingly good for an early 70s soft sex epic and while a few plot points are muddled, the story is absorbing and solid. LORNA on the other hand, is just completely off its rocker. It is perhaps Franco’s most bizarre and unsettling movie, trading in the uncanny and unhealthy atmosphere that have always pervaded the wayward autuer’s best movies, but here cranked it up to full blast. The cut on this DVD is almost 20 minutes longer than any version ever released on video, with the most important revelation being the long-written-of but-rarely seen dildo initiation scene between starlets Pamela Stanford and Lina Romay. It’s transgressive, disgusting and highly erotic all at once. The United Nations should consider giving Pete Tombs and Andy Starke some sort of medal for unearthing this scene and several others which have fleshed out this morbid and disquieting film. Another key trait to note about both films are their incredible scores. SINNER’s is wild and psychedelic, LORNA’s hypnotic and melancholy, both hold the films together, lending a linear thread to hang the degeneracy and weirdness on.

The DVDs themselves are nearly flawless. SINNER looks as just about as perfect as one could hope for and while the quality of LORNA varies with the different prints used to re-construct this uncut version, it’s practically a miracle that it exists at all. There are great extras as well. Steven Thrower contributes an overview of Franco’s films as well as introductions for each movie. As Thrower is perhaps the most insightful of all cult film critic/historians, these interviews are absolutely must-views for fans of Jess. You will come away with some new perspectives on his bizarre, labyrinth filmography, I promise. Also featured is an exclusive interview with editor Gerard Kikoine, who worked on many of Franco’s pictures during his time making movies for producer Robert De Nesle. He’s quite charming in a very Gallic sort of way and there’s plenty of insight to be gleaned from him about early 70s French exploitation cinema scene. Great stuff. These extras are featured on both discs. Basically, you NEED both of these amazing DVDs, surely among the best and most significant cult releases currently to reach the market in quite awhile.

Next up from Mondo Macabro: STRIP TEASE! Starring Nico! With music by Serge Gainsbourg! Coming May 17th!

So, this probably WON'T be the End Of Worldweird Cinema. Just the last for awhile. I will probably be back after I figure some stuff out about myself. My thanks to the guys at Mondo Macabro and Onar Films for being supportive of what I do and allowing me to review their wonderful product. Thanks to all who've read and offered vocal support. Thanks to all who've read and just enjoyed in silence. Special thanks to Jack J of Denmark for occasionally kicking me in the ass to get back and do something here. If I return it will be in large part due to his unyeilding support. Special thanks also to Lindsey P who supported me and this blog through it's formative years. More Special Thanks to Rebecca S for pushing me to at least finish this entry and inspiring me to do more. Keep checking back, weird-movie fans, who knows what you may come across!