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After her recent release from a deep psychiatric care, a Libertine-styled countess goes back to very evil ways, trainer her sights on a pretty girl with the intention to destroy her after fully corrupting her body and soul.
I've only seen about 15 Jess Franco films so far, which is actually saying very little considering the countless amount of films he made, and in spite of the beyond-awful conditions the print I watched had, "Al Otro Lado del Espejo" (which translates to English as "The Other Side of the Mirror") still managed to make a impression on me, and might as well be the finest Franco film I've seen so far. Coming straight after Soledad Miranda's death, and not unlike the interesting but deeply flawed "A Virgin Among the Living Dead", this one is a haunting, beautiful study on death and grief, that "mirrors" Franco's own emotional breakdown after the death of his muse. The story stars Emma Cohen as Anna - a young bride-to-be who suffers a breakdown after her father (Franco-regular Howard Vernon) commits suicide on the eve of her wedding. She then starts having visions of her father through mirrors, beckoning her, and soon enough, goes on a killing spree against the men who sexually arouse her. The script is very cleverly written, with well developed characters that you actually care for, as well as being filled with Greek-mythology symbolism and Freudian motifs. Franco also benefits largely from having one of the best actresses he ever worked with playing the lead role. Cohen has that same innocents, doe-eyed beauty of Jessica Harper in "Suspiria", and gives one harrowing, psychotic and ultimately hearth-breaking performance as our grieving protagonist. The music, as usual for a Franco film, has great importance within the context of the film (since Anna is a nightclub singer who often "escapes" from her hectic life by entering into a "purely musical" state of mind), and composer Adolfo Waitzman (who also scored the same year's "A Bell from Hell" and the underrated "Pensione Paura") just nails it with a wonderful jazzy score. Another great aspect of the film is that this is probably the first Franco film that was actually creeped me out, and predates "Candyman" for almost 30 as far as "making mirrors scary as Hell" is concerned. Although the version I saw of this film was in a terrible state and was actually hard to watch at times, the cinematography appeared to be quite good, thus making it even sadder that it isn't available in a remastered, polished DVD. Speaking of which, the film is only available (this cut, at least) in Spanish with no subtitles, but since this is a very visual film (and if you know the main plot beforehand), it's not hard to figure out what's going on. The major problem with this film is that it starts quite well, but looses steam in between the end of the second act and beginning of the third, as Franco seemingly forgets he is a doing a horror film and just throws a series of non-stop, dull "jam sessions" that, though somewhat relevant to the plot, go on for a bit too long, ruining the oppressive atmosphere it had been building for so long. Thankfully, the film gets it's steam back at the ending, which remains the most powerful, twisted and just plain haunting I've seen in a Franco film. Overall, a brilliant gem of Spanish horror film that, though not for everyone, is essential viewing for fans of Eurohorror and Jess Franco alike. 9/10 Be aware, however, that the film is available in three different versions. The original Spanish cut, which is the version I've seen and the one Franco prefers; the soft-core French version which replaces Howard Vernon for Lina Romay as Anna's dead nymphomaniac sister; and the hardcore Italian version that adds even more sex and sleaze to the French version. The last two versions, though I've never actually seen them, seemingly does to the film what "House of Exorcism" did to "Lisa and the Devil", totally butchering what the director was aiming for, and should be avoided unless you're a hardcore Franco fan.
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