One of my all-time favourite directors, and I say this with utter seriousness, because people usually laugh at me when I say his name, is Jesu Franco, of such gems as Vampyros Lesbos and Venus in Furs. No, I’m really serious. He’s the Euro-trash equivalent of Ed Wood, and Johnny Depp made a film about that angora sweater wearing cross-dresser.
Naturally my last DVD excursion in Guangzhou was made even more transcendental by discovering those aforementioned titles, and my eventual return almost exploding with frisson at the knowledge that Sadomania is now out in all it’s sadistic she-male prison warden genius.
Franco updates an unused ‘Ilsa: Wicked Warden’script to suit the statuesque Wilson in the lead role, of which he/she takes with both hands. This is so over the top and the acting so terribly bad that it is difficult to get offended by the cartoon capers, the rubber crocs for instance are side splittingly funny, but that is exactly what has happened with this movie time and time again. The scene where the prisoner is raped by a dog is so ridiculous that laughter crosses your face in what should be shocking, but it’s not and Franco is playing with you here and he knows it.
This previously banned movie is presented in an almost uncut version; a little nipple torture has been removed at the behest of the BBFC but is almost completely shown in the Spanish version of the Trailer and at the end of the Franco interview.
Russ Meyer died earlier this week.
A one-man film industry, Meyer wrote, directed, produced and edited some 23 features, starting with his censor-baiting debut The Immoral Mr Teas in 1959 and continuing through to 1979’s Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens. Fans fondly remember such cult 1960s offerings as Mudhoney, Vixen and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
No one could ever mistake a Meyer film as the work of anyone else. Initially shot for the drive-in market, his movies featured cartoonish plots containing rambunctious dollops of sex and violence, and showcasing imposing, full-breasted women. Defending his work against accusations of sexism, Meyer described these heroines as “take-charge women, the type of women I like”.