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July 07, 2020


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Revenge in the House of Usher
A.M. Franck (jesus Franco and Olivier Mathot) - 1983-88
Redemption Films BD Region A

The history of the making of Neurosis is almost as tortured as any of the characters to be found in the films of Jesus (Jess) Franco. The original film was badly received at a Spanish film festival in 1983. Franco followed up with an even less successful recut in 1985. Finally, actor/director Olivier Mathot revised the story once again with about fifteen minutes of new footage. Except for one glaring non sequitur, a scene involving a supporting character, this final version is surprisingly cohesive in both its narrative and visual elements.

The original film was very loosely inspired by Poe, bizarrely credited here as Edgard Allen Poe, with an umlaut over the letter e. The film was shot in and around a large castle in Andalusia, Spain, tan and arid. While the castle interior is dark, often barely illuminated, the exteriors are oppressively bright. Eric Usher is an aging doctor, exiled due to his unorthodox research and methods, visited by his former student, Alan Harker. Most viewers will recognize some of the the literary liberties taken by Franco in his names for his characters. Usher is trying to revive the life of his daughter, Melissa, with transfusions of blood from unwilling young women kidnapped by his servants Mathieu and the one-eyed Morpho. As Harker discovers, Usher appears to be suffering from a mental breakdown, battling the ghosts from his past. An for inexplicable reasons, whomever was responsible for the English dub of this film had Harker's name pronounced as Hacker.

For some, the highpoint may be the inclusion of footage from Franco's first horror film, The Awful Dr. Orloff, repurposed here as a flashback. The more generous viewer will overlook that the facially deformed assistant, Morpho, in Neurosis played by Olivier Mathot does not quite look like the Morpho of the 1962 film. Those who have even casually followed the career of Jesus Franco will revisit Howard Vernon in his first of many collaborations with the director. As usual with Franco, there is his other familiar collaborators, muse Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, and composer Daniel White who appears as Dr. Seward. Franco also served as his own editor and cinematographer on the original production making this one of his more personal projects. It should be noted that Olivier Mathot has also appeared as an actor in other Franco films, making his participation more fitting.

Neurosis is more likely to be appreciated by those familiar with Jesus Franco. Tim Lucas provides the commentary track here, providing information on the production history including comparisons where possible between the three different versions. As might be expected, Lucas seems to leave no stone unturned, discussing various literary and cinematic connections, primarily concerning Franco, but also regarding the participation of Francoise Blanchard in Mathot's footage. There are two language options, with the film post-dubbed in English and French. What makes this of some interest are some differences in the word choices indicated in the subtitles as well as two different folk verses used in the same scene.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at July 7, 2020 07:03 AM