• Les Possèdèes Du Diable (Le Chat Qui Fume) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Le Chat Qui Fume
    Released on: September 1st, 2018.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Linda Romay, Jacqueline Laurent, Howard Vernon, Jesus Franco, Pamela Stanford, Guy Delorme
    Year: 1974
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    Les Possèdèes Du Diable – Movie Review:

    Lorna The Exorcist (or Les Possèdèes Du Diable en Francais, as it states on the packaging of this Blu-ray release from Le Chat Qui Fume) has had a fairly bizarre history. Director Jess Franco made it for producer Robert de Nesle who somehow marketed it as a supernatural horror film in the vein of Friedkin’s classic. It was cut and re-cut and eventually turned into a hardcore porno movie and it played under the alternate titles of Linda and Luscious Linda before heading off into relative obscurity for years. A cult audience grew around the film, however, and it was a popular grey market title for years thanks to bootleg releases from companies like Luminous Film And Video Works (who put out a bootleg English subtitled VHS release which was, for a long time, the only reasonable way for many of us to see the film). Mondo Macabro’s DVD finally presents the film in Franco’s original version (sans hardcore inserts) in respectable form on home video for the first time.

    The film, which doesn’t really have anything to do with exorcists at all, tells the story of a young woman named Linda (Lina Romay) who travels with her mother, Marianne (Jacqueline Laurent), and father, Patrick (Guy Delorme), to the coast for a vacation. They shack up in one of the most unusually designed hotels ever captured on film and decide to hit the ground running and spend the night dancing at a local discotheque. Linda, celebrating her eighteenth birthday, however has been plagued by some bizarre dreams involving lesbian encounters with a heavily made up blonde woman named Lorna (Pamela Stanford).

    As their vacation plays out, it comes to pass that eighteen years ago Patrick had an affair with Lorna, an otherworldly demoness of sorts who employs Howard Vernon as her man servant. She offered him her body and financial success in exchange for the daughter she knew he’d have with Marianne. Now she’s come to claim what believes to be rightfully hers, and strange things are afford, not the least of which involves nasty little sea crabs emerging from Marianna’s nether regions. While all of this is going on, a woman locked in an asylum (Catharine Lafferiere) writhes on a bed as she undergoes treatment from a doctor played by the director himself (look for the Les Demons one sheet hanging beside his desk).

    Very languidly paced and the very definition of dreamlike (or, if you prefer, plotless), Lorna The Exorcist does not move quickly nor does it tell a particularly riveting story. It’s predictable and slow and frequently shot from bizarre angles which suffer from inconsistent focus. That said, it’s also a pretty gripping movie. All the Franco kinks and quirks are there, from the fetishized use of the zoom lens to the pubic hair close ups to the requisite night club scene to his cameo and he somehow manages to make this one work. If the sex scenes are long and feel like nothing more than padding, well at least they’ve got enough of an erotic charge to them that you won’t mind so much. The fact that it’s all set to an enjoyable, if repetitive, fuzzed out score from composer Andre Benichou doesn’t hurt either.

    Really, though, it‘s the cast that makes this one work. Stanford, who appears to have taken make up lessons from The Drew Carey Shows Mimi, really does have an otherworldly vibe about her that makes her perfect for the part. Delorme and Laurent are fine as Lorna’s parents, and if they’re unusually comfortable with family nudity, I guess we can just assume they’re free spirits or something. The real star of the show, not so surprisingly, is Linda Romay. Franco’s obsessions with her have never been more apparent and while he gets us intimately acquainted with her crotch, she’s actually delivering a pretty smoldering performance. She’s got this look in her eyes during the last thirty minutes that really will have you convinced something supernatural is going on inside that head of hers and it is she, more so than Franco, that deserves the credit for making this truly bizarre film as interesting and watchable as it is.

    Note that the previously released DVD from Mondo Macabro does runs 99:29 versus this disc’s 98:02 – the difference in the running time between the two discs seems to be at the end where the Mondo Macabro disc uses footage of Romay’s character and then a lengthy black fade with music over top to prolong things. There doesn’t appear to be any other differences between the two versions of the movie.

    Les Possèdèes Du Diable – Blu-ray Review:

    French distributor Le Chat Qui Fume presents the film on Region B Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.66.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc with the ninety-eight-minute feature taking up just under 27GBs of space.

    A disclaimer appears at the beginning of the presentation indicating that for this transfer, two 35mm prints – one in better shape than the other - were used to create a composite. The negative for the feature is lost, and until better elements come along, this is probably as good as we’re going to get. It’s easy to see when the inferior source was used for the transfer, as those inserts look considerably worse for wear (there are a few screen caps below that look a bit more beaten up than the others) but thankfully the vast majority of this transfer is taken from the better quality print. It looks like this Blu-ray release was taken from the same source that was used for the Mondo Macabro disc. Colors match, print damage appears in the same spots – there are a lot of similarities – which is fine, as that disc looked quite good. The Blu-ray release does give us better texture and detail, however, even if it doesn’t rise to the best that the format can provide. Still, all in all this should please most Franco fans. It is a solid transfer, particularly when you take the history of the film and the elements available into account.

    DTS-HD Mono tracks are offered up in both English and French with optional English subtitles translating the French track. There’s some minor hiss in a few spots but otherwise the English track sounds fine from the sampling that was done for this review. The film plays better in French, however, and the quality of that track is pretty good, though there is still some hiss present that’s hard not to notice at times. Overall though, it’s fine – the score sounds good and the various freak outs in the movie sound quite good!

    Franco Le Possèdè, a forty-seven minute interview with actor Alain Petit. After that, there's Pamela Stanford, La Possèdè De Franco, which runs fourteen-minutes. Also included is Jesus Et Moi, a twenty-five-minute interview with actress Jacqueline Laurent (also found on Le Chat Qui Fume's Sinner Blu-ray). Unfortunately, all of these featurettes are in French without any subtitles of any kind except for the Laurent interview. In this piece she talks about her background working as an actress in the theater scene in Quebec, how she eventually wound up moving to France and working there and auditioning for some of the early roles she took in that country. She then talks about connecting with Franco and taking direction from him after her agent got her the chance to appear in his films, doing nudity in these pictures, how things could ‘fluctuate’ on his pictures, and details on what it was like to film some of the more memorable scenes she had a part in.

    The disc also includes trailers for Eyeball, The Contract, The Blood Rose, Come Cani Arrabbiati and Love And Death In The Garden Of The Gods. Menus and chapter selection are also included on the disc.

    As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie. Both discs are housed inside a sturdy fold out digipack that fits nicely inside a cardboard slipcover.

    Les Possèdèes Du Diable – The Final Word:

    Lorna The Exorcist is one of Franco’s more interesting films. Romay’s performance is remarkably charged and while the direction may seem disjointed at times, it adds to the quirky and dreamlike qualities that make the movie as engrossing as it is. Overall, there’s no reason anyone who enjoys Franco’s output won’t want to own this. The Blu-ray debut from Le Chat Qui Fume is a good one. Even if most of the extras are, sadly, not subtitled the presentation is quite strong.

    Click on the images below for full sized Les Possèdèes Du Diable Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      The Pamela Stanford interview has English subs too, it's really good.