Reviewed by Patrick Cooper
The folks at Kino and Redemption Films have been showing the maestro of soft-core sleaze Jess Franco some love on Blu-ray lately. They released a humble disc of his 1975 sadomasochist horror film Exorcism with no features besides the alternate cut (Demoniac). For his 1973 film Female Vampire, they’ve included some special features as well as the less-explicit alternate cut. It’s a nice package for his fans, but the film itself suffers from the drawbacks of nearly every Franco film.
The filmmaker’s muse and late wife Lina Romay stars as the Countess Irina Karlstein, a mute woman who lives with her family’s curse of having to drink bodily fluids to survive. Not blood, cum. Both male and female. She feeds by going down on her victims and once they orgasm she drains them of their fluids and they die. It’s not explained how this kills them, but this isn’t the type of film to sweat over details.
The Countess returns to her ancestral home on the Portuguese island of Madeira, making the locals wary and the men horny. There she lurks around all sexy like, usually with just a cape and boots on, engaging in sexual relations with men and women alike. She finishes them off in more ways than one, if ya catch my drift. She even has a dopey assistant who lures victims to her home. That’s really about it as far as the story goes. There is a weak sub-plot thrown in concerning a writer (Jack Taylor) who falls in love with the Countess, but that flaccid emotional story quickly finds its boner and devolves into a round of deadly oral sex.
The erotic scenes in Female Vampire are excruciatingly long and make up about the first hour of this 100-minute movie. There’s one solo scene with Lina where she’s writhing around on a bed for something like seven minutes. This is after she performs fellatio on the bedpost. Franco films these scenes very clumsily. He erratically zooms-in on crotches and butts like he just hit puberty. As sexy as Lina is, these scenes are nothing but tedious.
Luckily Redemption has included the 70-minute cut of the film, titled Erotikill. This version cuts out much of the sex in exchange for more violence. This version also seems to imply that Countess Karlstein feeds on blood like a normal ass vampire.
For Franco fetishists, this disc is a must-have. It’s a well-made package with some brief, but well-produced features. For those unfamiliar with Franco, you might want to check this out via your preferred method of rental.
Redemption Films presents Female Vampire in 1080p from a print containing an abundance of scratches, specks, and sporadic brightness fluctuations. No digital tampering has been done, which honestly may have weakened the film’s foggy, natural look. There are audio tracks in English and French, both in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The English dubbing sounds silly, so I recommend watching it in French with English subtitles.
Erotikill – a 70-minute, less explicit cut of the film.
Destiny in Soft Focus: Jess Franco Remembers Female Vampire (13:00) – Franco reminisces on the film and his relationship with Lina.
Words for Lina (13:00) – a nice tribute by co-star Jean-Pierre Bouyxou. He tells some anecdotes about Lina, always stressing how great her sense of humor was. He calls her a “guttersnipe.”
Trailers for Franco’s Exorcism, The Nude Vampire, The Rape of the Vampire, Female Vampire, and Requiem for a Vampire.