Director - Jess Franco
Cast - Lina Romay, Jess Franck(Jess Franco), Rosa Almirall
Country of Origin - Spain
Distributor - Kino
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Films (3.5/5)
...And now for something completely different.
Jess Franco on Blu-ray!
Yes, EuroCultAV.com readers you have read that right. Those wonderful folks at Redemption/Kino have decided to give the man the Vatican once declared the most dangerous filmmaker alive his 1080p debut with a pair of his 70's films Female Vampire and the film discussed here Exorcism (aka Demoniac, The Sadist of Notre Dame, etc).
Jess Franco these days could be considered one of the final living legends of the earlier days of European horror cinema. He made his genre debut with the certifiable classic the Awful Dr. Orlof in 1962, and has been an almost non-stop filmmaking factory since that time. He has slowed down in recent years, but has released the experimental film Paula-Paula on DVD via Severin offshoot Intervision Pictures Corp. this year, and his IMDB listing list 2 more films as completed.
Not bad for a low-budget filmmaker in his eighties.
Exorcism is a mid-70's entry in his oeuvre, which sees Franco himself starring (under his frequent pseudonym Jess Franck) as expelled Priest and BDSM erotica writer Mathis Vogel. Mathis despite being thrown out of the Church for his hardcore belief structure, continues to believe strongly in his own specific religious doctrine. As the film begins he spies a Grand Guignol show styled as a Satanic Black Mass. He does not realize it is a show, and believes the actors are actually possessed by the devil himself, and goes about torturing, killing, and thus saving them from the devils grasp.
Jess Franco has directed over 200 films in his career, and due to the sheer volume he has quite a few stinkers in his repertoire, and almost all Eurohorror fans have conflicting opinions of his various works. I have to admit to not have seen a great deal of Jess' output, and thus this was my first sit down with Exorcism. I have heard mixed things about the film over the years, but was pleasantly surprised with my sit down with the film
The film is shot in Franco's colorful, and very off the cuff style. Whereas some directors may have chosen to take their time to get a perfect shot, Jess seemed to always have his mind on either the next shot or the next project and the style he developed over the years seems to have developed due to that.
The film does get a bit repetitious at times, but it's just such a wild bit of Euro-trash fun that if you're on the same wavelength, you simply don't care. The performances are hard to really judge, as they are massacred by some of the worst dubbing you are ever likely to hear, but which strangely fits the film (Whoever dubbed Franco's Priest, was so over the top I couldn't help but love it).
As with pretty much all of Franco's output there is a good deal of sex, nudity, and violence. Admittedly, he does not appear to have had much of an effects budget on this film so much of the violence is implied rather than shown, but there is pretty much an over abundance of female flesh on display from the first frame.
I will admit Jess Franco is a director that is not everyone's cup of tea. I do not like every film of his I've come across (Oasis of the Zombies is complete and utter dreck), and even his good or great films might send people away from the screen. I found Exorcism a wildly exciting, and fun psychotronic film experience, and would classify it as one of the best films I've seen of Franco's oeuvre. Some fans will of disagree, but if you're ready for a truly over the top good time, than Exorcism is recommended.
Kino/Redemption's release of Jess Franco's Exorcism is certainly not going to win any A/V awards from the general HD buying public, but in keeping with their tradition of offering the best possible high-def offering, using what appear to be the best possible elements of a film, and doing very little digital tweaking what we have here is a fine representation of Exorcism on Blu-ray.
The film has very good fine detail, and strong colors, flesh tones are accurate, and black levels are solid. It has quite a decent grain structure which does help give off that film like ambiance that makes me love Blu-ray so much. That being said the source for this is not in the best of shape, and there are quite a few scratches, and bits of various sorts of print damage throughout the transfer. They are quite noticeable, depending on the viewer this might not be something you are a fan of. I find them in keeping with that film-like ambiance I discussed above, and actually contributed to the charm of the film.
The audio is presented in a decent quality dubbed English English track. The sound quality of the track is decent throughout. The dialogue is clear and audible throughout, the soundtracks comes through nice and clean as do the effects. That being said I did notice some minor instances of audio cracking throughout the track.
There isn't much to speak of as far as extras on this disc. The disc includes 2 versions of the film the erotic Exorcism, and the tame horror version Demoniac. Kino/Redemption have also seen fit to include the trailers for the film, also Female Vampire , and other Kino/Redemption releases.
Kino/Redemption are continuing their streak of awesome obscure Eurocult releases with Jess Franco's 1975 insane priest on a rampage film Exorcism. If you are a Franco fan, this might be up your alley, if you're curious about Franco give it a go. The A/V looks a bit rough, but is solid, and the extras don't amount to much other than a few trailers and an alternate cut version. I will say that I feel the world is now a incrementally better place now that Jess Franco is in HD. Recommended.