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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Hot Nights of Linda (Severin Films): A Map of the Female Body that Leads to Jesus

Sometimes I love you, Jess Franco, and then sometimes I have to walk away shaking my head. It’s not that I disliked The Hot Nights of Linda by any means. I loved it. It’s an erotic masterpiece filled with slow and steady, suspense… but erotic suspense. That means you’re waiting for the naked reveal and to see how far the pervy rabbit hole goes. There’s romance, plenty of perfect groomed-to-poof pubic mounds of glorious jungle that no machete could ever hack through and photography that is simply beautiful. I’m shaking my head because who truly believes a banana being munched upon is sexy. It’s not. It’s mushy and yucky. I get the whole phallic imagery/mock felating of a piece of fruit. Hardy Har Har. Dr. fucking Freud, pagers are way out of style, here’s a goddamn cell phone. I bet I’m in the minority on this one though; somehow a beautiful woman munching on a banana probably turns you on. It’s actually quite funny to me, so maybe Franco was trying to be a funny guy. Maybe he just digs fruit. I’m no one to judge. I have a pubic hair fetish to be rivaled by some men’s foot fetishes, and I actually enjoy the whole smoking fetish thing as well even though I’m a former smoker who can barely stand the smell now. That’s enough about me. Let’s talk about Linda and Lina and sexy hot nights of dire debauch and strange servitude.

Synopsis from Severin Films:

Alice Arno (of JUSTINE DE SADE fame) stars as a secretary sent to the seaside estate of a depraved millionaire, his nymphomaniac daughter (Franco’s beloved muse Lina Romay), her invalid cousin and their grunting houseboy. But when her day’s work ends, a nightmare of depraved new duties will begin!

So this is a recently discovered 35mm print that looks just great. Sounds just great. It’s really a beautiful print, and it’s fitting that this one makes it to Blu-ray in the shadow of Franco’s demise this past year. A nice size chunk of his catalog is seeing resurgence whether through Severin Films or the Redemption label. It’s a pleasure to be able to examine his body of work on a higher definition format than the bootleg VHS of yesterday.

I love when Franco uses traditional narrative, and I would say that this qualifies. Often times, Franco will play Mr. Avant Garde director and just throw together a pile of pretty scenes leaving the story to chance or to the audience’s interpretation. Sometimes there is not story, just sex… not pornography but erotic art film. While this has elements of each shooting style for which Franco is known and loved, it’s cohesive. You can get from points A to B with relatively little thought or interpretation. There’s plenty of intrigue to balance the bodies on screen. If you’re not watching The Hot Nights of Linda with a hand in your pants, then you aren’t watching it correctly. On the same note, if you finish watching Linda and you’re tissue box is empty and you can’t figure out what happened to your Jergens, you’ll have missed out on a subtle suspense classic that paints the picture of a life less moral, more Libertine.

The Severin package is a DVD/Blu-ray Combo pack with additional disc for the an alternate banana take of the film. The features are as voluptuous as Lina Romay (the true love of Senor Franco) and Veronica Llimera (of Tombs of the Blind Dead fame). There’s an interview with the master himself, Jess Franco, as well as a separate interview with Romay and Franco discussing the film. You get outtakes, trailer and even the presentation of the Fantastic Fest Lifetime Achievement Award to our beloved maestro. Stephen Trower of Nightmare USA drops in to provide some discussion as well. That’s a packed disc. This is a true fan experience, brilliant classic packaging and pure Severin delight. This company knows how to satiate the Eurocine fan.

I’m going to recommend this to Franco-philes. That’s an obvious one. Lina Romay obsessed fans… this one has your name on it. If you enjoy Eurocine… this is for you. If you like beautiful bushed naked women and a provocative story, Severin has the movie for you. I realize I sound like a filthy old coot when I say it like that. The Hot Nights of Linda came out at a time where eroticism in film was a relatively unopened door, that Franco and a few other truly visionary filmmakers were trying to bridge the gap between exploitation, pornography and art. This is a near perfect meeting of those worlds. While I cannot offer you a better grasp of where this movie stands in the frame of Franco’s full career, it’s a good place to begin for fans of his more horrific work to jump into his softer side.

Pick up this gorgeous Severin Films release NOW! Available also at DiabolikDVD.

-Dr. TERROR

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