• Female Vampire (Blu-ray)



    Released by: Kino-Lorber/Redempion Films
    Released on: 10/16/2012
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, Jess Franco, Alice Arno, Monica Swinn, Jean-Pierre Bouyxou
    Year: 1973
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    The Movie:

    A young Lina Romay plays Countess Irina, sole heir of the notorious Karlstein family fortune. She was born mute, but more tragically she was born with the vampire curse her family passed down to her. She has a thirst only slaked by blood and semen, and she gets her meals from both men and women. With her brutish assistant/thrall at her side, played by Luis Barboo (a character actor, one of those “oh hey, THAT guy”…), she lives her lonely life, reluctantly killing people she has sex with in order to survive. This keeps her from ever getting close to anyone and forces her to live a life of solitude.

    Irina meets a baron (Jack Taylor) and the two become more than acquaintances, but Irina can’t mask her true nature, and things don’t turn out so well for the horny baron. Meanwhile, after killing a journalist (Alice Arno) and a couple others, Dr. Roberts (played by the director) and his buddy Dr. Orloff (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou) start piecing things together and realize just what the Countess really is, and an effort is made to destroy her.

    In a nutshell, that’s the story as understood by this viewer. Characters come into the movie and leave (dead) such as a dominatrix and a poolside journalist. They all fall under Irina’s spell, who is nude nearly nude at all times, and she kills them through fellatio and cunnilingus. If that doesn’t pique your interest then you’re probably not going to be all that into Female Vampire (aka The Bare Breasted Countess, aka Erotikill, plus others). This is not a typical vampire picture and is chock full of graphic nudity. But if the concept of a female vampire killing through genital siphoning sounds interesting, you’re right, it is. And with an 18 or 19 year-old Lina Romay, as the murderous leech maybe Dr. Orloff was right…it might not be a bad way to die.

    Lina is gorgeous as the Countess and is really the thing that keeps the movie for falling into absolute tedium. It really pokes along at a slow rate, and despite the fact that she’s mute and never utters any lines on camera (she narrates), this is a wordy movie. And Franco likes to linger on the female form (which isn’t a bad thing of course), but at times it seems to go on to long. Thankfully, it’s a young Lina and the long moments with little going on but her being naked are more than worth sitting through. Franco creates a great mood in this picture, and even though it does drag, there’s always something stimulating (not just the nudity) to drink in.

    Female Vampire
    has plenty to offer in the visual side, where it lacks on the story side. Watching Lina Romay writhe around on a bed naked, walk through the woods naked, or have her way with a bedpost totally makes up for whatever it may be missing in cerebral content. This cut is 30 minutes longer than the 70-minute version Erotikill, also included on the disc. The extended version contains more graphic sex scenes, and a heck of a lot more nudity than the shorter version. And since the movie is worth watching more than once, an alternate version being included in the disc is a great bonus.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The movie is presented with a ratio of 2.35:1, and while is absolutely watchable it’s certainly not on par with Kino’s restoration of other films in the Kino/Redemption Blu-ray series. Obvious print damage is seen throughout and it doesn’t seem as though much was done to clean it up. Detail is there though, and while the colors don’t hit you over the head they still look decent. Also, lots of grain is present, just as it should be. There is one weird section right around the 65-minute mark where the image jumps and goes double, but lasts a short while and goes back to normal. Presumably that’s not an authoring issue and is part of the print. The audio is mono track (French or English) that does the job without shining, and seems void of any excessive scratching. The music and dialogue seem balanced.

    The extras are great. The aforementioned 70-minute version Erotikill is included for starters. An interview (in French with English subtitles) with co-star Jean-Pierre Bouyxou runs around a quarter of an hour and he reminisces about Ms. Romay and her relationship with Jess Franco. It’s an interesting watch, with some interesting pieces, but doesn’t hold a candle to the interview with the director himself, filmed sometime after Lina’s death in February of 2012. Franco shares memories of the film and of her, and its sad seeing an old man getting a bit emotional about the love of his life. He talks about how they met, how he knew she was the woman for him…pretty touching. He also talks about his intentions with the character she portrays in the film and helps shed some light on the deeper meaning of her situation. The only complaint one might offer is that it’s too short. He’s such an interesting man and it’s always a treat to listen (and read) him talk.

    The Final Word:

    Probably one of the better known of Franco’s films, Female Vampire certainly deserves the accolades it’s gotten over the years. It may not be the most exciting of vampire movies, but it sure is one of the sleaziest. The Blu-ray is well worth plunking down the money for.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






























    Comments 2 Comments
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Hmmmm, I simply cannot decide if I want to try this one out. I am very happy with the Image disc, and this just doesn't scream massive upgrade to me.This does have the incut oral hijinx trimmed from the Image release though, correct?That might be enough, just to have the complete version of the film.
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      This isn't the hardcore version, so be aware of that too. I'm happy with the disc, but I didn't have this on DVD at all.