On April 2nd, legendary writer/director Jesús Franco passed away at the age of 82. Known primarily for his horror, erotic and exploitation films, Franco was a true visionary whose worked spanned over five decades and included over 150 films.
Franco first came to prominence with the release of The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962), which stars Howard Vernon as a twisted surgeon who attempts to repair his wife’s disfigured face using the skin of others. He would later go on to release such classics such as Necronomicon (aka Succubus) (1966), Venus in Furs (1968), Vampyros Lesbos (1970) and The Bare-Breasted Countess (1973).
Franco’s films often dealt with lesbian vampires, the occult, sadomasochism and surgical horrors among others. Fritz Lang once said Franco’s Necronomicon was the first erotic film he ever sat through, ”because it’s a beautiful piece of cinema”.
My introduction to Franco was through Vampyros Lesbos, which is about a beautiful American woman whose dreams are haunted by a sultry vampiress who feeds on her blood. When she arrives on a remote island to deal with an inheritance, she quickly finds that the woman from her dreams is real and she is out to lure her in to eternity. Franco’s use of exotic location, occultist glamour and raw eroticism make the film a real thing of beauty.
While he was often dismissed in later years as simply being an “adult movie” director, this could not be further from the truth. His films were conceptual and highly artistic. While he dealt mostly in the horror and exploitation genres, he always left a mark of style and sophistication. As time goes on I suspect Franco’s films will continue to inspire and there is no question that fans of horror and art house films alike will remember his vast and prolific body of work. R.I.P.
The man himself.