Saturday, May 26, 2018

Mil sexos tiene la noche (1984)

... aka: Night Has a Thousand Desires
... aka: Night Has a Thousand Eyes
... aka: Night of 1,000 Sexes

Directed by:
Jess (Jesus) Franco

Rubenesque psychic medium "The Grand Irina" (Lina Romay) is one half of a popular nightclub act where her partner "The Great Fabián" (Daniel Katz) blindfolds her, puts her in a trance and then goes around the audience getting various things from them and having Irina identify them in detail. After accurately naming off key chains, rings and cards right down to their inscriptions, Fabián approaches a shady-looking, chain-smoking man and his two female companions. The man hands him a white piece of paper with some writing on it. Irina identifies that writing as "You have only a few hours to live." The audience gasps, but nothing comes of it... at least not right away. Later that night in their hotel room, Fabián confesses that he's sick of traveling around Europe from club to club and staying in hotel rooms. Despite the fact Irina saved him from the streets prior to them developing their act, he's now over her too and ends their relationship.

After a sex dream involving her with the nightclub mystery man (Mauro Rivera) and his female friends (Alicia "Pedreira" / Príncipe and "Mamie Kaplan" / Mari Carmen Nieto), Irina wanders out of her hotel room the following morning. A deep male voice calling out her name and telling her to "Obey!" leads her to the lobby, where Lorna (Carmen Carrión) awaits. Lorna, who appears to be some kind of witch, then sends her out to do a little favor, which involves seducing and then stabbing alcoholic jazz pianist / singer Jamal (Albino Graziani) to death during sex. Jamal was previously seen arguing with the club manager about wanting out of his contract. That may or may not have anything to do with his murder. When Irina wakes up, she's back in her room thinking everything that transpired was only a nightmare. Maybe it was. Maybe not.

Despite their previous conversation about breaking up, Irina and Fabián still share a bed, still sleep together naked and kind of act like they hadn't even had the earlier conversation. Irina complains that he's been sexually neglecting her as of late and asks him to make love but they're interrupted by a mysterious phone caller who insists Fabián leave to tend to "business." Irina is then back to having sex with the same three people in her earlier "dream" while they pass a joint around and we hear echoing, distorted moaning in an incredible scene that's the highlight of the entire film. These are the moments Franco fans patiently slog through the more tedious moments to get to.

Receiving mixed signals from her boyfriend and no longer able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, Irina begins seeing psychiatrist Dr. Karmen (played by the director). He ends up not being of much help and Irina soon finds herself seducing a young man (José Llamas), luring him back to her room for a little balcony sex and then castrating him. Or did she? I wish I could say the final explanation for Irina's troubles was a shocking revelation but, unfortunately, Franco decided it was a good idea to reveal exactly what was going on at an earlier stage of the film. That results in a narrative that's painfully predictable, though he finds some other stylistic ways to surprise us.

In between the sex and nude scenes (which aren't quite as crudely shot as in many of the director's other sex films), we get endless shots of Romay writhing in bed naked, riding around in a car or wandering the hotel corridors and gardens in a daze in scenes very reminiscent of CARNIVAL OF SOULS, right down to the music. There are countless shots of the coastline, pretty flowers, trees and some pastel stained glass windows Franco seems enamored with. The camera shoots blood splatter on a window for several minutes; close-up and far, sometimes in focus, sometimes not. It also keeps zooming into eyeballs and pans or tilts up to the sky for seemingly no reason at all. At times, some bizarre sound effects are added, like a train whistle when water is shown and what sounds like geese honking (!) while showing a helicopter flying around.

Often times Franco's flourishes are self-indulgent and laughable. Every once in awhile they're brilliant. But they're distinctive and almost always at least interesting if you appreciate such things. If you simply don't care, you'll likely just find this vacant, padded and insufferably slow-paced. The entire film feels like Franco got some money together, invited a bunch of his friends to a picturesque beach resort for a week and then decided to play around a bit with his camera. He also wrote it, did the morose music score (as "Pablo Villa"), shot it (as "Joan Almirall") and edited (sans credit).

The shrink word association scene and Fabián keeping a copy of the Necronomicon as bedtime reading material allude back to Franco's Succubus (1968), though this is actually a partial remake of the director's Les cauchemars naissent la nuit (1970; Nightmares Come at Night). It was given a long-overdue DVD and blu-ray release in 2016 by Mondo Macabro.


Horror Hall of Fame, The (1974) (TV)

... aka: ABC's Wide World of Entertainment: The Horror Hall of Fame
... aka: Horror Hall of Fame: A Monster Salute,The

Directed by:
Charles Braverman

Here's a real curio item from years ago: A videotaped TV production which debuted on the late night variety program ABC's Wide World of Entertainment and seems to have been filmed in front of a live studio audience. It's a fun, silly and dated (cue Let's Make a Deal, Kay Ballard and Liberace jokes!) yet informative, 70-minute salute to the horror genre. Our host, the delightful and enthusiastic Vincent Price, shows up on a graveyard set to open things with a pun-filled comic monologue. His hunchback sidekick Zuckman (a funny Billy Van, from the Canadian series The Hilarious House of Frightenstein) is the curator of the Horror Hall of Fame and foil for many of the jokes. Price enters "The Horror Hall of Fame Room," whose walls are adorned with pictures of his "old fiends" Lon Chaney, Lon Chaney Jr., Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre ("The lord high minister of all that is sinister") and Bela Lugosi. He then sits down for a chat with our first or several special guests; comedian Frank Gorshin, who does great impressions of Lugosi's Dracula, Karloff's Frankenstein Monster and The Mummy (if played by John Wayne). Price calls Karloff a brave and wonderful man and says even though he was badly crippled in his later years, he loved the genre so much that he'd get out of wheelchair just long enough to do his scenes.

Next up is a trip to a "special wing" of the mansion, which honors more recent horror stars such as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Price himself, and then we get to see scenes from The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Blacula (1971) and The Exorcist (1973). Off to the laboratory Price goes to have a chat with Dr. Murray Frankenstein (Ivor Barry), who promises us a monster by the end of the show. Price then goes on to discuss classic silent horror films, and we see clips of such films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), The Golem (1920), Nosferatu (1922), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). The next guest is John Carradine, who discusses doing one of the very first horror plays on Broadway ("The Duchess of Malfi"), says he turned down the role of the Monster in Frankenstein and claims John Barrymore's pet vulture liked to get right in his face because of his "alcoholic breath."

John Astin shows up to discuss how psychiatrists found The Addams Family to be the healthiest family on television (which isn't hard to believe), look at some horror merchandise (including a copy of creative consultant Forrest J. Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland, "one of the world's best selling magazines") and move into clips from the short Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969) and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970). In the dungeon, Price encounters special make-up fx artist William Tuttle, whom he says won the first ever Oscar awarded for make-up (an honorary award in 1965 for his work on 7 Faces of Dr. Lao). Tuttle discusses his first ever job on Mark of the Vampire (1935) and is given an assignment to transform up-and-coming actress Candy Clark into a monster.

Raymond T. McNally, author of In Search of Dracula, is up next to talk about the history of vampires and where all of the mythology stems from. Astin comes back to do a This Is Your Life style segment on Price, where he says The Raven (1963) was the most fun he had shooting a film and how Theatre of Blood (1973) was "the best horror movie I ever made." Astin then reads a Kevin Thomas (of the Los Angeles Times) quote praising the movie and saying if horror films were taken seriously in America like they were the rest of the world, the film would win an Oscar. We then get a clip from the soon-to-be-released Madhouse (1974).

Throughout, we see great clips from Mad Love (1935), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), House of Wax (1953), Them! (1954), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), The Blob (1958), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) and Schlock (1973). According to this special, from 1897 to 1973 there had been "over 7 thousand pure horror movies made." This was never issued on video, but you can see the whole thing over on Youtube.

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