Spain has had many great horror and sleazy film directors and at the top of that list has to be the one and only Jess Franco…you do know who Jess Franco is right? Well if not, I am here to fill you in on the man and his legacy. Jess Franco, who was not only a filmmaker but also a jazz musician, started making films in 1959 when he made “We’re Eighteen.” Throughout the 60’s Franco made many films that would gain a cult status, films like The Awful Dr. Orloff, The Secret Of Dr. Orloff, The Dianolical Dr. Z, Kiss Me Monster, The Blood of Fu Manchu, The Girl From Rio, The Bloody Judge, Count Dracula and many more! But the 70’s was when full-on sleazy horror and sex films came out to play and when he became a mainstay name in the world of Spanish exploitation films with films like Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed In Ecstasy, A Virgin Among The Living Dead, Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein, The Bare Breasted Countess, Jack The Ripper, Zombie Lake and many other nudie horror and thriller films that pleased fans of grindhouses as well as drive-ins. Even in the 80’s he made films that had some major impact with the fans of his work: Bloody Moon, Oasis Of The Zombies, Mansion Of The Living Dead, Faceless among others, but sadly by the 90’s his films lost steam and he was making shot on video films that lacked the charm and raw feeling of his films of the past. Franco was married in 2008 to Lina Romay, an actress that he had worked with for over 20 years and had placed in his films at the age of 17! Franco never stopped making films even after his wife’s passing in 2012, but he sadly passed away in 2013 of a massive stroke. Most believed he died of a broken heart, while many blamed the fact he smoked over three cartons of cigarettes a week. Franco’s films will live on thanks to DVD, Blu-Ray and even VHS, and his work has inspired many other filmmakers like Andy Copp. This was only a quick crash course on Franco, and for those who want to learn more about the man and his work, make sure to check out books like “Pornodelic Pleasures: Jess Franco Cinema” by Jack Hunter and “Obession The Films Of Jess Franco” by Lucas Balbo, Peter Blumenstock, Christian Kessler and Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog fame! While I myself don’t love many of his films, I do like many and respect the hard work and art that went into his early film work. Rest in peace, Jess Franco. May you and Lina enjoy your afterlife together.
I first laid eyes on the beautiful Lina Romay in the 1974 film Bare-Brested Countess, better known as Female Vampire, when my brother bought it from Renaissance Music when it came out as part of Image Entertainment’s Euroshock Collection. From the moment I saw her, I was hooked on her beauty. My brother, who is three years older than me, was already a fan of her’s and I could see why! The whole film she walks around naked…yeah, she is naked in almost every shot. At the time I saw this film, I was going through my blonde women craze, and Lina changed that back to dark haired women real quick. While at the time I found the film itself very slow paced (I later grew to like it) and forgettable, I was forever marked as a fan on Romay’s. Lina Romay, whose real name is Rosa Maria Almirall Martinez, had acting in her blood as after high school she studied the arts and worked on many stage productions. During this time she briefly married photographer and actor Raymond Hardy. Her big break in film work came in 1971 when she meet Jess Franco who put her in his films, and a partnership was born. It was upon meeting Jess she changed her name to Lina Romay after a jazz singer and starred in over 100 films, most of which were horror/adult in nature. In most of her films Lina had nude scenes as well as sex scenes, making her a sleazy icon to fans. Lina and Jess married in 2008, and she continued acting for him until 2010, still getting nude even at the age of over 50. Sadly in 2012, Lina passed away from cancer; her death marked a loss of a true Spanish exploitation actress and ended a long career of entertainment. In her prime Lina was a goddess and could easily be one of the hottest horror actress of the 70’s. Lina is truly missed by her fans. Below are some pictures of Lina in her prime. Don’t stare to long…because then it becomes weird.
Before Lina, Jess’s “IT” girl was the stunning Soledad Miranda, the shinning stare and breathtaking beauty of his films. Soledad broke into entertainment in Spain at the age of 8 when she became a dancer and singer, and by the age of 16 she was in films, only having minor roles and struggling. She pushed on, making minor waves with audiences, and she was in all types of films from westerns to horror, finally retiring in 1964 for the first time after getting married and having a child. She returned with a roar when in 1969 she started working with Jess Franco and the pair made 7 films together in just that year. Franco saw that Soledad, who was going by the name of Susan Korda, was such a talent he wanted to sign her to a multi film deal. The day she was to sign her deal, she and her husband went for a drive and got into a wreck with a truck. Her husband was banged up but okay; sadly Soledad was not. She suffered fractures to her skull and spine and was in a coma. A few hours after the wreck, she passed away at the age of 27. It’s a shame she passed away so young and to be honest, she had what it took to be a major star not only in Spain but around the world. Franco went on record as saying the day she passed away was the worst day of his life. Soledad may be gone, but she will never be forgotten. Her key Franco films include Count Dracula, Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed In Ecstasy.
In the 90’s Franco seemed to have another beauty on tap and that was Ohio born Amber Newman, who was from Tipp City. Her first role in films came with the 1995 film “Vamps: Deadly Dream Girls” directed by Mark Burchett and Michael D. Fox about vampire strippers. She later did a film called “Satanic Yuppies” for the pair of directors in 96. It was in 1997 that she started to work with Franco and got roles in his films Tender Flesh, Lust For Frankenstein and Mari-Cookie And The Killer Tarantula. Newman than stared in a string of Cinemax style adult films and even spiced in some horror films. I first saw Newman in a VHS copy of Vamps that I bought from West Coast Video, and while the film was pure cheesy, Newman caught my eye. At the time I was hot and heavy making films for Independent B Movie and thought one day I would work with her on a film….that day never happened. As of 2011 Newman is still making movies and starring in TV shows and who knows maybe one day she will have a cameo on Terrifying Tales of The Macabre.
The 1980’s was the best time for horror films. Not only could you go to your local theater and see a chiller, but you could also watch them on cable TV, horror host shows as well as rent them from a video store..the bottom line was horror was popular and was everywhere. The 80’s also was the boom period of what is known as The Scream Queen, attractive women who were always killed in the films who could scream and get naked in the blink of an eye. The Queens of B-Movie Screams at this time were Brinke Stevens (my favorite), Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, all who thrilled horror fans with their powerful lungs and heavenly bodies. The Scream Queen we will be looking at is Michelle Bauer, who later in her career would work with Franco on a few films and would prove that even an aging scream queen still has some life in her career when working with him. Michelle Bauer in 1981 was the Penthouse Magazine Pet Of The Month for July. This helped her get roles in some pornographic films like Cafe Flesh, Nightdreams and Bad Girls, but during this time she used the name Pia Snow and the story goes she used a double during the sex scenes. But her break in films came when her centerfold for Penthouse segment aired on the Playboy Channel and director Fred Olen Ray spotted her and gave her an audition that lead to her acting in his film called “The Tomb” in 1986. This team up kicked off a film acting boom for the actress as she stared in such films as Nightmare Sisters, Reform School Girls, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Evil Toons, Vampire Vixens From Venus, Attack Of The 60 Foot Centerfold to name a few. It was in 1998 when Bauer teamed with Jess Franco on a few films that included Mari-Cookie And The Killer Tarantula and Lust For Frankenstein, and after that she went on to be in films like Gingerdead Man 2, Voodoo Dollz, The Naked Monster, Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps and even starring along Paul Naschy in the final Waldemar Daninsky film called Tomb Of The Werewolf! Bauer at the age of 55 is still acting and still thrilling her fans with all her talents. I first seen Michelle Bauer in the film Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and became a quick fan as she ran around in shots topless wielding a chainsaw and looked not only sexy but also zany crazy! Michelle Bauer became one of the actresses that when I went shopping for Horror Films on VHS that if her name was attached I would buy it. Here is to you Michelle Bauer for being an icon in the world of Scream Queens and for all the films that you have made that has entertained us for many years. Below is some great pics of Bauer to show you just how beautiful she is.
The 1998 Jess Franco film Lust For Frankenstein was a shot on video sleaze horror film that was released on VHS and DVD via Shock-O-Rama Cinema and is about Frankenstein’s Daughter who is getting visited by the ghost of her father who wants her to take control of the family castle and restore honor to the family name. While going back to the castle she sees the sleazy way her step mom is acting and also finds Goddess, her father’s latest “monster” who is a nude female with the body parts of both man and woman! They fall in love and rid the castle of the nasty sleaze. I first saw this film on DVD as I bought it from Suncoast in the Dayton Mall. I thought to myself, it can’t be bad as it was directed by Franco and starred Romay, Bauer and Newman the later two were even on the cover looking all hot….but boy was I wrong as the film was a boring mess that looked like it was shot on a consumer camera that was bought on sale at Wal-Mart that was the display unit. The films acting and dubbing was terrible as was the blood and gore and the sex scenes making this a film that missed at every thing it tried to do. I could forgive the fact that most of the nudity came from the aging actresses Romay and Bauer, but what I could not forgive is the terrible script and the dumb look to the rasta bleeding head ghost of Dr. Frankenstein. It would be safe to say that I downright hated the film and found it to be a film that almost seemed phoned in by Franco and its cast, I even lent the film to my friend Jason Gilmore who also disliked it, in fact I cant think of one of my friends who are into Euro-Sleaze movies that did like it! So you can imagine when in 2013 I found out that a comic book adaptation of the film was made how much shock I had and to add more puzzlement it was a photo comic….why…why was this made and who was to blame…Draculina.
Draculina is a Magazine in the same vein as Scream Queen Illustrated that showcases the sexy woman of B-Movies in photos and articles. The magazine would also do some reviews as well as interviews with filmmakers and actors. Draculina later also got into making comic books as well as some side magazines like Oriental Cinema and Sirens Of Cinema. Growing up my brother nor I ever had a Draculina Magazine nor do I ever remember seeing them on a news stand, in fact I think now and days they no longer print the magazine they take the lame digital only route. In fact I really don’t know much about this Magazine and I could find very little info on the web to try and learn about it so with that just know they are to blame for the Franco Photo Comics!
To be honest readers, I am not looking forward to reading this comic and can only imagine it being just as bad as the movie. But maybe, just maybe, the comic will be good or at least entertaining. Plus when else would I get to talk about Franco and Romay. So I need to thank my friend Andy Copp for this comic, and I want to remind everyone once again I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. So let’s head to Frankenstein’s Castle and spend some time with Goddess and try and enjoy the ride that is a photo comic.
Lust For Frankenstein # 1 *
Released in 1999 Cover Price $4.95 Draculina Comics #3 of 4
Moira Frankenstein is the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein, and after his death she is visited by his spirit who tells her that she must listen to his records and find the Goddess to set the family’s name straight. Moria is puzzled by his message but goes to the castle to find that her stepmom Abigail has turned it into a house of decay as she sleeps with everyone from the paper guy to the creepy sleezy gardner! While her mother screws around, Moira sits inside her father’s old study and listens to his records and finds out that Goddess is really a naked female monster who is built with both male and female parts…if ya know what I mean, and I am sure you do. Moira finds out that Goddess is her love slave and that they will work together to clean up the castle and kill Abigail and her lovers. When killing them, Goddess drains them of their power. Moira goes out and tricks a stripper to come to the castle to feed her more power, but Goddess has her eye on a woodcutter and Moira finds her checking him out. The two make love as they watch him chop logs, then go back and drain the life out of the stripper, and this makes Goddess more powerful. The comic ends with Moira tricking her soon to be ex-husband into coming to the castle where he is killed by Goddess, and the two ladies live together happily, in their minds, restoring the Frankenstein name to honor.
The photo Comic is just as bad as the film and crams an already poor story into photos on cheap black and white pages. Moria, in the comic, comes off as a self centered woman who seems to do whatever her bloody headed ghost dad tells her. She seems not to care about lives as she shows no remorse for killing her stepmom, a stripper and whoever else stands in her way of love and “honor”. I mean I get the fact she is supposed to be a little crazy as she has the blood of Dr. Frankenstein in her veins, but she just isn’t likable in the comic at all. Goddess is very robotic and just does what she is told by both Moria and Frankenstein’s Ghost. She could be one of the worst of Frankenstein’s monsters as she really doesn’t do much besides break some necks and make love. Frankenstein’s Ghost is also crazy and also self centered and only thinks mostly of his own legacy. The rest of the characters are throw aways and none of them make an splash on the reader, making each of the side characters’ deaths have very little impact and mean very little. The comic’s plot also just seems very blah and leaves a sense of wow this could have been so much more if the makers of the comic did actual art and added something more to the story. The comic has ZERO art, and I guess I could say that the photos chosen are well selected, but I can’t stress enough that they should have done actual art and made this comic something more and better than the film it was based on. Instead we just got a half assed comic that by no means is worth the $4.95 price tag placed on it. Over all I would say that this comic was pretty bad and its only charm is the fact it’s based on a Franco film and has pictures of boobs…but those two things don’t make this a good comic at all, I would say skip reading this.
I hate to say it, but I think Lust For Frankenstein could be the worst comic I have read here at Rotten Ink thus far. It just felt so lazy and uninspired. So to get the bland taste of this comic out of my mouth, I am going to order some pizza….thinking Dominos…but wait, that means I will have to try and avoid the Noid who is the topic of our next update..so make sure to check it out. It will be like we are having one big pizza party! So until next time, make sure to watch a good horror film, read a good horror inspired comic, watch and support your local horror host and just enjoy life.