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In the Madeira Island, the mute Countess Irina Karlstein is the last descendant of the evil Karlstein vampire family. She lives with her also mute servant and seems to be nymphomaniac, seeking for sex most of the time without satisfaction. Irina likes oral sex with men and women to suck off not only semen, but apparently also blood, killing her male and female lovers. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Female Vampire, or whatever you'd like to call it, is maybe a difficult film to rate/review, because there are supposedly so many different versions floating around. I watched the Image Entertainment Region 1 DVD released in 2000 (ID9105BIDVD). However, even though the film isn't a complete loss artistically, I can't imagine it getting a passing score unless there's a "version" out there that has completely different scenes than the film I watched, because this one was basically horrendous. This is the first Jesus Franco film I've seen so far that I have hated, but admittedly, I don't think I've even seen a quarter of them.
At least for this version of Female Vampire, there's an easy way to tell if you might like it. The film is basically 10 15 minutes of dialogue, scattered throughout, with ridiculously bad English language dubbing (no subtitles were available), and about an hour and 20 minutes of poorly filmed softcore porn, featuring mostly unattractive looking people (Lina Romay, the star, doesn't do much for me), alternated with scenes of people sitting and staring, random ocean shots, shots of an odd hood ornament from a car's windshield, etc. Basically, if you're into early 1970s softcore porn, then you should like Female Vampire.
Since Romay ended up as Franco's wife (I'm not sure if they were married before Female Vampire or not), it seems like maybe the film was just an excuse to get her naked and encourage her to have sex with a bunch of different people, including women (by the way, there was one woman whom I thought was attractive--the strawberry blonde--but she doesn't get very physical with anyone).
I actually watched the dialogue scenes twice to try to make some sense of the plot, because it's very "poetic" if we're being overly generous, and mostly incoherent gibberish if we're being honest. The first time through I had difficulty listening to more than a sentence or two at a stretch. Once it stopped making sense, my attention would wander.
But as far as I can tell the plot is something like this: Countess Irina Karlstein (Romay) ends up on the island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal, presumably because her family owns some property there. For some reason, there are a number of other people on the island who know something about her and who suspect that she's around. When corpses, who have been "sucked dry" by this female vampire, start showing up, it confirms the other characters' suspicions. The other characters include Baron Von Rathony (Jack Taylor), who likes to sit and stare at nature and read us passages from a travel guide, Dr. Roberts (none other than Jesus Franco, using the pseudonym of "Jess Franck" in this version), who does the autopsies on the bodies--which we unfortunately never get to see except for one humorous occasion, Dr. Orloff (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou), a blind doctor of something or other who gives us the weird autopsy occasion (it involves manually checking a female corpse's bite wound), Anna (who seems to have been played by two actresses, Gilda Arancio and Anna Watican), who is a journalist, and some other assorted men and women whom I could never figure out who they were. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Irina is mute through all of this. I don't know why. Maybe Romay has a voice like Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) in Singing in the Rain (1952).
Anyway, some of these characters encounter each other at various times and talk about Irina, the bodies, read more travel guide passages to us, randomly start muttering gibberish--er, uh, getting poetic--and so forth. There is little sense of a dramatic arc, there's no climax (snicker), and so on. Don't forget that this "plot" stuff takes up only about 10 15 minutes.
What happens instead is that Franco gives us a lot of lingering shots of Romay in various states of undress, occasionally wearing lingerie, with random out of focus zooms into her breasts, crotch, and so on. Just as often Romay is in various states of undress with another actor or two, and we get the same kinds of crappy shots, which show us extremely arbitrary "sex", before Romay "kills" her "lover/opponent" (in other words, before they stop moving). Most of the cinematography (unfortunately by Franco, as "Joan Vincent") in the film is really horrible. A large percentage of it is out of focus. It is often jerky. The zooms are ill timed, rough and awkward.
There was one softcore scene that was entertaining, if only because it was so odd. Romay starts making love to a bed--licking the bedpost, gyrating against it, mounting a long, round pillow, etc. Of course, the cinematography was crappy again, so it was difficult to award any bonus points.
All of this is accompanied by one of the two pieces of music that Franco paid for--some swanky jazz (almost Vince Guaraldi-ish) and more often, a melancholy orchestral piece that sounds like a mutation of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows". This latter piece receives some typical porno music variations, if that's the kind of music you're into.
And if the above doesn't dissuade you enough, by the last couple "love scenes", I had to fast forward through them a bit--something I _never_ do with any film--because I just couldn't take it any longer. Boring sex--I would have said it was an oxymoron before watching Female Vampire. The extra point I awarded was for the idea at the end of the film, where Romay is in a "bloodbath". There are almost a couple attractive shots in this scene, even if the "blood" looked more like light pink Kool-Aid.
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