Saturday, January 5, 2008

It All Comes Back To The Italians

This has been a big few days for me, a Naschy film followed by a Franco film followed by THE Bava film. In watching these movies I realized just how much has been impacted by cult horror in the last half-century; how films like Bay Of Blood wound up influencing the films of Michael Haneke in their grim portrayal of violence. Wierder still is the idea that the strange whims of yahoos like Jesús Franco are never going to be erased from history's long list of artistic bastardizers simply because they had cameras and people like Lina Romay and Jack Taylor who were more than happy to pretend to have sex in front of a camera. While watching Female Vampire it struck me that Franco could have made any movie he wanted to with the money and crew he had, but he chose to make Female Vampire. He clearly had no content restrictions (the first and last thing and only thing we see are Lina Romay prancing through the woods, as naked as a newborn child) and yet chose to make the most aimless movie I've yet seen. I understand this was supposed to be a softcore porn film, but this movie isn't erotic or even the least bit exciting. Each new element makes the film harder to follow and the plot is purely nominal. The question I find myself asking is, all these guys Franco, Rollin, Mattei, Naschy...They could have made any kind of movie they wanted in the horror framework but instead chose never to exert themselves beyond either filming boring smut or ripping each other off shamelessly. Clearly they had ideas (you don't make 180 films without them) so why did they always act on their most base impulses? Why not create tension or create likeable characters for once or follow any plot point to the end or really try scaring people? You are horror directors aren't you? Why stick to formulas if you really have no interest in them? European horror directors of the 70s were a bunch of truly perplexing guys. It fell to them to rewrite the standards for filth when the world was getting used to a Hays-less world and they chose the most bizarre, winding road possible. If I was on the cusp of a revolution in cinema, I don't think the thing I would want to be remembered for would be Deep Red or Female Vampire. And you know what, those guys are still praised for making the choices they did and are in part responsible for the world we live in today. I'm willing to bet if they knew how things would turn out, they wouldn't have changed a thing.

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