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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jess Franco's DEMONS (Redemption/Kino Blu-ray) - Sexy Nuns in Satan's Service

If the 1970's taught us anything, it is that sleaze, when filmed well, can actually tell a story and still manage to excite you. While we've been featuring some out and out adult films as of late with the Vinegar Syndrome, it's nice to get back to Jesus...just in time for Easter too! Of course we are talking about Mr. Franco. Jess Franco. With Franco's passing this past year, his catalog is exploding onto disc. The best of these are being preserved lovingly by Redemption and Kino Lorber through a continuing series that features some challenging cinema. Franco's Demons, not to be confused with Lamberto Bava's cult 80's classic, is erotic and symbolic with hints of true satire and stands as a fine critique and condemnation of Catholicism. The hypocrisy and the smarmy lies that envelope the dogma that breaches love one minute followed by medieval tests of torture. It is not the first nunsploitation film. It is not the first movie to feature witchhunters tracking their prey through religious halls, but it is an exceptional example of both.

Synopsis from Redemption Films:

In the wake of the massive controversy surrounding Ken Russell's The Devils, several filmmakers rushed to create their own Inquisition horror films, inspired by the true story of satanic possession at the convent of Loudun. THE DEMONS(Les démons) is Jess Franco's stellar entry in the nunsploitation canon, with a degree of sadism and sexual explicitness that overshadows its competitors.

While being burned at the stake, an accused witch curses the principal witchfinder and his minions. As a result, members of royalty and the religious establishment are caused to suffer (or, some might say, enjoy) a series of human depravities. Franco photographs the scenes of torture, sex, and demon possession with a sense of tenderness that is both aesthetically pleasing and deeply unsettling.

Trailer:


After enjoying Demons, the first thing I thought of was how varied the music is. It jumps from short but sweet string session to bouncy prog jazz and then back to a dark, melodic suspense driven dirge. I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoyed Jean-Bernard Raiteux score, but I hope that you pay attention to it while enjoying the picture. As the movie progresses the music shifts and worms around frames creating moods and invoking emotion out of a variety of similarly framed shots and somewhat redundant, though not unpleasant content. You will see the "naked butt to head" shot over and over again. You probably won't complain.

Like any good Franco picture, this one is filled with voluptuous women, lesbians, nuns, complete with pure go go bodies and primo pubic hair crested genitalia. It is intentional. You are supposed to go through cycles of supreme erotic elation that, when cast against the violent torture during the witch tests, seems to unsettle you just a bit more. One minute your ready to forget the movie for some heavy petting with your significant other, the next you'll be waiting for the screams of pain and fear to stop. It's not precisely scary save for the historic concept that this kind of thing may not have been completely without place. In that sense it is a more cerebral picture. We discuss Franco as though he is a merchant of filth, but that's not entirely true. Yes, he knows what his audience wants and has made his share of overly erotic softcore pornography, but a movie like Demons balances that with strong performances no matter how overacted or melodramatic. In this instance we see that his use of balance, of bouncing between extreme pleasure and pain is more like a game of sexual domination the cinema.

Franco's Demons is newly mastered in HD from 35mm elements. It contains optional German and English subtitles, an interview with Franco, six minutes of deleted material and two trailers for Demons as well as a host of others.2.35:1 1920x1080p The picture is good overall with clarity, unsmeared by an overzealous DNR finger and perfectly grained. It's a great looking cover and the disc itself features a simple, easy to use menu with few options.

Those familiar with Franco's films especially those who enjoy his pictures will find this to be on par with some of his greatest films, and is this happens to be one of my favorites along with Virgin Among the Living Dead (also available through Redemption). It happens to also be one of my favorite if not my most beloved of nunsploitation films. The Devils is fantastic, but I find this to be more my speed. It beats up Killer Nun. It's an enjoyable witchhunter picture as well though I'm not entirely certain if I think it stands up against Mark of the Devil or Witchfinder General. It's simply not gory and it does lack familiar faces (not like Mark with Udo Kier and Witchfinder with Price).

I may not be a Franco expert, but I like what I like, and Demons is a true standout from movies I've seen in his expansive catalog.

Demons will be available April 29th. Order your copy now and enjoy the hot steamy debauch.

-Doc Terror

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