Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
By: Drexl on November 18, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). German DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 85 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jess Franco
Starring:Ewa Strömberg, Soledad Miranda, Andrés Monales, Dennis Price
Screenplay: Jess Franco and Jaime Chavarri
Music:Manfred Huebler and Siegfried Schwab
Tagline: "A Psycho-Sexadelic Horror Freakout!"
Country: Spain/ West Germany
AKA: Die Erben des Dracula, Lesbian Vampires, Los Vampiras
Firstly I must 'fess up to not being the world's biggest Franco fan. In all honesty, far from it. Sure, a film called Vampyros Lesbos and with a woman that good looking on the cover should have been added to my collection as soon as it hit the stands but, nope, the two feared words - 'Franco' and 'Jess' (though not in that order) put this one pretty low down on my 'to purchase' list. Now, as Umbrella Entertainment brings this early slice of Franco weirdness to Australian video stores and a review copy to the TerrorOz mailbox, I'm required to check it out. Forced to. The gun's at my head...

After watching a performance by stunning striptease artist Nadine (Miranda), Linda (Stroemberg) finds herself joining Nadine, (who turns out to be Countess Nadine - clue number one), at her island retreat to tie up some property deal or similar. She is warned not to go as 'madness and death rule(s) the island' but finds herself drawn by the mysterious Countess. Her first few moments on the island with the Countess consist of a quick chat, followed by a brief bit of skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing. Linda soon discovers, over a glass or two of something passing as 'red wine', that Nadine's family tree contains one Count Dracula. (Unsubtle clues number two and number three.) The drink goes straight to Linda's head and she passes out at the table. Since a) this is a Jess Franco flick and b) it's entitled 'Lesbian Vampires', I figure that you can guess what comes next…

I never expected to use the words 'entertaining' or 'visually impressive' in the same sentence as 'Jess' and 'Franco' (see above) but, heck, Vampyros Lesbos is both. While it's fair to say that the film is, well - slightly lacking, in the plot department it does boast some great shots and some memorable set-pieces - the viewer should simply forget the film's shortcomings, plot-wise, and enjoy the eye-candy provided by Franco. The film's dream-like atmosphere is also helped by the gentle pace and some nicely lit scenes with strong reds being the order of the day (very Argento), all helped along by the insane but extremely enjoyable and appropriate music score.

It has to be said that the visual appeal of the film is not only in the set design and lighting but in the cast also. Both leading ladies are nothing short of stunning but the undoubted star of the show is Miranda - she really is one of the most gorgeous actresses to grace the Euro-Horror genre. (Miranda would make one more film with Franco before her death in a road accident, leaving Lina Romay to take up her post as Franco's leading lady.) Both actresses are happy to perform the film's almost constant nude scenes which, happily, remain softcore, avoiding the lame hardcore that Franco introduced into a few of his latter movies. Again, Miranda steals the show with two stunning striptease scenes that are without a doubt the most memorable sequences in the movie.

Yep, I loved this movie - it's mad, great too look at, carries an irresistible score and thoroughly entertains for the whole of its screen time. Blimey, a Franco flick I enjoyed! I'm almost sounding like a fan. Whatever next?
Umbrella's 16/9 enhanced transfer looks terrific; the transfer is free of print damage and carries good detail and the vivid colours are, thankfully, beautifully reproduced. Grain is only minor and, when the age of the film is considered, Umbrella can be applauded for a job very well done.
The German language track is nicely done with no noticeable distortion present. The funky soundtrack (you'll grow to love it!) is also well reproduced. The English subtitles are accurate and very easy to read but non-removable.
Extra Features
A little light in the extras department, I'm sorry to say. A theatrical trailer for the main feature is included - incorrectly framed, no-subs and over-dark, running around two and a half minutes. A few trailers for other Umbrella goodies are also included, including a dire promo for Argento's Deep Red, but that's your lot as far as extras go. Oh yeah, there is a scene selection menu - betcha all feel real spoiled!
The Verdict
I approached this movie from a position of doubt, reluctant to subject myself to more Franco nonsense but I have to report that I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this film. Franco has served up a dreamlike slice of sleaze that is visually appealing (for a variety of reasons) and hugely entertaining - plus there is that music score to serve as the 'icing on the cake.' Great stuff.
Movie Score
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