Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Venus in Furs|
Actors: Jesus Franco, Maria Rohm
Genres: Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Jess Franco?s Supernatural Sex Stunner! Of the all the twisted hits from cult director Jess Franco (SADOMANIA, 99 WOMEN), this is the one that fans and critics alike call his masterpiece! James Darren (THE GUNS OF NAVARO... more »
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Franco's Psychedelic MindTrip now on an excellent DVD
dooby | 04/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Generally considered Jess Franco's finest work, Venus in Furs is the epitome of the Euro-cult exploitation/horror genre. It stars Franco favorite, Maria Rohm as Wanda and James Darren as Jimmy, the Jazz trumpeter. Jimmy sees Wanda being whipped and stabbed to death in an S&M scene gone awry. He flees but finds her mutilated body washed ashore on a beach in Istanbul. He then flees halfway round the world to Rio de Janeiro. But horror of horrors, Wanda or someone who looks like her walks into the Jazz club where he's performing. He falls for her and they become a couple, much to the consternation of his girlfriend played by the black singer Barbara McNair. Suddenly, one by one, the people responsible for Wanda's death, end up dead, beginning in Rio and ending up back in Istanbul. Is Wanda really dead? Is it her spirit coming back for revenge? Well, as we find out, Wanda really is dead and so it eventually turns out, is he. Is your head spinning yet? In this acid-tinged psychedelic movie, it really isn't all that important. It runs on a logic all its own. But the final twist, which predates The Sixth Sense by decades, brings this trippy masterpiece to a fitting close. Audience reaction to this movie often falls into two diametrically opposite camps, either you love it, or you detest it. I found it very enjoyable and taken as a whole, the most satisfying of all of Franco's works.
Among Franco's output, this has probably the least amount of gratuitous nudity or sex, and what there is of it, is beautifully lensed by Angelo Lotti, in his only collaboration with the director. None of the cheesy soft-porn fare we see in his other films. In fact this has probably the best camerawork in all of Franco's movies. With its use of a classy jazz score, specially written and played by Manfred Mann and Mike Hugg, psychedelic imagery, glossy sets and generally high production values, it transcends its sexploitation origins.
On a separate note, do not confuse this work with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's literary classic of the same name. The only similarity is the title and the name of the main character, Wanda. Franco's explanation tells us the reason. His film was orginally titled Black Angel and he originally envisioned a black actor for the male lead. But social attitudes at the time prevented the casting of a black actor having intimate relations with a white woman. Hence the change to a white male lead. Then the money-men decided they wanted him to produce a film based on Masoch's novel "Venus in Furs". As he was already planning to film Black Angel, he conveniently changed the title, gave his main star Maria Rohm a full length fur-coat to put on, changed a few things in the script and hey presto, his Black Angel became overnight what the producers wanted, "Venus in Furs". This sleight of hand to get funding for his movie meant that the film had little in common with the original novel. The kindest thing is to say that it was inspired by Masoch's novel. By the way, Masoch's novel has been translated many times into film, some bearing the original title, others not. Franco's version bears the least resemblance to it. (Masoch is the origin for the word masochist which is what the protagonist in the novel was and what he definitely isn't in this movie).
Blue Underground has done a remarkable job restoring and remastering this film for DVD. It is not perfect but for a film shot in 1969, it looks stunning. The colors are rich and vibrant, skintones are accurate, black levels are spot on with impressive image detail. Film grain is visible throughout, especially in outdoor shots but this isn't too distracting. There are dirt specks and debris in certain scenes, especially in the slow-mos, which makes you wonder if they were culled from different sources. But for most of the movie, picture quality is simply outstanding. Blue Underground presents the film in its original 1.85:1 widescreen with anamorphic enhancement. Sound is 2.0 mono but a very beautifully recorded and remastered mono it is. No hiss, no crackle. The music comes though crystal clear and with great presence. Voices are dubbed throughout although all the actors spoke english. While James Darren and Barbara McNair dub their own parts, we never get to here Maria Rohm, Margaret Lee or Klaus Kinski. With each new release I stand in awe of Blue Underground. They are to Genre/Cult films what Criterion is to mainstream cinema classics.
Extras include a 20min interview with Franco where he discusses the genesis of the film, an 11min audio-only interview with Maria Rohm who declined to be filmed preferring fans to remember her as the radiant beauty she was in her heyday, a single US trailer for the movie and finally a gallery of stills and posters. A treasured addition to any Franco or Euro-cult collection."
Visual and aural delight.
Chris | Australia | 04/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a movie masterpiece make no mistake about it. It combines erotica, surrealism, mystery and stunning scenery interwoven with inspiring jazz music. The backdrops of Rio and Istanbul in the late 60's are as exotic as the storyline itself. This is the tale of a jazz trumpeter who finds a girl washed up on a lonely beach. He realises that he has seen her years earlier at a party getting involved in a "heavy scene" of sadistic sex games. Then she arrives alive once again to revisit her old acquaintances and lead our trumpeter on a confused journey of self-discovery. The plot is mildly surreal, but genuinely captivating. The allusions to risque sex are dealt with tastefully as erotica and not porn. The soundtrack is just brilliant - a memorable highlight of the film. Whereas some of Jess Franco's movies loose the plot in parts, this is tight and brilliant from start to finish. The power of this film is only going to grow with time. The print copy on this DVD is good - like every other blue underground release I've seen it is colourful and beautiful to look at. The DVD also has enough extras to keep people happy."
Psychedelic cinema at its best
Orrie Hitt | 06/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Legendary cult director Jess Franco has made a staggering amount of films in his career, and regardless of how non-existent the budget or incoherent the narrative is, nearly all of his pre-1980 work is at the very least interesting, and in many cases, fascinating. Jess Franco always provides us with sensuous eye candy and a great soundtrack, but in the case of "Venus in Furs", he goes far beyond that and creates a film that is more than just a great exploitation film - it's a great film period.
Along with his two other masterworks, "Vampyros Lesbos", and "She Killed in Ecstacy", this is one of the few Franco films that has not only a strong story idea to start with, but a solid and well paced narrative to carry it along. The film benefits enormously by a great cast, anchored by leading man James Darren, who turns in a low-keyed, solid performance that is reminiscent of something you might see in a Hitchcock or early Brian Depalma film. Maria Rohm is as sensuous and captivating as ever, and both the lucious Barbara Lee and the sultry Barbara McNair round out what might be one of the best trio of "Franco women" ever cast together in one of his films. Also on hand is Franco/Euro-horror regular Klaus Kinski. He is solid as usual.
It goes without saying that the movie looks great (given the age of the film, the transfer is superb), and is loaded with erotic imagery, but Franco outdoes himself here. The score by Manford Mann and Mike Hugg is outstanding and goes a long way toward creating the film's hypnotic atmosphere. This is a movie that Franco buffs and fans of Euro exploitation will simply love. Even non-Franco film buffs who enjoyed the likes of "Jacobs Ladder", and Mary Lambert's "Siesta", also might want to check it out."
She's got it. Yeah, baby, she's got it.
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 02/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls" actually made sense to you, then you likely have the correct mindset to appreciate this trash epic from director Jesus "Jess" Franco. "Carnival Of Souls" meets "Blow-Up" in this gothic-horror-psychedelic-sexploitation fest. Light on plot but heavy on atmosphere and rich cinematography. Maria Rohm is the mysterious siren who stirs the loins of a brooding jazz trumpet player, played with a perpetually puzzled expression by James "Moondoggie" Darren. Temporarily forgetting that he has a girlfriend (Barbara McNair, who would probably prefer that we not remember her for appearing in the worst Elvis movie ever, "Change Of Habit"), Darren follows Rohm to the back room of a mansion, just in time to witness her (apparent) demise at the hands of a decadent playboy socialite (the ever disturbing Klaus Kinski) and several of his kinky friends, who all appear to first enjoy a little sado-masochistic foreplay with the victim. Some time later, Darren is playing his trumpet on the beach, where Rohm's body washes onshore. Next thing we know, she has somehow "revived" and sets out to wreak revenge on her tormentors, in between love scenes with Darren (Or did she ever really exist, outside of Darren's mind? Tune in to find out!) Believe it or not, the story was allegedly "inspired" by a conversation director Franco once had with the tragically doomed jazz great Chet Baker. Manfred Mann and his band (circa 1969) supply a surprisingly accomplished jazz score (which involves slightly more complex chord chemistry than, say, "Do Wah Diddy"). Darren actually played his own solos (he apparently started in show biz as a trumpet player!) Blue Underground does a nice job with packaging and remastering, and adds present day interviews with the director and star Rohm. Would make a perfect double bill with "Siesta" (if someone would ever release it on DVD-hint hint Blue Underground!)."