Director Jess Franco’s VAMPYROS LESBOS has been dubbed by some as “the Holy Grail of cult cinema.” I had heard of the film several times over the years, but I never found a copy to give a look. When I heard Severin Films was remastering the film and releasing it on Blu-ray, I immediately put it on my To Find list. Thankfully, the fine folks at Severin saw fit to grace me with a review copy, and I’m so glad they did. This film epitomizes Franco’s legacy of exploitation and Eurotrash flicks. If you are a fan of these genres, then this film is a must-have for your collection.
If you are not familiar with VAMPYROS LESBOS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films:
From Jess Franco, the filmmaker The Vatican called the most dangerous director in the world , comes the most celebrated movie of his legendary career: Stunning Soledad Miranda stars as a vixen vampire who lures women to a Mediterranean island to satisfy her insatiable lust for female flesh and blood. It s a mind-bending odyssey of surreal erotica and 70s EuroHorror, featuring the psycho-sexadelic soundtrack that remains a global phenomenon. Ewa Strömberg (SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY), Dennis Price (VENUS IN FURS), Paul Muller (NIGHTMARE CASTLE) and Franco himself co-star in this landmark cult classic, now remastered in HD and featuring all-new Extras filmed with the director shortly before his death. Experience Franco’ masterpiece like you’e never seen or heard it before!
Before I continue, I have to confirm the title: yes, it is translated as ‘Lesbian Vampires’. Not very controversial by today’s standards, but look at the time period in which the film was made. Homosexuality was not as accepted back then as it is today, therefore the title alone was enough to send people into a fury about this film.
VAMPYROS LESBOS is shot fairly well, however you almost have to be an existing fan of Franco’s work to enjoy much of it. I say this because the film is Franco’s first venture into his own style of cinematography. There are many odd shots of abstract things which (if you look closely) do fit with the film. There’s even some symbolism in regard to what he shows onscreen.
With that being said, this is not really a horror flick. It’s meant to be (I think), but there’s no scares and, if I’m being honest, the blood looks horrible, like someone popped a ketchup packet somewhere. Still, the film is very entertaining and held my attention the entire time.
The acting in VAMPYROS LESBOS is so-so, but people don’t generally watch exploitation flicks like this for the performances. The beautiful and sensuous Soledad Miranda is always welcome onscreen, and she revels in this portrayal of Dracula’s lover. Ewa Stromberg and the rest of the cast do ok for the most part, however their cardboard characters are part of what makes the film so fun.
VAMPYROS LESBOS is a win for me, and I recommend it…however it won’t be a film for everyone. Connoisseurs of Franco’s work will definitely want to snatch this version up; the HD transfer for the Blu-ray looks amazing, and the sound quality is great as well. In addition to the high quality picture and sound, this two-disc Special Limited Collector’s Edition includes a variety of Special Features, like:
Disc 1 (Blu-Ray):
* Newly remastered HD presentation of the feature in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
* “Vampyros Jesus”: Interview featurette with Director Jess Franco
* “Sublime Soledad”: Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown
* “Stephen Thrower on Vampyros Lesbos”: Interview with Author of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’
* “Jess Is Yoda” Clip
* Alternate German Opening Title Sequence – ‘Dracula’s Heiress’
* German Trailer
Disc 2 (DVD):
* Las Vampiras – Alternate Spanish Language VHS Version With Optional English Subtitles
This film hits store shelves next Tuesday, so make a note.