Thursday, June 7, 2012

R.I.P: Lina Romay, Part III

Please note: This blog entry includes a trailer embedded from Video Detective. The default settings at Video Detective are set so that embedded videos begin playing immediately. Thus, you will initially suffer an audio attack lasting about two minutes. Once the unpleasant cacophony has passed, the embedded objects can be enjoyed on a one-by-one basis. A Wasted Life apologizes for the idiocy of the default settings of Video Detective, but their videos embedded here are unavailable elsewhere:
 
On February 24, 2012, in honor of the demise of Lina Romay, the Spanish cult actress and muse of the infamous cult director Jess Franco, we here at A Wasted Life undertook to do a career review of her films. As Romay took part in and appeared in uncountable projects, many of which are lost or unavailable or simply undocumented on the web, our review of her life work is far from complete – but then, we do not strive for perfection, but only to give a certain insight to her career. As mentioned in Part II, we culled our list from that of imdb, a list that has already changed since we began this project. But as flawed as this review of films might be, it nevertheless offers a slight insight to the projects of Jess Franco's muse and life partner, the one and only Lina Romay
The first part of this career review is the blog entry of February 24, 2012, which you can find here.
The second part of this career review is the blog entry of May 30, 2012, which you can find here.


Bragueta historia
(1986, dir Jess Franco)
Another totally obscure porno film from Franco with Lina Romay in the cast, though the real "name star" seems to be the now-retired porn actress Barbara Moose, 'cause all the hardcore clips of the film found online tend to refer to her and not Romay (who we could not identify in any of the clips we bothered to watch). Trash Palace says the Spanish-language film is "rare" and about "a young doctor [who] tries to seduce every nurse in the clinic, and most often [he] does." Over at Super Strange Video, they misidentify the film as a re-release of Sinfonia Erotica (1980), but offer the same basic plotline: "Disturbing and extremely well made film concerning a deviant, sexually charged doctor in this often thought to be lost rarity directed by Jess Franco." The clips we watched reveal the film to be a typically unexciting and unappealing hardcore Franco porno film.


Alone Against Terror
(1986, dir. Jess Franco)
Spanish title: Sola ante el terror. Unbelievably enough, a Franco film from 1986 with Romay in it (billed again as "Candy Coster") that is not a badly made, highly un-erotic porno film. No, for some odd reason, it is a horror thriller... and, unbelievably enough, as the blogspot Quiet Cool* points out, "Sola ante el terror also boasts a complete and total absence of nudity." The rare book Obsession: The Films of Jess Franco also points out that the "Advertising material credits Katja Bienert, Ann Stern, and Karen Field (of Night of the Vampires [1964 / scene], The Alley Cats [1966 / trailer], The Mad Butcher [1971 / trailer], and Web of the Spider [1971 / full film in Italian]), but they don't appear in the film"; they fail to realize that "Ann Stern" is another pseudonym of "Mari Carmen Nieto", who plays one of the sisters (as "Mabel Escano"). In a massive understatement, Sideshow Video calls the film a "lesser-known thriller from the 80s", saying "This muddled thriller deals with a bizarre family that plots to drive a young girl crazy in order to gain her inheritance. (Sound familiar?)" Over at imdb, babycarrot67 of Columbus, Ohio, disagrees and, after pointing out that this film is a Franco remake of a Franco film, namely The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973),** states: "Alone Against the Terror is certainly one of Franco's better plot-driven efforts that relies on a script and matter-of-fact storytelling, something absent from a great deal of Franco's films. [...] A paralytic woman named Melissa (Romay) who is confined to bed, [is] cared for by her two sisters, played by Carmen Carrion and Mabel Escano, both frequent faces in Franco's 80s films. The sisters' father was strangely murdered when Melissa was a child. Eventually, Melissa grows to believe that her dead father is communicating with her and wants her to avenge his death by going after those responsible. [...] If you are a Franco fan who has friends who insist that he can make only porno films and that Lina Romay cannot act in a film unless she is butt-naked, then simply present this highly entertaining film in your defense and savor the victory, alone against the criticism. At this time, however, the film seems to be available only in Spanish language."
*One can't help but wonder if the blogger really means "quiet" cool, or rather meant "quite" cool and simply has never noticed the typo. 
**Which, in turn, is theoretically a remake of Franco's Nightmares Come at Night (1970 / trailer), which in turn was remade by Franco as Call of the Blonde Goddess (1977) and Night of 1,000 Sexes (1984). When to came to plotlines, Franco really knew how to milk the cow of the last drop.


Amazons in the Temple of Gold
(1986, dir. Alain Payet [as James Gartner])
Supposedly Franco did un-credited co-direction on this film which, in the end, reworks aspects of earlier Franco jungle films such as White Cannibal Queen (1980), Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (1983) and La esclava blanca (1985). Imdb claims the film is based on the short story Akagu Forbidden Temple by someone named Jeff Manner, failing to note that Manner is one of Franco less-used pseudonyms. The late Georges Friedland, who supplied the script to the cult Sybil Danning flick Panther Squad (1984 / trailer), supposedly adapted the script; Friedland, who died at the age of 83 in Paris, France, on December 23, 1993, had been in the business since the early-1930s and even directed a 1948 Édith Piaf film, Neuf garçons, un Coeur (Piaf singing Sophie, one of the songs from that film). Alain Payet, of course, is the celebrated director of the classics Hitler's Last Train (1977 / trailer) and Nathalie: Escape from Hell (1978 / trailer), not to mention dozens of "stimulating" videos. Amazons in the Temple of Gold is legendary for its craptastic qualities; DVD Drive-In says the film's "so-bad-it's-good factor is much higher than Diamonds of Kilimandjaro. [...] A black guy plays a native with terrible grey hair coloring to show that he's an aged version of an earlier native in a flashback. And his dubbed English dialogue is laughably racist!! The actresses playing the Amazon women look appropriately embarrassed and often smirk or crack smiles when not trying to deliver their dialogue. [...] Poor William Berger is unfortunately way past his prime and obviously slumming here in a barely-clothed role as the leader of the Amazon women." At imdb, blackdeath21 explains the film's appeal: "First of all the plot is insane. [...] The female Amazon warriors are played by Scandinavian white women, whose chief is a fat old man, who don't live in the Amazon, they're in Africa. [...] The 'Golden Temple' looked so cheap, the walls looked as if they taped gold tinfoil to them. The chief's chambers were obviously filmed in someone's house. [...] The greatest part of the movie was all the BOOBIES!! Oh glorious boobies. Every scene seemed to be filled with nothing but boobies, you couldn't hide from them. 82 minutes of BOOBIES!!" The plot? My Duck Is Dead says: "A missionary and his wife are killed by natives when they accidentally discover their golden temple, but his [sic] daughter is spared and is raised by the tribe. Fifteen years later, she seeks vengeance for her parents' murders and joins an expedition searching for the same golden temple." Lina is supposedly on hand for a cameo appearance, but who knows where...



Slave of Crime
(1987, dir. Jess Franco)
Original title: Esclavas del crimen. Lina Romay is there as assistant director and as the lead actress, playing an "exotic" exotic dancer (and crime lord). As the well-written review at the blog Praise.Rewind.Obsess. explains it: "This film, nearly his last gasp of 1980s playful ingenuity, represents Jess Franco's almost certainly unauthorized return to Sax Rohmer territory, long after his late 1960s work in the Fu Manchu and Sumuru film series. Set in the Far East, 'a paradise of drugs and corruption' (a title card informs us), it stars Lina Romay [...] as Suee, the daughter of Fu Manchu (Fah Lo Suee in the novels), who controls all the vice in her part of the world from a hotel stronghold (apparently protected by a single nearly-nude woman in a G-string holding a machine gun) and who complements her work as a kingpin (queenpin?) of crime with exotic dancing in one of her many nightclubs-cum-opium dens." Over at Cine Espanol, the computer translation of their Spanish language plot description reveals a slightly different take on the plot: "The daughter of a serial-killer doctor directs a group of slaves who abduct millionaires for his housekeeper."


Las chicas del tanga
(1987, dir. Jess Franco & "Candy Coster")
To paraphrase some Spanish-language site, this film, unavailable in English, is a "comedy dedicated to the Spanish summer in Benidorm starring most of Franco's acting 'troupe' of the 1980s. Three wacky couples make demented mischief in this fun, easy comedy. Jesús Franco provides the voice for a cross-dressing actor." Over at imdb, the ubiquitous Michael Elliott of Louisville, KY, is once again one of the few English-speaking people who has seemingly seen this film, though his comprehension of events was hampered by his inability to speak Spanish: "The film appears to be a comedy for the most part as we get countless men trying to impress various women. Most of the time we get the guys chasing the women around and making a fool of themselves. At other times we have them playing with each other, fighting or various other things. [...] 99% of the movie was dialog and it was impossible to follow everything that was going on with each relationship in the film. [...] I'd be shocked if any American company released this one because it's for Franco fans only. There's actually very little nudity on display here and the sex scenes never even reach a softcore level. It appears that the entire cast is having a good time and I must admit that the movie kept me interested even when I was completely lost. The film moved at a nice pace and it appeared everything was paying off quite well. [...] The final third of the picture pretty much takes place on the beach where various women are discussing things and showing off their bodies, which I'm guessing is where the title comes from." (The title, by the way, roughly translates into The Girls in Thongs.)


Falo Crest
(1987, dir. Jess Franco & Lina Romay)
Aka Phalo Crest. Porn–W.org is the only place we could find that supplies a plotline to this triple-X parody of the long-running late night soap opera Falcon Crest (1981–1990): "Angela Channing summons the members of her family to a meeting at Phallo Crest where she is growing special aphrodisiac oranges that 'taste of sex.' She now plans to market an aphrodisiac liqueur based on the crop and allows her family to sample the drink, with predictable results. And when you'll find out what's the secret behind Falo Crest's excellent wine, your wine drinking evenings will never feel the same..." My Duck Is Dead's commentary is taken, without credit, from a viewer's review at imdb. There, Pierre-Alexandre Buisson (robottears@hotmail.com) of Montreal, Quebec – that's in Canada, in case you don't know – says: "So what can we expect? Well, humor has never been absent from Franco's work, so be prepared to laugh. I've seen the Spanish version so I didn't get all the jokes, but overall the hardcore sex mixes well with the touching comedy moments [...]. A direct parody of Falcon Crest, this movie is brilliant porn, not so exciting but still very interesting. I've even spotted one of the zombies of Virgin among the Living Dead (1973) during the scene where Sado Sommers is raped." Michael Elliott of Louisville, KY, who sorta enjoyed the film, too, addendums his own review of the film with: "The revealing of what the wine is made of almost had me throwing up. What really keeps this film from being more enjoyable are the rather disgusting scenes that keep coming up from time to time." 


Phollastía
(1987, dir. Jess Franco & Lina Romay)
Aka Fellations sauvages. A triple-X take on yet another popular late night TV drama of the time, this time around Dynasty (1981-89). The DVD cover might not look like a Franco film, but "Betty Carter" is a pseudonym both he and Romay are known to have used; the headlining "Jean Collins" is Lina but, needless to say, the blonde on the cover isn't in the film. All on-line sources referring to this film simply swipe their commentary from imdb, so we thought we would, too. Tedg (tedg@FilmsFolded.com) of Virginia Beach blasts: "Let's face it, Jess Franco is [...] an intuitive, an oaf, an illiterate, an anti-intellectual. He's not like John Waters, who displays trailer trash. He IS trailer trash. He apparently does no planning for his movies and sort of makes them up as he goes, coming to work each day, using whoever shows up. [...] He's still making movies, over a hundred and fifty so far. Most of them have none of his magic in them and most of those, I think, weren't even made by him. That's because he usually doesn't even come to work, and his long-time companion runs the show, making movies that feature herself. It's the Yoko Ono deal run amok. Needless to say, she is trailer trash in the uninteresting sense, someone who believes vulvae are expressive. [This film is] made by the walking dead. [...] You can find something better to do with this part of your life." Michael Elliott – remember him? – of Louisville, KY, says: "Spanish director Jess Franco's hardcore spoof of Dynasty [...] is pure trash from start to finish. Franco has made some terrific erotic movies in his career but here he's just trying to be disgusting and he certainly does that. This film is rather hard to watch due to all the nasty stuff going on and I'm not talking about the sex scenes. There are plenty of hardcore sex scenes going on but it's pretty rough to enjoy any of them due to all the other stuff going on." But Pierre-Alexandre Buisson (robottears@hotmail.com) of Montreal, Quebec – that's in Canada, in case you don't know – demurs: "Here comes another cult TV series parody from a crazed little Spanish entertainer called Jesus Franco. [...] Kickin' off on an amusing note, the movie pushes the parody to a level where even the technical aspects are a mimic of the original series. All is well in the lusty family. Everyone screws secretly, until Jean Collins (Lina Romay) gets home and 'screws' everything up, throw your hands in the air, get naked and procreate. Problem is that apart from Lina (who's still getting old), all the other actresses are painfully ugly – one even wears what looks like monster make-up! Silly and a big laugh for Franco admirers, it ends with words of wisdom coming from Miss Romay's nice and round lips: 'In my family, we make good milk.' Hilarious."


Faceless
(1987, dir. Jess Franco)

Trailer:
Franco returns to "real" films to do a remake of the classic B&W art house horror film Eyes Without a Face (1960 / French trailer). And what a cast he has at hand! Romay – uncredited as assistant director – appears in a small part as Mrs. Orloff, but the rest of the cast also includes the reliable Howard Vernon (Succubus [1968 / Spanish trailer] and Zombie Lake [1981 / trailer]), the great character actor Anton Diffring (The Beast Must Die [1974 / trailer], Seven Dead in the Cat's Eye [1973 / trailer], Hexen geschändet und zu Tode gequält [1973 / trailer], The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire [1971 / trailer], Circus of Horrors [1960 / trailer] and The Man Who Could Cheat Death [1959 / trailer]), Caroline Munro (Slaughter High [1986 / trailer], The Last Horror Film [1982 / trailer], Maniac [1980 / trailer], Sharon's Baby [1975 / trailer], Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter [1974 / trailer], Dracula A.D. 1972 [1972 / trailer]), Telly Savalas (Horror Express [1972 / full film] and Lisa and the Devil [1974 / trailer]) and – of course – the headlining culty cast of Christopher Mitchum, Brigitte Lahaie and Helmut Berger (Salon Kitty [1976 / trailer]). As said on the blogspot Hammer and Beyond, "This eclectic mix of genuine film stars and film stars' sons, genre icons and scream queens, art-house muses and hardcore actresses must count as the most easily recognizable cast for mainstream audiences that shlockmeister Jess Franco ever managed to compile." The website Camp Blood thinks that "Faceless has it all: fashion shoots, drugged-out models, lesbian starlets, threesomes, graphic face removals, mongoloid rapists, cantankerous old biddies in wheelchairs, muscle men, gay photographers, Nazis, offspring of Hollywood royalty, and Telly Savales. And of course it's all expertly carried out with the garish palette, disregard for human dignity and excruciatingly bad dubbing that we have all come to expect from Italian, French and Spanish horror from the 1970s–90s. Which is to say, it was probably conceived and produced in its entirety by a can of hairspray and a kilo of primo cocaine. [...] It's [about] a plastic surgeon's woofed-out model sister with the viscous visage, thanks to a mis-thrown vial of acid tossed at the doctor by a disgruntled patient. Hedonistic Doctor Flamand (Helmut Berger) makes it his life's work to replace his sister's puss, no matter how many loose women he needs to flay in the process." Faceless: an unjustly unknown gore-heavy hidden gem of Franco's career.
15 Minutes of Faceless:


Esmeralda Bay
(1989, dir. Jess Franco)
Original title: La bahía esmeralda – another halfway "mainstream" low-budget flick from Franco in which he gives Romay a small part. For a change, the headlining Robert Forster (as "Madero") is not Franco's stock player Antonio Mayans using his favorite pseudonym "Robert Foster" but is actually the real Robert Forster (of Alligator [1980 / trailer] and Uncle Sam [1997 / trailer]) himself. (Antonio Mayans, however, does appear in the film, too.) 10K Bullets gives the plot as thus: "A civil war erupts between rebels and an oppressive government regime of a Central American country. Aiding the rebels in their fight is an arms dealer named Wilson (George Kennedy) who supplies the rebels with weapons. A corrupt Colonel (Forster) who is having an affair with Wilson's wife has been ambushing the last few shipments of arms." Ninja Dixon – a forgiving blogsite that distinguishes itself by being written in English by a foreigner who (seriously) can write better English than 90% of most native speakers, comments: "I have to admit that it's a bit boring in the beginning, but as soon as the intrigues start Esmeralda Bay becomes an involving thriller-drama with some nice stock footage action at the end. [...] Franco is an obvious hired gun here, to lead the ship to harbor in time (which he also does in the movie, in a cameo as captain of a boat) and make the producers happy. But with the time and money he had, and a great cast, he also delivers a good – if a bit generic – war drama with gorgeous cinematography [...]. There's really no depth in the story, but it's easy to see where Franco put his talent – in the drama parts. Few other movies can have such boring dialogue and still be interesting to watch." Featured in small parts: the unknown male of the Sheen/Estevez dynasty, Ramon Estevez, son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez; and the underappreciated, eternal second-string Brett Halsey. Helping Franco with the screenplay chores was the great Eurocine producer Daniel Lesoeur (as A.L. Mariaux) and H.L. Rostaine, the latter who assisted in giving the world Cannibal Terror (1981 / trailer) and Crimson, the Color of Blood (1976 / full film).


El abuelo, la condesa y Escarlata la traviesa
(1992, dir. Jess Franco)
Aka Scarlet. Little info can be found on the web about this film, which the website Theiapolis Cinema describes as an "action film directed by Jesus Franco". Seeing that the film is supposedly based on an (as far as we could tell non-existent) play by Octave Mirbeau supposedly entitled La servante maitresse, it is doubtful that the film is in any way action-packed. Franco, some of you might remember, already made a film based on a piece by Mirbeau way back in 1974, namely Celestine, Maid at Your Service; well, the only on-line sources we found on this film, whence the images shown were taken, were in Spanish, but all the write-ups featured stills from Celestine, Maid at Your Service. Imdb says the film was "shot around the Castellón province in the year of 1984, [but] authorized for distribution only in 1992, according to data available at Filmoteca española." A computer-generated translation of the synopsis at Film Affinity reveals the following: "Scarlet (Lina Romay) escapes from the clutches of her violent boyfriend and takes refuge in a barn. There she violates a Mexican named Rufus and then James, the Butler, who recommends her as a maid for the Countess. Scarlet is hired to care for the grandfather of the Countess, an old man prostrate in a bed that is happy as soon as he sees her. The arrival of Scarlet to the stale estate of the counts alters relations of all its inhabitants." OK, seems clear to us: El abuelo, la condesa y Escarlata la traviesa is Celestine, Maid at Your Service re-released, possibly even re-cut. Anyone know for sure?


Jungle of Fear
(1993, dir. Jess Franco)
A shot-on-video adventure film which, as far as we can tell, was never officially finished or released; imdb lists Charles Chaplin Jr (High School Confidential [1958 / Beat poetry from the film], Night of the Quarter Moon [1959 / opening credits], The Beat Generation [1959 / Vampira does Beat poetry], Girls Town [1959 / girls sing] and Sex Kittens Go to College [1960 / trailer]) as being part of the cast – one can only guess he plays a corpse, as he died 25 years earlier on 20 March 1968. But the film is indeed one of the last projects of its "name" star William Berger (Dr. M [1990], Dial: Help [1988 / trailer], Django 2: il grande ritorno [1987 / trailer], Keoma [1976 / trailer], and Sabata [1969 / trailer]), who died in LA soon thereafter. At I'm In A Jess Franco State Of Mind, Robert Morrell – who also put the clip from the work print embedded below on YouTube – says the film is yet another Franco adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Gold Bug (his first being the obscure 1983 kiddy kung fu flick, En busca del dragon dorado). Morrell says: "[Berger] plays the hunchback Dr. Quasimodo, who leads the expedition on the final leg of the search for the domain of the golden beetle. [...] Franco has talked of completing the project and shooting additional scenes, but at this stage that's unlikely to happen. [...] The mountains of the South Asian country are covered with dense rain forest. A cobra (a crude mock-up), scorpions and other jungle creatures infest the jungle floor as Machado (Antonio Mayans) cuts his way through the undergrowth toward a gold mine in the style of Indiana Jones. Suddenly, the giant beetle flies out of the hidden cave and attacks the neck of one of the adventurers, turning gold when satiated with blood. So begins Jungle of Fear. Besides Berger and Mayans the only other familiar face is Lina Romay who appears as an editor employed by a video producer who leads an expedition around the world in search of the valued bug, a crystal skull and a fortune in gold. Several other groups, including a team of thugs led by dominatrix, are also on the trail. The remainder of the cast is made of expatriate US actors who were working in Spain at the time and an amusing cameo by Uncle Jess himself who appears as a local guide who introduces himself with 'Me famous... like Michael Jackson.' [...] It's all in the spirit of those 1930s and 40s Hollywood jungle serials."
 Scene from the work print:


Ciudad Baja (Downtown Heat)
(1994, dir. Jess Franco)
Acting makes strange bedfellows. Who would have ever though that TV stalwart of the 70s & 80s Mike Connors (Too Scared to Scream [1985 / full film], Voodoo Woman [1957 / trailer], Swamp Women [1956 / full film] and Day the World Ended [1955 / trailer]) would ever end up in a Franco film? But here he is, in his second-to-last film, working for the Spanish auteur. Amazon.com gives a short and sweet synopsis of the plot: "A young jazz-composer turns vengeful commando against local drug Mafia Capos when his wife is killed at the hands of Caribbean drug dealers." Divine Exploitation offers a bit more detail: "This one plays pretty straight and the fact that it has Mike Connors in it just makes it that much better. Seems there's a guy out there poisoning people with drugs and people are overdosing and dropping like flies. A husband is trying to find his wife who had a tryst with another woman, a police detective is trying to do what's right and an American is there to extradite the head of one of the biggest drug cartels in Europe. There's action, a spattering of romance and some really twisted stuff in this little flick. [...] Lina Romay manages to keep her clothes on for the most part and actually, for a Franco flick, this is pretty chaste. There is one naked girl in one scene and that's it. I had to makes sure that I was watching a Franco flick!" Some dude named Michael Katims supposedly helped with the script; he went on to work on the dialog of the truly interesting 2006 Sci-fi film noir animation film Renaissance (2006 / trailer).


Tender Flesh
(1997, dir. Jess Franco)
(Like the Richard Corben artwork used for the video box? Think he ever got paid for it? Fat chance.) Franco returns ever-so-slightly to his 1974 take on that old chestnut The Most Dangerous Game (1932 / full film), The Perverse Countess, in this film which Mondo Digital says is a "comeback of sorts" and "a campy summation of the obsessions which ran through his outrageous '70s cult epics." The plot, according to frankfob2@yahoo.com at imdb: "A stripper (Amber Newman) and her sleazy boyfriend are invited by a wealthy woman (Romay) and her lover (Alain Petit) to join them on her private island for a weekend of sex games in exchange for a large fee. When the couple gets there, however, they are captured, and then let loose on the island to be hunted down and killed." Eccentric Cinema says "[...] Tender Flesh is far and away the most accomplished of his many One Shot films.* The story may be familiar, but the director works in some excellent touches and the film feels less impoverished than the ones that would follow. [...] Sensibly, Franco plays the story for laughs. Lacking the production facilities to really do the story justice, the director focuses on farcical and erotic vignettes, aiming for flat-out bad taste [...]. Luckily, the cast is appealing." Bring Out the Gimp clarifies the last: "Amber Newman and her copious nudity are the reasons to watch this movie. However, Monique Parent also stars, and she still looks fairly hot, although a little hard. [...] Lina Romay must have been about 44 when she filmed this, and she has looked much better. I could have done without her gratuitous hairy beaver shot. She also did a lot of licking and aggressive tongue kissing that was a bit off-putting. Kind of yuck. And finally there's Analia Ivars, who spends the entire movie almost naked and also urinates on camera for the cook to make his special sauce."
*No, they are not referring to the obvious numbers of takes that Franco liked to make, but rather to the film company One Shot Productions, for which he made most of his later direct-to-video films. At imdb, AS-69 is of the opinion that "With One Shot Productions, Jess Franco has found somebody who finances and distributes his home videos." 



Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula in 8 Legs to Love You
(1998, dir. Jess Franco)
A direct-to video-obscurity that that website for the future bourgeois Film Threat calls "an incoherent mess". They go on to say: "[...] Lina Romay plays Tarantula, a nightclub performer whose act essentially involves writhing around naked on a web. She seduces female audience members and takes them back to her place in order to string them up on more webs and, sometimes, turns into a spider with a human head. Aging scream queen Michelle Bauer (of Blonde Heaven [1995 / trailer]) plays scantily-clad Sheriff Marga, who is investigating the disappearances. Aging scream queen Linnea Quigley (of Creepozoids [1987 / trailer]) plays Tere, a possible suspect. Soon-to-be-aging scream queen Amber Newman (are you sensing a trend here?) plays Tere's daughter Amy. All of them get naked." But Last Movie Review on the Left sees all the naked flesh is a detriment, saying: "All the non-sex stuff in this movie is actually rather amusing, but as usual Franco doesn't quite know when to drop the pointless, unerotic lesbian scenes and move on to something a bit more entertaining. [...] There's some pretty explicit nudity (i.e. legs spread), however, be warned that most of it is from actresses that are a little bit past their sell-by date. [...] An overall enjoyable experience only marred by the lame and overly long sex scenes with middle-aged lesbians." The dude at efilmcritic seems to have found the film less than palatable, asking: "If an atrocious movie were intentionally atrocious, does that make it any less painful to sit through? I mean, if I let loose with a vicious fart at a quiet dinner party, yet I clearly farted ON PURPOSE – does that make me a funny guy, or a nauseating slob with bad manners and a disagreeable colon? These are the things I pondered as Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula paraded itself luridly across my television screen."
Lust for Frankenstein
(1998, dir. Jess Franco)
More direct-to-video Franco flotsam. Many a website offers the following synopsis of the plot: "In this erotic adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, we find that Moira Frankenstein (Romay) is being haunted by the ghost of her grandfather, who is none other than the original Dr. Frankenstein (Carlos Subterfuge) himself. This ghost tells Moira how to go about finishing his work of creating a female monster, [...] and finally tells her the location of the monster itself. It turns out that the monster (who prefers to be called 'Goddess' and is played by Michelle Bauer) was nearly complete, and the only thing it needs to be fully mobilized is human blood. Of course, Moira doesn't hesitate to supply this, and upon doing so, Goddess informs her that she (Moira) is now her master and that she lives to serve her. This sets into a motion a string of erotic encounters between human and monster, as well as a good deal of murder and bloodshed to keep the monster alive." Dr Gore, who gave the film a score of "1 out of 4 Bauer Monsters", says "It takes a brave man to film Lina Romay having sex these days. It takes an even braver man to watch it. Romay gets the hots for Bauer and they go at it. I felt really dirty and confused watching this scene. [...] Watching Lina Romay, with her double-wide hips and crew cut, smother Michelle Bauer was not what good times are made of. Bauer still has the body but Romay needs to step aside. She had a good run at being a sex star but it's time to stop. As for the rest of the movie, Franco was up to his usual incoherent ways. [...] You'd be better off letting this one go." We here at A Wasted Life tend to think that if you are looking for an obscure, over-the-top, blood- and sex-heavy Frankenstein film, you would be better served with an uncut version of the Andy Warhol production Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), the film that taught us during our puberty that "To understand life, you must fuck death in the gallbladder."
German Trailer to the Andy Warhol production of Flesh for Frankenstein:




Vampire Blues
(1999, dir. Jess Franco)

The theme song to Vampire Blues by The Ubangis:
Another direct-to-video trifle for One Shot Productions, this time featuring Romay as "Marga, the Gipsy". Mondo Digital says "Jess Franco whirls out a video generation lesbian remake of his haunting Female Vampire (1973) in the form of Vampire Blues, a free-association romp better appreciated by Franco fans than casual horror viewers." Monsters at Play calls the film a "90-minute music video" about "some vampire countess or something [who] is stalking a young girl vacationing in Spain," explaining: "The first ten minutes are comprised of this young lady (Rachel Sheppard) walking around and sunbathing topless. The last 20 minutes consist of her rolling around naked with the countess (Analía Ivars) while a bad optical effect is being applied. Then in between we have a lot of random shots of the countess rubbing her ass, boobs and crotch in varying positions. All the while Franco tries to keep it artistic by using creative camera techniques like shooting through a glass vase or using Banana Splits style close up/zoom in and outs." At imdb, Derek Ho of San Francisco, USA, was obviously impressed, for he raves: "Now this is pure and unadulterated Jess Franco! The director is perfectly teamed with his new One Shot Productions staff and together they have created one of the coolest and most unusual vampire films ever made. The cast consists of Euro-diva Lina Romay, one of the most underrated actresses of the last quarter century, and relative unknowns Analia Ivars and Rachel Sheppard. Sheppard is terrific as the gal from New Joisey who encounters a sexually active vampire during her vacation in Spain. The English dub is the best on any Franco film in the last 10 years and the music on the American version is perfectly chosen by One Shot Productions. It's moody and visually spectacular. Definitely one of Franco's best later efforts and not to be missed if you are a fan of occult films or vampire cinema."
NSFW Psychedelic scenes from Vampire Blues set to music from Vampiros Lesbos:

"Vampire Blues" 1999 von spaceremoted


Red Silk
(1999, dir. Jess Franco)
Another direct-to-video trifle for One Shot Productions, this time featuring Romay as "Gina". Mondo Digital points out a historic aspect to this film: "In the late 1960s, Jess Franco tried to cash in on the 007-induced spy craze with Kiss Me Monster (1969 / trailer) and Sadisterotica (1969), a pair of playfully sexy romps involving the 'Red Lips' sleuths. Though he occasionally referred to the girls now and then throughout his career, Franco didn't return to the idea full force until his shot-on-video days with One Shot Productions courtesy of Red Silk, a much more explicit and technically dubious outing." The plot of Red Silk, taken from the One Shot Production website for the film: "Tina (Christie Levin) and Pina [sic] (Romay) are two girls with a plan. Or is that 'two girls working on their tans?' Whatever. When a response to the newspaper ad for their private detective agency lands them smack dab in the middle of a murder and kidnapping plot, they put their brains AND their bods to good use... and wind up with more than just their detectives' fees." DVD Talk, which thinks the more appropriate name for the film would be "Red Shit", says: "This supposedly erotic comedy/mystery wants to portray the lewd and luscious adventures of a couple of sexy private eyes. But what we get instead is an incomprehensible homemade movie starring a couple of creepy, not comely, lasses that never once makes a lick of sense. By the time this patience tester is over, you'll wonder if Franco ever had any talent to begin with. Nothing in this nonsense would prove otherwise."
La nudist, by Daniele Luppi, used as part of the soundtrack to Red Silk:


Broken Dolls
(1999, dir. Jess Franco)
Lina is there both as an actress (playing the part of Tona) and as assistant director (credited as Rosa Almirall). Franco's script is supposedly based on an uncredited story by Jean-Claude Carrière, whose long career as a scriptwriter includes the art-house horror films Leonor (1975 / trailer) and Le moine (1972 / 7-minute scene) as well as the early Franco flick The Diabolical Dr. Z (1966 / trailer). The plot, according to 10K Bullets: "The inhabitants of a tropical paradise have become bored with their mundane lives. Wanting a way off the island some of the inhabitants plot against the leader of the island after they discover his hidden treasure." The website B Independent says "Franco explores familial dynamics in a hailstorm of sexual dysfunction manifesting itself in a sea of incestual taboos. Overweight middle-aged fathers have sex with hot young Lolitas while their daughters secretly watch and masturbate. Mother's spank their daughters into sexual submission while their fathers secretly watch and masturbate. And young daughters seek the arms of father substitutes when daddy doesn't show them enough love and attention. When you watch everything unfold, you'll be as sickened as I was. All the incestual thematic elements are creepy enough, but Franco's lingering camera makes your stomach churn with nausea. [...] Perhaps that's Franco's point, to make you uncomfortable. He sets the movie in a sunny Spanish shoreline where the sun worshipers prance around in their birthday suits without a care in the world. The beach and sun are all that matters in this idyllic world. But like David Lynch with Blue Velvet (1986 / trailer), things aren't always what they seem and once the surface is scratched you find that there's no safety in your everyday world..."

Dr. Wong's Virtual Hell
(1999, dir. Jess Franco)
This direct-to-video oddity owes a visible nod of acknowledgment to Sax Rohmer and Franco's past adaptations of the writer's works (The Castle of Fu Manchu [1969 / trailer], Rio 70 [1969 / full film], The Blood of Fu Manchu [1968 / trailer / full film] and Slave of Crime [1987]) as well as to Franco's colorful pop films like 1983's Los blues de la calle Pop (Aventuras de Felipe Malboro, volumen 8). Aside from directing, Franco takes on the Fu-Manchu-inspired role of the evil Dr. Wong; Lina Romay is there to show bush and blubber and play two roles, that of Dr. Wong's evil daughter Tsai Ming and that of the hero Nelly Smith. My Duck Is Dead explains the plot: "From Sumatra to Macau the evil of the sinister genius Dr. Wong laid waste to the Occidental police forces of Hong Kong and mainland China. Wong and his cruel daughter, Tsai Ming, rose to malevolent rule by kidnapping and ransoming the daughters of society's rich and famous. Their reign of terror was eventually ended by the magical powers of Cagliostro the Ancient Wizard.* Now Dr. Wong is back with vengeance. With Cagliostro now long dead, Wong, Tsai Ming and her assistant assassin Loba (Analía Ivars) have discovered the technologies of virtual reality. His twisted evil mind will use this newfound wonder of the modern age to wreck havoc on the daughters of Hong Kong. First up is the kidnapping of the Spanish/English daughter of a rich businessman. The father is desperate for help. Enter super detective Nelly Smith and her earnest if inept assistant Doc Petry (Pedro Temboury). Clueless in Hong Kong, who can they turn to for help in defeating Wong? Perhaps the power of the ancient is not really dead." 10K Bullets says: "In the grand scheme of things even though the plot is a lot of fun, it is nothing more than your basic evil mastermind story with everything culminates the heroes and the evil mastermind in a showdown for the ages. [...] One area that some viewers may have a hard time digesting is the film's visual style, which uses a wide array of techniques, most of which call attention to themselves. The one technique that I did enjoy the most was the comic-book-inspired dialog where bubbles appeared above characters heads as they talked." At imdb, Michael A. Manor of the United States says "[...] I'll give it a five out of ten for breaking the ultimate taboo – ageism." Dr. Wong's Virtual Hell is available as part of a direct-to-DVD double feature entitled Cravings of the Depraved, where it is paired with Franco's Helter Skelter.
*Played by deceased Howard Vernon, whose scenes are all re-dubbed scenes taken from The Rites of Frankenstein (1972).


Helter Skelter
(2000, dir. Jess Franco)
Nope, sorry: no Charles Mansion or anything of the such in this flick, which is found paired with Dr. Wong's Virtual Hell on a direct-to-DVD double feature entitled Cravings of the Depraved. Instead, supposedly, Franco pulled his dusty copy of Marquis de Sade off the shelf again to find the inspiration for yet another film based on the proto-sadist's work, once again with Romay there as assistant director ("Rosa Almirall") and on screen showing her aging body. 10K Bullets says: "Unfortunately when it comes to Helter Skelter, his ninth and to date final foray into the works of Marquis de Sade, any semblance of the works of the Marquis de Sade is at best only coincidental. To say that Helter Skelter has a minimalistic plot is understatement. There is no attempt made to explain who everyone is and what their motivations are." At Amazon.com, 4-Legged Defender, who claims to have "seen close to a hundred Franco films", says "this one is a bottom-feeder in his erratic catalog of questionable crap." To clarify: "[...] This is another of Franco's Follies from One Shot Productions. Like most of these productions/indulgences, there's no story or plot; instead we have various imagery 'inspired' by the Marquis de Sade. I think. It's so damned incoherent (even for a Franco film) as it uses both new and out-takes swept up from the editing room floor at One Shot Studios from his other cinematic crimes committed there, you're not sure of much, except that it's rabidly bad. Real-life partner and muse Lina Romay masturbates, has various sexual escapades and there's the typical lesbian scenarios Franco is fascinated with (aren't we all?) throughout the 80-minute running time. [...] When even the rampant nudity can't keep your attention piqued, you know Jess has failed us miserably."


Blind Target
(2000, dir. Jess Franco)
Lina Romay on hand as assistant director "Rosa Almirall" and to do a mandatory lesbian scene somewhere in the course of the action. The plot description on My Duck Is Dead is taken from imdb, where Anonymous explains: "Blind Target is the story of a young woman (Rachel Sheppard) who emigrated from the poor tiny Latin American country of San Hermoso only to strike it rich and famous as an author in the United States. When she returns to her homeland to promote her novel 'Desperate Letters' – a thinly veiled expose of her native land's political corruption – she is in for a welcome that she could not have imagined in her worst nightmares." Also at imdb, Derek Ho of San Francisco, USA, says: "In Blind Target Franco tackles the world of political intrigue by dispatching Rachel Sheppard as a nubile political writer into the Latin American country of San Hermoso. There she quickly gets involved in plots of kidnapping, torture, assassination and lesbianism. (Hey, it's a Jess Franco film, there's got to be some lesbianism.) Admittedly Franco's tired camera work does drag the proceedings down from time to time, but the story is untypically dense and complicated for him. Strangely enough, the dialog spoken by most of the characters is compelling and witty, moreso than in the usual Franco film. [...] Linnea Quigley is especially fine as a TV reporter and Lina Romay is terrifying as the mad doctor working for the San Hermoso political regime." Mondo Digital is of the opinion that "As with most of Franco's other 'commercial' projects like Faceless (1987 / trailer) and Count Dracula (1970 / full film), this is one odd mongrel of a movie. While Franco peppers the beginning with a gratuitous towel-draped girl-on-girl encounter and some mild bloodshed, his trademark mania doesn't really kick in until the always reliable Lina shows her stuff during the torture and blackmail sequences. From that point Blind Target is low rent, guilty fun, with a thoroughly ludicrous climax packed with awkward gunfire and flying feet."
Trailer to Antena Criminal: Making a Jess Franco Movie, Brian D. Horrorwitz's 2002 documentary on the making of Jesus Franco's Blind Target:


Vampire Junction
(2001, dir. Jess Franco)
Need we even say it? Lina Romay on hand as assistant director "Rosa Almirall" – and to play the lead ("Dr Mados") and do a mandatory lesbian scene somewhere in the course of the action. The plot, according to Vampires Online: "Dr. Mados is sent to Fallas, New Mexico to interview a surgeon (Steve Barrymore), but when she arrives, she finds that the man is unwilling to speak to her as it appears that something in this backward western town has him under its control. As Mados gets closer to the truth, she's sucked into a world of bloodsucking cowboys, insatiable nymphs, and the irresistible charms of Countess Irina (Samantha Olsen), a vampire princess of American Indian descent, who wants Mados to be her vampire heir!" And what is the film like? Well, Mondo Digital says: "Utterly odd, Vampire Junction is another of Franco's languid, dreamlike fusions of sex and violence where reality and hallucinations overlap." Movie Gurus, on the other hand, bitches that "This has to be the worst movie I have ever seen, and believe me I have seen stinkers in my time. Vampire Junction is so bad that it makes Manos – the Hands of Fate (1966 / fan trailer / full film) look like an Ingmar Bergman movie in comparison." Somewhere in the USA in 2005, the film made someone named Judith Pelly contemplate that "There's no denying that the Jesus Franco of the 21st century is a completely distilled version of the diabolical director who enjoyed his heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. Devoid of the healthy budgets pumped into his commercial films of 30 years ago, Franco's new shot-on-video productions are fueled not so much by cash and imagination but by poverty and hallucination. Franco no longer worries about such basics as plot or character development, he moves from scene to scene creating one unbelievable moment and then another, not necessarily caring if the plot or story has moved forward, backward, sideways or completely off the wall. It is as though what's on the screen at the moment is all that matters, what came before or what comes next is anybody's guess – even Franco's." 


Thug Life
(2001, dir. Greg Carter)
According to imdb, Lina Romay – a Spanish exploitation diva – is one of the associate producers of this US Blaxpliotation flick. Okay, sure – why not? Weirder things happen in life, right? (For example: Bush got elected twice, people read this blog, men care whether their women have an orgasm, etc.) Wikipedia explains the plot of the film, which was written, produced, and directed by Greg Carter: "A young man trying to grow up straight in a crime-ridden neighborhood finds himself on the run after a friend accidentally lures him into a trap in this hard-edged urban drama. Boo (Thomas Miles) grew up in a rough section of Houston, TX, where many see crime as their only way out. Boo is determined to leave the street life behind and build an honest career for himself as a plumber, but his longtime friend Mecca (Gregory O. Stewart) talks Boo into helping him out as he tries to sell a stolen vehicle. Things don't go as planned, and when shots ring out, Boo and Mecca discover they've been framed for the murder of a gang leader and have to get out of Houston at once if they are to stand any chance of surviving the night. Thug Life also features noted hip-hop and reggae artists Vybz Kartel, Willie D., the Lady of Rage, and Napoleon." At imdb, newdbmguy makes the film sound like a One Shot Productions Franco film: "This movie is absolutely awful. It looks as if the director came up with the idea, grabbed some buddies, and shot it on a vhs camera. Absolutely awful. The acting, directing, kung fu, and plot are awful. Awful movie."
Trailer:


Incubus
(2002, dir. Jess Franco)
Franco gets his sex-hungry ghosts confused and calls the film Incubus ("An evil spirit supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep" [American Heritage Dictionary]) instead of Succubus,* possibly because he already has a film entitled Succubus (re-titled from Necronomicon [1968 / Spanish trailer]). As for Lina Romay – need we even say it? Lina Romay on hand as assistant director "Rosa Almirall" and also has a good-sized part as the "usually naked wife" Rosa Harker. Incubus is once again a case of Franco making an inferior remake of an older film of his, in this case of Les possédées du diable / Lorna, The Exorcist (1974 / 5.12 minutes). My Duck Is Dead has the generic plot synopsis found all over the web: "Lady Luck comes in many disguises. For ill-fated artist Johan Harker (Carsten Frank) she took the form of Lorna (Fata Morgana), a beautiful woman with unearthly desires. Lorna grants Johan his wish for riches and success beyond his wildest dreams. But happiness lasts only until Johan's beautiful daughter Lucy (Carina Palmer) reaches the age of her ripening. Now Lorna will come calling for what Johan owes... Lucy's soul. She's no longer Daddy's little girl. She's the spawn of Satan." At Amazon.com, Roxanna Pelly of The Free Press says that in "Incubus Franco has harkened back to his spectacular 1970s heydays with a very close retelling of his Lorna the Exorcist film. Carina Palmer is pretty and compelling taking over the old Lina Romay role. Lina Romay herself takes on the role played by the iconic Janine Reynaud in the original – how time flies! Sure the film has a lot of nudity and some very uncomfortable and creepy scenarios, but Franco has not been better recently and for the over-18 crowd this should be very satisfying." Mondo Digital, however, disagrees with her, saying "[...] This slice of erotic horror hokum [...] kicks off with the goofiest rendition of 'Rockabye Baby' ever recorded and goes downhill from there. The story, for lack of a better term, concerns successful, folically-challenged artist Johan, whose riches can be attributed to a pact made with the sexy, supernatural Lorna, [...] who gives him fame and fortune in exchange for his daughter when she turns twenty. Coincidentally, said daughter, Lucy, returns home and spends her time lolling around naked in bed, reading the Marquis De Sade, and indulging in S&M fantasies." The score is taken from Franco's The Perverse Countess (1974).
*"A female demon supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with a man while he sleeps." (American Heritage Dictionary)


Killer Barbys vs. Dracula
(2002, dir. Jess Franco)
We have this DVD somewhere in our pile of "To Watch" DVDs. Lina Romay is found in the film playing "Irina von Karstein", a direct homage (in name, in any event) to the character she played as a nubile in 1973's Female Vampire. In this film here, she plays one of the owners of the amusement park where the story unfolds; she dies. Killer Barbys vs. Dracula is the sequel to Franco's 1996 flick Killer Barbys, nee "Barbies", which, like this sequel, stars the members of the Spanish band Killer Barbies. (For the film release, "Barbies" became "Barbys" so as to avoid trouble with some small toy company called Mattel.) Killer Barbys vs. Dracula became part of our pile of future watches primarily due to their minor MTV hit when the film came out with a cover version of Iggy Pop's classic song Candy (video to the original version); the Killer Barbies' version proves that truly great songs are almost impossible to ruin.
Candy by the Killer Barbies:
The deep voice doing the Iggy Pop part is no one less than Bela B. of Die Ärzte, one of Germany's best and most successful punk bands (they're "punk" much in the same way as Green Day is "punk", but with way better lyrics – though [Duh!] you need to speak German to understand them).
Die Ärzte singing their hit Männer Sind Schweine ("Men Are Pigs"):
Bela B. is also in the film, playing the part of Bela Blasko Lugos; he dies. (Among other fun film projects, Bela B. also makes a cameo appearance in Nikos the Impaler [2003 / trailer] and supplied all the voices for the German release of the hilarious Danish slasher animation film, Terkel in Trouble [2004 / trailer].) At imdb, sheenafilm of Hamburg, Germany, supplies the following synopsis: "In a Wild West park in southern Spain, a rock band called Killer Barbies is playing a bunch of shows. Many strange characters hang around, including a guy who claims to be Count Dracula (Pietro Martellanza). Then, a government official from Transylvania arrives – and in the back of her car is the glass coffin with the real Dracula (Enrique Sarasola). He is meant to become a tourist attraction, but soon is back from the dead after listening to the Killer Barbies' tune Wake Up (song). He gets obsessed with Silvia (Silvia Superstar), the singer of the Killer Barbies. Lots of necks and bites later, the vampire hunter Dr Seward (Dan van Husen) comes into town to fight the evil undead. Unfortunately, Seward is blind and the villagers doubt that he is able to stop Dracula. But if he can't, who else could?"
A trailer, of sorts:


Rossa Venezia
(2003, dir Andreas Bethmann)

Pointless scene:
The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre offers a good description of the prolific German direct-to-and-shot-on-video trash director Andreas Bethmann: "An amateur amongst underground amateurs slowly improving his exploitation skills, and a more modern and extreme German version of Joe D'Amato. Bethmann directs pornography but usually mixes it with splatter, violent perversions, exploitation and other extreme favorites of underground cinema. [...] His favorite theme seems to be the exploitation, torture, stabbing and abuse of women. He doesn't try to disguise shock and exploitation cinema as art or fancy celluloid, but goes all-out for the sleaze and gore, catering exclusively and repetitively to this niche. Often releases his movie in two versions, a tamer version and a hardcore version." In other words, in topics and method of madness, he can very much be said to be a product of the Jess Franco School of Filmmaking, so it is not surprising that given the chance he would put Franco in a film of his – which he did, alongside Lina Romay, in this hardcore porno splatter film. The Sins of Cinema, which rates the film 7 out 10 points, nevertheless states "Andreas Bethmann's Rossa Venezia is the 1st horror-splatter-women-in-prison-giallo ever made. And if there is, in fact, a God, it will also be the last…" (Dude, A Wasted Life hates to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no such thing as God – didn't you learn anything from Santa Claus?) The plot, to freely translate the German synopsis found at Zelluliod.de: "Venice ten years ago: a woman comes home unexpectedly and finds her beloved spouse in bed with another woman. She flips her wig and kills them both, which results in her being sent to a women's prison. Pardoned ten years later, her hatred for women knows no bounds. Returning to the long-deserted and run-down house of her first murders, her hate is aimed mostly at the two sisters of the woman she caught in bed with her husband – but all other beautiful women are also a thorn in her side. When the bodies of women tortured to death begin to turn up across Venice, Commissioner Milo and his assistant Dr. Bertucci take up the investigation. A race begins with the time." Rossa Venezia features hardcore sex with mostly unattractive (as in: normal looking) people, a lot of violent deaths and gore, gore, gore.
Very, very NSFW trailer of Rossa Venezia:



Kárate a muerte en Torremolinos
(2003, dir. Pedro Temboury)

Trailer, Grindhouse version:
As "Peter Temboury", Pedro Temboury appeared alongside Romay in Franco's later works Lust for Frankenstein (1998), Vampire Blues (1999) and Dr. Wong's Virtual Hell (1999); here, in his debut film as a director, he pulls in both Franco and Lina Romay for cameos (Romay is not to be found in the trailer below, but Franco is). The plot is explained at Colectivo Cinema Errante: "A low budget can often be made up for with big doses of humor and inspired direction. Pedro Temboury makes a big splash with silly zombies, a portly villain, a rubber monster and clever cameo appearances by cult director Jess Franco and actress Lina Romay. Big baddie Paul Lapidus plans to take over the world with karate-trained zombies by attacking the town of Torremolinos. Call in martial arts champ Oliver Denis to the rescue and see him knocked off almost immediately. The jokes are smart the acting is way above what you would expect from such a low budget film." At imdb, PFox of Madrid, Spain, says the film is "a funny, mindless, no-budget movie that's really proud of its humble origins. People looking for something serious or some production values must stay away of it. (Alas, what could you expect from a movie made from stock film from several shootings, including some from the Spanish Z-guru Jess Franco?). First-time director Temboury offers a post-modern product: he is recreating his Z-movie heritage, and delivering a movie for fans of the genre. Of course the movie is technically very poor (except some nice touches like the credits, which are impressive), but Temboury manages to make the viewer forget about these shortcomings thanks to his great sense of humor and his obvious knowledge of filmmaking language."
Original trailer:


See you later Cowabunga: La maldición del cenachero diabólico!
(2004, dir. José Roberto Vila)
José Roberto Vila played the Inspector in Killler Barbys vs. Dracula, for which he is also listed as one of the writers; this is his debut and to-date only feature-length film, if you can even call this project a film – it appears much more to be an excuse to present a variety of Spanish bands doing a song or two. To freely translate the Spanish-language description found at Lapelikula: "An independent film shot in mini-dv which has various guest appearances by Jess Franco, Lina Romay, Carlos Aguilar, Pedro Temboury, Juan de Pablos and diverse musical groups, both Spanish and international (for example: The Straitjackets, Surfin' Lungs, Doctor Explosion, Airbag, The Sovereigns, Lost Acapulco, etc). When Professor Von Fierro (Carlos Fierro) begins attacking pop music groups, it is up to Cowabunga, the pop and the surf guru, to save things; but he has retired to the beach and does not want to leave it, so he allows Pepón (Pepón Fuentes) and his faithful friend Marvels to take care of the matter." Sounds thrilling – it won't be finding its way onto our "To Watch" pile. Franco and Romay can both be seen in the trailer: he for seconds, she for split seconds.
Trailer:


Snakewoman
(2005, dir. Jess Franco)
Lina Romay (as – Surprise! –"Rosa Almirall") is assistant director and co-scriptwriter of this loose reworking of Franco's infamous Vampiros Lesbos (1971). 
German trailer to Vampiros Lesbos (1971):
The writer at the blogspot Quiet Cool, who says that the film "is one of my favorite latter-day Jess Franco efforts", explains the plot as follows: "Oriana Balasz was a controversial, and now obscure, artist from the 1930s, whose work, primarily film, is closely-guarded by her descendants. Carla (Fata Morgana), an agent for a publishing house, has gone to the Balasz villa to persuade the family into selling the rights to her work. Carla arrives and meets a young woman (Carmen Montes) who claims to be Oriana. She refuses to sell the work to Carla." My Duck Is Dead – once again stealing (without credit) from Michael Elliott's review at imdb – says "This is easily Franco's best film in over a decade and his most erotic since probably the late 70s. Thankfully Franco cut out all the disgusting sexual acts and goes for pure erotic scenes and for the most part he has hit a home run. The actual story also works pretty well and the cast isn't too bad either. Lina Romay has a small role that allows her comic cuteness to come through without any ugly sex scenes." Also at imdb, Kelly Maureen of Kellysville, WV, gives a female perspective: "Lots of skin and sex, but it's all held together by a minimalist story that is somehow very interesting and makes it all worth it. [...] What I really enjoyed was the comfortableness of the sexuality and the way the appealing actresses carried themselves. [...] The only thing that I couldn't understand is that there is no snake anywhere except on a tattoo."
44 seconds of Snakewoman:


Jess Franco's Perversion
(2005, dir. Jess Franco)
Original title: Flores de perversion – needless to say, not only is Lina on hand both as an actress and as assistant director (credited as Rosa Almirall) and fully into her lesbian scenes, but the writings of Marquis de Sade are the inspiring source of the film. Specifically, according to the blogspot I'm In A Jess Franco State Of Mind, the film "is based on the posthumous Sade text 'Augustine de villeblanche, ou le stratageme de l'amour: HISTORIETTES: CONTES ET FABLIAUS de Donatien-Alphonse-Francois, marquis de Sade, publies pour la premiere fois sur les manuscrits autographs inedits par Maurice Heine. A Paris, pour les members de la Societe du Roman Philosophique, 1926. 4to , 340 pages'." The blogspot, which says the film "isn't a nice movie" and that one should "approach [it] with caution", explains the "situational" plot as follows: "Mme Villeblanche (Lina Romay) operates an upscale prostitution empire located in an office tower somewhere in Spain. She spends most of her days frolicking in bed with her assistant (Rachael Sheppard), occasionally interrupted by business calls on her cell phone. Two new hookers are hired to lure clients into the torture chambers of Mme... a one-way trip for the customers." As Michael Elliott of Louisville, KY, puts it in his comment about the film at imdb: "Even at 80+ years Franco is still a perv." In Elliott's opinion, it's not the "torture, lesbian sex, S&M, gore, lesbian sex, mutilation and more lesbian sex" that keep "this thing from being a complete disaster", but rather the very good "music score by Franco". 


Jess Franco's Passion
(2005, dir. Jess Franco)
Original title: Flores de la pasión – needless to say, Lina on hand to both play a lesbian and act as assistant director (credited as Rosa Almirall). Plot? What plot? Oh, yeah: an unhappy lesbian spies on two happy lesbians across the way. Roughly 25 boring NSFW minutes of the "film" can be found here at xhamster.com, but we here at A Wasted Life have to admit we fell asleep while watching it – as normal, the Franco touch made sure that even the sloppy shaving scene didn't do anything for us. Also as normal, over at My Duck Is Dead, they quote without credit an imdb viewer's comment when explaining the film, in this case babycarrot67 from Columbus, Ohio: "Jess Franco's Passion is another deeply personal film from Jess Franco, and is a partial re-make of his 1982 film Historia Sexual D'O, but Passion does not have the brutal SM present in the O film, though it does feature one ugly violent death. Like many of Jess's recent films, it is short of dialog, long on explicit lesbian love scenes [...]. There are only four actresses in the cast, Fata Morgana King and Carmen Montes play the happy lesbians who are nude throughout the film's 99 minute running time. [...] These two women are practically sexual acrobats and their total exhibitionism rivals Lina Romay. Lina and Rachel Sheppard play the unhappy lesbians, with Sheppard spying on the happy women in the apartment across from theirs. Lina phones in her role in its entirety, and she has only three scenes, but as usual she makes the most of her time and she provides the only real acting in the film."




Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre
(2007, dir. Andreas Bethmann)
Theoretically, this film is a sequel to Bethmann's 1998 film Der Todesengel (aka Angel of Death), but The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre – which rates both films as "worthless" – calls the movie "A sequel in name only."
Opening scene of Angel of Death / Der Todesengel (in German):
The familiar plot of Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre is detailed at Film Bizarro: "A young girl is wrongfully arrested and sent to an isolated prison located on a small island. She claims her innocence but she is still subjected to all the torture and humiliation that all prisoners face at the hands of Mrs. Steele, the sadistic warden. Help is on the way in the form of a group of mercenaries that were hired by the girl's father and they will do anything to get the job done. Even if it means turning the island into a warzone." Lina Romay, who was at the whipping end in so many a WIP film, now does the whipping: she plays the sadistic warden, Mrs. Steele. (Franco appears as "The Mad Prisoner".) According to imdb, the same island, fortress, and dungeon are used in Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre as in Leandro Lucchetti's Caged – Le prede umane (1991). Aside from his typical misogynistic violence and lesbian and hetro porn involving massive amounts of nude, pale flesh, this time around Bethmann also tosses in some penis pliers and gay porn. Independent Flicks complains that "There is plenty of bad acting, the pacing is slow and the action sequences are badly made. [...] Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre isn't a good film, it's mostly boring but it is a very very sleazy flick."
Actually, it sounds like just the kind of film we here at A Wasted Life enjoy! 


Paula-Paula
(2010, dir. Jess Franco)
Lina Romay's last film appearance in a small role as a policewoman who keeps her clothes on – and Jess Franco's last "film" to date. A psychedelic, oblique and sexed-up lesbian play on the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde that lasts all of an hour but nevertheless had the reviewer at Rock! Shock! Pop! say "[...] I think it ran a bit long for my personal tastes." The Pineal Eye explains the unexplainable: "The subtitle of Jess Franco's Paula-Paula teases the film as being 'An Audiovisual Experience.' That's about the best way I can describe Franco's 2010 feature, which loosely tells the story of a murdered exotic dancer named Paula (Paula Davis). Paula's lover – who shares the same name and is played by Snakewoman's Carmen Montes – is being accused of the crime. When we meet her, she's clearly (and literally) lost her mind over the killing, and it doesn't take long for her to lapse into an erotic fever dream. From there we become the voyeur, watching the events that transpired leading up to the murder." Trash Film Addict, which lauds Franco for letting Romay keep her clothes on in the film and using her "as an actress and not a fetish", says: "Paula-Paula is the first film that Jess Franco has done in years which could be called reasonably tasteful. In it there are no mute nymphos urinating into cooking bowls or female vampires staked with dildos. In fact, there's very little of any substance, trashy or otherwise, in Paula-Paula." Here at A Wasted Life, we are of the opinion that the mistake Franco made with this film is that he added a (slim) plot instead of just making a 60-minute string of arty images, which would have made the video truly 'An Audiovisual Experience' and a perfect background wall projection for your next party.
One minute of Paula-Paula:

Trailer provided by Video Detective


Lina Romay – May she rest in peace.

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