Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 1st, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, 1968
Director: Jess Franco
Writer: Pier A. Caminnecci
Cast: Janine Reynaud, Jack Taylor, Adrian Hoven, Howard Vernon
DVD released: July 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 79 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Lorna Green (Janine Reynaud) is a night club performer whose simulated snuff act is world renowned. It doesn’t take long before Lorna starts to confuse her stage persona with reality by engulfing herself in a downward spiral of hallucinatory visions that feel all too real. He she gone to far or will she regain the sanity that slowly slips away?
Succubus was like a new beginning for director Jess Franco. Who up till that point as director had mostly made horror or spy films. The films that followed Succubus would become more and more sexual in their content. The narrative in Succubus like many Franco films has been said to be disjointed or confusing. Both of which it is not and in many ways it is one of Franco most developed plots. The films dream like narrative style perfectly compliments Franco’s surreal imagery. What is real and what is a dream? Franco walks this line ever so finely as he never fully eposes either as frauds.
The films opening S&M sequence where a man and a woman are being tortured by Lorna is clever it its overall design and execution. Franco slowly teases the viewer as his camera pulls back to reveal that what we are watching is a stage show and not real torture. Actress Janine Reynaud who would go on to work with Franco tow more times in the films Two Undercover Angels and Kiss me Monster stars as Lorna in Succubus. Reynaud performance is exquisite as she plays both the seductress and the confused victim with equal flair. Several of Franco’s regular stock players like Jack Taylor and Howard Vernon appear in the film. While Howard Vernon’s role is nothing more then a cameo Jack Taylor has a substantial part as the films antagonist William Lorna’s Boyfriend.
The locations used and costumes worn in the films are both great assets which add to the film overall glossed look. Franco employs soft focus photography through out the film many times these sequences are without a doubt some of the most beautiful he ever composed. Succubus contains many elements which Jess Franco would later employ to a greater effect over the next decade.
Many years ago when I first took the plunge into the wonderful world of Euro Cult cinema one of the first films I saw was Jess Franco’s Succubus. I watched the film via Anchor Bay’s less then stellar DVD and even though the presentation was not the greatest the film still effected me greatly. I envy those who will be watching Succubus for the first time via Blue Underground’s glorious transfer and for those who have always loved this film now you can finally retire all previous editions of this film.
Succubus had been previously released by Anchor Bay in the late 1990’s in a compromised cropped full frame version. Blue underground has decided to revisit this title and now it is presented for the first time ever on DVD in its original aspect ratio. The image is anamorphic enhanced and flagged for progressive scan. Colors look stunning and details are exceptionally. Overall this new transfer for Succubus is superior to all previous releases of the film on DVD.
This release comes with one audio option an English dubbed audio track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sound defects. Overall for a film that is nearly forty years old the audio sounds amazing.
This release comes with the films original English language trailer which is also presented in widescreen. Other extras include a seven minute with Jack Taylor titled “Back in Berlin”. Taylor besides being interviewed inside also takes his interview to the streets of Berlin where various scenes from the film were shot. He has a sharp memory and some of his answer I found surprising. The final extra is a twenty two minute interview with the ever so entertaining Jess Franco titled “From Nerconomicon to Succubus”. Jess Franco discuss in depth working with Jack Taylor, Janine Reynaud, Adrian Hoven and censorship in Spanish cinema.
Blue Underground add another fully loaded DVD to their Jess Franco collection which is sure to find its way into the hands of every hardcore Jess Franco fan, highly recommended.