Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Les avaleuses (1973)

... aka: Aroused Passions
... aka: Bare Breasted Countess, The
... aka: Black Countess, The
... aka: Comtesse aux seins nus, La
... aka: Comtesse noire, La
... aka: Erotic Kill
... aka: Erotikill
... aka: Erotikill: Lady Dracula 2
... aka: Insatiable Lust
... aka: Jacula (Yacula)
... aka: Last Thrill, The
... aka: Loves of Irina, The
... aka: Sicarius - the Midnight Party

Directed by:
Jesus Franco

If you're a fan of Spanish actress Lina Romay's nude scenes, are a Jess Franco film completist or just looking for something with a lot of full female nudity, you may want to check this out. Others are warned to steer clear of this virtually plot-less and incredibly slow-going vampire-sex film. The Image DVD I viewed (titled Female Vampire) is just one of many different cuts that have been released. Some versions are reduced in length with added horror scenes (such as the one titled Erotikill, except in Germany where the same title has explicit sex scenes [confusing, ain't it?]), and others emphasize the sex aspect (such as The Loves of Irina, which may be identical to the cut released by Image under the listed title). Several of the alternate titles (Aroused Passions, Insatiable Lust, etc.) have added hardcore scenes of the lady vamp sucking more than just blood. In fact, that's the same premise of the Female Vampire cut (the countess claiming victims by sucking out their life force via oral sex), except we don't actually get to see that done in a graphic fashion. In any case, this one's a very minor and almost amateurish effort for the director, complete with monotonous scenes of people walking around endlessly, horribly written dialogue and voice-over narration, people lounging in bed, people driving around in cars and sex / nude scenes that seem to go on for an eternity. It will certainly try the patience of most viewers, especially those looking for a horror film.

Romay plays the title role; mute, blank-eyed vampire Countess Irina Karlstein, who is the last living member of her family and has just ventured onto the island of Madeira, which I think is off the coast of Portugal. She's first seen wandering around in the woods wearing only a belt and an open cape. The camera pans up and down, the zoom goes in and out, it goes from focus to out-of-focus, and the same irritating "technique" will basically be repeated throughout the entire film. In one close-up shot she even clearly bumps her head into the camera! Irina finds a guy to seduce in broad daylight (guess she's no normal vampire) and gives him a deadly blow job while he leans up against a chain length fence. Then she flaps her cape and is suddenly driving around in a car, complete with a bat hood ornament with flapping wings. Through voice over we get to hear her thoughts as she bitches about how she's miserable and hopes her reign as a vampire will come to an end already. Apparently she's a celebrity too because a bikini-wearing journalist (Anna Watican) wants to interview her for a piece that will appear in all the major news publications in Europe and the United States. She starts her interview by stating "I know that you're a mute but I also know that you can hear very well." This is followed by such probing questions as "Do you feel ill-at-ease being the descendant of a family of vampires?"

Irina claims a second victim; hotel masseur / gigolo Raymond Hardy, then a third (the journalist) and has a long sex scene with each. Her hulking manservant (Luis Barboo) disposes of the bodies for her. She takes another naked stroll through the woods, then goes home and starts humping a bed post and a pillow. She encounters two sadistic lesbians (Alice Arno and Monica Swinn) who like to chain women up to walls and whip them, and becomes romantically involved with a guy (played by Jack Taylor) drawn to the supernatural aura of the island. Cut between these scenes are even more boring ones featuring the director himself as Dr. Roberts. He performs an (off-screen) autopsy on the first victim ("He was bitten in the middle of an orgasm and the vampire sucked his semen and his life away!") and spends most of his time sitting at a desk across from either a police detective or blind, strange phenomena expert Dr. Orloff (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou), who feels up a corpse to try to locate bite marks on her clitoris. Yikes.

Sprinkled throughout are shots of misty forests, the sky, water skiers, birds flying around, a zoom in on water in a swimming pool, etc. There are a few effective artistic touches here and there, but it moves at a snail's pace and becomes so overwhelmingly boring at times you may even start fast-forwarding through all of the sex scenes.


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