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Jess Franco’s Stripped Dead (Incubus / Vampire Blues / Broken Dolls / Snakewoman) 
Written by: on December 26th, 2010

Theatrical Release Dates:
USA, 1999 (Incubus), USA, 1999 (Vampire Blues), USA, 1999 (Broken Dolls), Spain / USA, 2005 (Snakewoman)
Director: Jesus Franco
Cast: Carina Palmer, Carsten Frank, Lina Romay, Fata Morgana (Incubus), Rachel Sheppard, Analía Ivars, Lina Romay, Jesus Franco, Pedro Temboury, Jessica Luo, Leyora Zuberman (Vampire Blues), Paul Lapidus, Lina Romay, Christie Levin, Exequiel Caldas, Mavi Tienda, Guillermo Agranati, Carlos Braun (Broken Dolls), Carmen Montes, Fata Morgana, Christie Levin, Exequiel Caldas, Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Luco Amadori III, Fabio Batistuta, Nat Adzibor(Snakewoman)

DVD released: December 7th, 2010
Approximate running times: 78 minutes (Incubus), 68 Minutes (Vampire Blues), 82 minutes (Broken Dolls), 98 Minutes (Snakewoman)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame (All Films)
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Stereo English (Incubus / Vampire Blues / Broken Dolls), Dolby Digital Stereo Spanish (Snakewoman)
Subtitles: Burnt-in English subtitles (Snakewoman)
DVD Release: SRS Cinema
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

Incubus: Johan Harker is a struggling artist whose wife is also extremely ill. One day he encounters a woman named Lorna who promises him fame, fortune and cures his wife’s illness if he and his wife agree to bear a child for her. After twenty years of good fortune Lorna returns to collect the child she is owed and when Johan refuses to complete the deal back luck then befalls everyone around him.

Jess Franco has made career out remaking his previous and this is even more evident in his most recent films. Scenarios and character like Lorna have been recycled many times. The acting is pretty bad in Incubus with one exception that being Lina Romay who starts off slowly before coming into her own when her characters looses her mind. The performances are also hampered by the how bland the English dubbed makes each person sound. Franco shows hints of his past greatness with a few interesting shots and the films orgy finale is some of his best work in many years. In a somewhat unrelated but interesting twist Franco during the scene where Lina’s character looses her mind zooms in on a book about Klaus Kinski. Overall Incubus is mess that is very hard to digest in one sitting and outside of Franco fans that must see every one of his films I would suggest everyone else skip it.

Vampire Blues: A young woman on vacation in the south of Spain is stalked by a vampire countess.

Content wise the Plot for Vampire Blues is very basic remake of Jess Franco’s Female Vampire. There is very little dialog. The majority of the film spent with languid sequences that draw out a story that could have been told in half the time. And in many instances these draw out sequences are counterproductive to the dreamlike nature of the story at hand. Visually the film is one of the more atmospheric to emerge out of Jess Franco’s collaborations with One Shot Productions.

The cast are more than adequate in their respective roles. With the stand out performance coming from Lina Romay in the role of a gypsy Woman. When all is said and done. If you are not a fan of Jess Franco or have never seen any of his films. Vampire Blues is not going to be the film that changes your mind or sells you on his unique brand of cinema. While die hard Francophiles may be more forgiven of the limitations of this project. Jess Franco is a filmmaker driven by his obsessions and Vampire Blues is laced with themes that have dominated the bulk of his cinematic output.

Broken Dolls: 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.

Premise wise Broken Dolls is ripe with all the things that one would expect from a Jess Franco film. Visually it is one of his stronger efforts to emerge from his collaborations with One Shot Productions. The story is simple and straight forward enough that things never get to bogged down in the abstract tangents that are all to familiar in so many of Jess Franco other One Shot Productions. The film features a wide array of quirky characters which are anchored by Paul Lapidus’s maniacal performance as a former vaudevillian actor, who has become the de facto leader of the island. Without a doubt the scenes in which his characters interacts with himself are easily the most entertaining moments.  Another area where this film does well is its brisk pacing.

Unfortunately this film also has it fare share of flaws with the English dubbing often getting in the way of the performances. Also many of the accents are often so thick that trying to making out what is being said proves to be a problem. Also those expecting an ample amount of blood and sex. Will be disappointed as all the bloodshed is saved for the finale and the bulk of the erotica is tame even by Jess Franco’s standards. Despite these shortcomings there are a handful of moments that save this film from being an utter disaster.

Snakewoman: A company that is interested in acquiring the rights to a cult movie icons estate. So they send a representative, who is given the task of persuading the heirs to sell the rights to the  cult movie icons estate. What appears to be a routine task. Quickly becomes difficult when the eccentric heirs reveal their intentions regarding the estate.

After several missteps and haphazard attempts at trying to recreate the style and mood for which his most memorable films are known for. Jess Franco for his twelfth and to date last collaboration with One Shot Productions. He would return familiar territory with Snakewoman.

Content wise this film would draw inspiration from films like Vampyros Lesbos and Female Vampire. The plot is fairly straight forward. A sufficient amount of time is spent establishing who everyone is and their motivations. The one area where the majority of Jess Franco’s One Shot Productions suffer is pacing. Thankfully there are no glaring problems with Snakewoman in this area. At just under 100 minutes things move along at a reasonable pace. Visually the film shows a marked improvement over Jess Franco more recent output. Another area where this  film is a return to form from Jess Franco are its sexual set pieces.

The main character, who is portrayed by Carmen Montes has a snake tattooed that coils around her body. Also she spends the majority of her screen time prancing around naked. Her performance is the role of the mysterious heir to a cult movie Icons estate is this film’s greatest asset. Another performance of note is the other leading lady Fata Morgana, in the role of Carla a representative for the company interested in acquiring the rights to the cult movie’s Icons estate. When and is said done, Snakewoman is easily Jess Franco’s best films since the late 1980′s.

The DVD:

Incubus, Vampire Blues, Broken Dolls and Snakewoman are all presented in their original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratios. All four of these films were shot on video and while there are some minor flaws. These flaws are more inherent to the source, than the transfers. Also there are some mild instances of combing present.

The audio options are as follows, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English for Incubus, Vampire Blues and Broken Dolls and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Spanish for Snakewoman.  Also included with Snakewoman are non removable English subtitles. Even though these audio mixes are limited range wise. Dialog comes through clearly enough to follow. Also there are some mild instances of background noise.

The release comes with two dual layer discs. Each disc comes with a static menu. Disc one contains Incubus and Vampire Blues. Disc two contains Broken Dolls and Snakewoman. There is no extra content. Overall SRS Cinema give Jess Franco fans who missed out on these films stand alone releases. A chance to pick them up at their most affordable price to date.

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