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.
In medieval France, traveler Pygar tells he-man Karzan (Maciste in the French version) of his recent journey to a place called Antigua, and of its entire community of Amazons promising ... See full summary »
A young woman is hired to care for an elderly man who lives on an island off the Greek coast. When she arrives there the man warns her that his daughters are evil and dangerous. The woman ... See full summary »
According to legend, a group of women escaped from Atlantis just before the destruction of the continent. They took refuge on a mysterious island, and founded a kingdom. Men who dared ... See full summary »
What you first need to understand before watching Jess Franco's Paula-Paula is that it's not a normal movie. There's not script, there's a beginning and ending, but something else in ... See full summary »
A young woman visits her gravely ill grandmother at the family estate. On her death bed, the old woman reveals to her granddaughter the family curse: they're all vampires. The young woman ... See full summary »
A lawyer finds out that a young couple convicted of murder was in fact framed for the crime and goes to the prison with the hope of freeing them and learns the events that happened to the two from a fellow prisoner who helped them escape.
CELESTINE AN ALL ROUND MAID (Jesus Franco, 1974) **
To begin with, the opening credits of this English-dubbed version (of mediocre quality, which does not preclude a word of thanks from me to its enthusiastic supplier, a Venetian friend of mine!) omits any mention of it being in any way based on Octave Mirbeau's novel "Diary Of A Chambermaid", previously idiosyncratically filmed by Frenchman Jean Renoir in the U.S. and Spaniard Luis Bunuel in France (the very same situation as Jess Franco and his 'adaptation' except for the end result, of course!).
Since Franco's career has had many phases, most people are drawn to one while being disappointed or, like the undersigned, left scratching their head at virtually all the others. So far, I have tried films from all these various periods except for the latest (though I own the reasonably well-received SNAKEWOMAN  from it) but I find myself more comfortable with his work emanating from the 1961-1971 years. Others, however, consider his "Robert De Nesle" titles (dating approximately from 1970-1978) his most creative from which I only really like 3 i.e. 1971's A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD, 1973's THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR and 1974's LORNA THE EXORCIST. With this in mind, though I watched the film as part of my ongoing Bunuel retrospective, it is practically useless to compare it with his version (much less the Renoir one). The thing is that Franco has made of it a sex comedy complete with silly score pretty much on the similarly bawdy and vacuous lines (read invincibly low-brow) of Italian efforts dating from the same period and featuring any number of popular starlets (and which have by now acquired a largely undeserved cult reputation)!
To be honest, the only reason I ended up not rating this even less than I did was the fact that Celestine's presence in the household ultimately brought its members closer together. Incidentally, her obsession with sex (though, truth be told, all characters seem to share this and, by extension, so does the director amazingly, the script was written by Jess' wife Nicole Guettard, while the leading lady was her replacement in his life i.e. Lina Romay!) is excused here by making the heroine a prostitute (at one point, she 'services' practically the entire household in quick succession, having to hide away every 'client' with each new knock at her bedroom door!). At least, Franco displays some inventiveness with the sex scenes so as to avoid slipping into hardcore territory (were it that he adopted this much tact more often)!
The cast is peppered with his regulars from this era, notably Howard Vernon (embarrassing as a bed-ridden old-timer), Pamela Stanford (playing the naïve daughter here, this at least attests to her versatility since she would play the witch Lorna soon after!), Lynne Monteil (whom I had liked in the same year's EXORCISM, now as the lady of the house), Monica Swinn (curiously uncredited) but, unfortunately, also Bigotini (who with his plump features and thick whiskers makes for the least ideal lover one could imagine, and a far cry from his sinister counterpart in the Renoir and Bunuel versions!). In the end, having finally just purchased Mirbeau's source novel, I know there is little chance of it being closer to the Franco film than those of the two more renowned directors (both of whom are among my absolute favorites). Then again, the person who regaled me with this copy of CELESTINE also sent along a book he edited and personally contributed to about "Uncle Jess" (as he is affectionately called by hardened fans) which I appreciated a great deal more (and intend delving into in the near future) than this very minor effort in his never-ending legacy...
7 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?