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October 28, 2006

Holloween Candy from Jesus

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Macumba Sexual
Jess (Jesus) Franco - 1983
Severin Films Region 0 DVD

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Mansion of the Living Dead/La Mansion de los Muertos Vivientes
Jess (Jesus) Franco - 1985
Severin Films Region 0 DVD

Just in time for Holloween come two erotic horror films from Jesus Franco, with a greater emphasis on the erotic. Signing the films as Jess Franco, the films mark Franco's return to Spanish language filmmaking, shooting on location at The Canary Islands. Both films also star Franco's wife and muse, Lina Romay, in blonde wig under the name of Candy Coster, and feature another Franco stock company star, Robert Forster (Antonio Mayans). The two films are linked by characters who stay in seemingly deserted hotels, love slaves complete with chains and dog collars, and women who would be naked at the drop of a hat, except they don't even have hats.

Much of the attention to Macumba Sexual is devoted to the top billed Ajita Wilson (seen above). In the DVD interview, Franco compares Wilson to Christopher Lee, both as tall, menacing presence on screen. Much of the interest in Wilson is due to her history as a post-op transexual who primarily appeared in erotic, if not strictly pornographic, films. What is more interesting about Macumba Sexual is the constant motif of folk art from Senegal, often of animals and much of it sexual. The film is a mobius strip of dreams within dreams, with Romay as Alice Brooks having nightmares about the mysterious Princess Obongo (Wilson). It's not Wonderland, but a remote desert paradise and prison that this Alice discovers. Mayans appears as the writer husband to our Miss Brooks, with a scene that seems taken from Kubrick's The Shining. Much of the film is padded with scenes of Alice's various sexual encounters, but the film also contains nicely framed images of statues and folk art. Franco also appears in the small role of a peculiar hotel desk clerk. For Franco, the majority of Macumba Sexual is his celebration of Lina Romay in full. Who else would make a film in which an international real estate agent makes a sale wearing the smallest, tightest pair of cut-offs, displaying much of Romay's fleshy assets?

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Candy Coster (Lina Romay) in Macumba Sexual

Because of their similar appearance, the living dead of Mansion of the Living Dead have been assumed to be the temporarily revived version of The Blind Dead. In the accompanying DVD feature, Franco explains what he had in mind when he made the film. Romay is part of a quartet of German strippers whose vacation destination turns out to be a large, virtually empty hotel. The previously used Horror Hotel might have made for a more accurate title. Romay and her plump, self-described "hotties" jump into bed with each other while waiting for the hotel's other guests to show up. Each of the women becomes the victim of the living dead, Devil worshipping priests who have been cursed with immortality. Gang rape is the preferred method of worship. Romay discovers one other hotel guest, a woman chained to a bed, craving food that is just out of reach. The story makes as much lunatic sense as any in the Franco oeuvre. Instead of logic, Jesus Franco delights in those outsized eyes and lips of the uninhibited Lina Romay.

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Candy Coster (Lina Romay) in Mansion of the Living Dead

Posted by peter at October 28, 2006 07:28 PM