Is it porn?
is it exploitation? Or is it Franco?
I can''t help asking these questions while watching most
of Franco''s movies from the late seventies, early
eighties. And this one is a good example of this period
in his career.
If you have seen Vampyros Lesbos or Female Vampire
(a.k.a. Erotikill) you basically know the story. In
Vampyros Lesbos there''s a stunning vampire girl (Soledad
Miranda) who rather sucks the blood out of other females
than out of men and in the end dies.
In Female Vampire there''s the same eternally young girl
this time sucking on genitalia instead of necks to keep
her youth and satisfy her hunger. She also dies in the
end, although she commits suicide if I remember
correctly. Alternate versions of this movie have the
vampire girl actually drinking blood to bypass
Doriana Grey, filmed 3 years later and again featuring
the ravishing Lina Romay playing lead, basically
recycles the same story but doesn''t make any
Doriana Grey, an eternal youth, is living all alone up
in a castle with her mute servant and keeps her youth by
sucking the life out of innocent girls with the
occasional man on the menu. In the end she satisfies
herself and dies, floating in a small swimming pool,
just as the Female Vampire dies playing with herself in
a bath filled with blood.
This brings me back to my three basic questions.
Is it porn?
Sure, it is. I wouldn''t call this family entertainment.
You get a lot of masturbation scenes (and I mean a
lot!), a couple of lesbian scenes and some man-woman
action. There are extreme close-ups of female genitalia
and scenes that can only be considered as hardcore porn.
On the other hand, most of the sexual partners of Miss
Grey die and she is not having any fun, at least,
according to the story she''s not supposed to have. I''m
not an expert on porno-storylines but I don''t find it
very erotic to see people die after having sex. So, in
some way, this is hardly an erotic movie.
Is it exploitation?
Definitely. It is a prima example of seventies erotic
cinema from the seventies. It might not be very erotic
nowadays, but it was shot to be.
Is it Franco?
Affirmative. Although it''s more explicit than earlier
Franco movies, it still contains some of his trademarks:
Out-of-focus camera work. Many scenes have Franco play
with the focus,
making many parts very confusing and giving it a
Zoom in - zoom out. Franco has often been critized for
using the zoom
lens too often. Others defend the director, saying he
only did that during a short period of his career (i.e.
1968-1971). Still, in this movie there''s a lot of
zooming going on.
Completely useless shots. This is one of my favorite
the ability to move the camera to a completely useless
part of the scenery, focusing on rain pouring down or a
leaf against the dark sky. This can be explained by
Franco''s own words, claiming to be a voyeur. He doesn''t
only focus on female genitalia, he''s also a voyeur of
the beauty of the ordinary world.
Storyline. I''ve already discussed the similarity between
this movie and
other Franco movies like Vampyros Lesbos and Female
Vampire, but there''s more. He frequently uses characters
that are mute or have a speaking disability (e.g. Lina
Romay plays a mute vampire in Female Vampire), in
Doriana Grey the servant is a mute who used to be a
protest singer (!); a girl locked in asylum,
telepathically connected to someone in the outside
world. This can be traced back to Murnau''s Nosferatu,
but it is also a recurring storyline in Franco''s movies.
And then there''s the doctor in the asylum who goes by
the name of Dr. Orlof, a name you''ll find as early as
1959 (The Awful Dr. Orlof). Dr. Orlof in turn seems like
a reference to Murnau''s Nosferatu again (Count Orlok).
So in the end, what have I just seen? A typical Franco
movie who continues to move towards pure sex movies and
leaving the horror genre altogether, keeping up with the
zeitgeist. Definitely a must for Franco fans but not a
very good place to start.
One last word: the DVD, released by the producer Erwin
C. Dietrich, has been completely restored, cleaned up
and digitally mastered and looks perfect in every way.
This is how they should treat all movies before
transferring them to DVD.