• Cries Of Pleasure (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: February 25th, 2020.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Lina Romay, Robert Forter, Rocío Freixas, Elisa Vela, Juan Soler
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Amazon

    Cries Of Pleasure – Movie Review:

    Jess Franco’s 1983 picture Cries Of Pleasure is an interesting one. The entirety of the story takes place pretty much over a single night in an ornate mansion. This less than humble abode is the home of Antonio (Antonio Mayans, credited as Robert Foster) who has brought his mistress, Julia (Lina Romay), over for a prolonged conjugal visit. This just so happens to be timed as his wife, Martine (Rocío Freixas), is released from the insane asylum where she’s been interred for the last few months or so.

    Antonio’s plan is use Julia to help him stir up Martine’s mental issues and essentially give her a breakdown strong enough to send her back to the asylum. However, as the evening’s kink factor intensifies, things soon start to twist. Before you know it, Marta the maid (Elisa Vela as Jasmina Bell) is dead and Martine and Julia seem more interested in one another than in Antonio. Oh, and there’s a guy named Fenul (Juan Soler, credited as Juan Cózar) hanging out, watching people get it on and playing guitar.

    The plot in this one isn’t particularly dense, what’s there exists to string together a series of graphic (though not hardcore) scenes of copulation between the various characters. That said, there’s something to this film, something that makes it more interesting than your typical early eighties bump and grind fest. The visuals are interesting and very strong, with some inventive handheld camerawork creating some interesting moments of genuine tension, sexual or otherwise. The location that Franco secured for the picture is almost reason enough to want to see the film on its own, it is a legitimate architectural marvel. Franco always had a knack for finding the right place to stage even his poorest efforts, but the mansion used here and the beautiful around surrounding it really stands out – it’s impressive!

    However, Cries Of Pleasure (or Gemidos de placer en espanol if you prefer) is, at its core, a reasonably plotless affair and this will be sure to put some folks off. Granted, half of the appeal of his movie from this period is the chance to see his muse, Lina Romay, doing her thing in her birthday suit – which she does often and with uninhibited enthusiasm in this picture – but those expecting more of a story may be disheartened. That said, if you enjoy Franco’s more personal endeavors, those that feel as if there were made for an audience of one (that audience being behind the camera rather than in front of a screen) will find a fair bit to appreciate here. The mood and the atmosphere that makes his work as compelling as it is seeps into the latter half of the film. There is an odd sense of sadness to some of the picture and this does manage to engage us and the score is quite effective. On top of that, Lina and the rest of the cast have clearly committed to their respective parts, they do fine work here.

    Cries Of Pleasure – Blu-ray Review:

    Cries Of Pleasure comes to Blu-ray from Severin Films taken from a new 4k scan of the original negative and framed in its original 2.35.1 widescreen aspect ratio and it looks really good. There is some of the director’s trademark soft focus employed here and there and the more voyeuristic aspects of the cinematography don’t always allow for the sharpest of ultra-sharp detail in some shots, but overall there’s little to complain about – this looks like a really solid representation of how we can assume the film was meant to be seen. And that’s not to say that detail is bad, because it isn’t at all, especially in close up shots or shots where the camera actually seems to be mounted on a tripod of some sort. Colors look fantastic, frequently quite beautiful, and skin tones appear naturally throughout. There are no noticeable issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement and compression artifacts thankfully never rear their ugly heads. This looks nice and filmic and the elements used appear to have been in good shape, as while there are white specks and small scratches here and there you won’t see any major damage.

    The only audio option on the disc is a Spanish language DTS-HD Mono track. The track is nicely balanced and it sounds fine. The score has a surprising amount of depth to it for a relatively older single channel mix and the dialogue is clean and clear sounding, despite a few moments of minor sibilance. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start off with In The Land Of Franco Part One, a twenty-one-minute travelogue of sorts hosted by author and Franco biographer Stephen Thrower. In this piece, which is the first of a few entries in the featurette line to be included on Severin Franco Blu-ray releases, we visit Portuguese locations used in such Franco classics as Succubus and Die Sklavinnin, The Sadist Of Notre Dame, The Daughter Of Dracula, The Erotic Rites Of Frankenstein and Devil’s Island Lovers, The Demons, A Virgin Among The Living Dead and a few other titles. As we tour these interesting, and often times very old, buildings we learn about their history and their importance in the director’s work. We also learn how editing tricks allowed Franco to get very good at taking certain shots from certain locations and cutting them together to create a cohesive whole. Very interesting stuff.

    Up next is When Donald Met Jess and Lina Part 1, an eleven-minute segment from an interview that filmmaker Donald Farmer conducted with Franco and Romay in 1993. Taken from a VHS source, this intimate little piece is quite charming in its way. The pair talks about their work together, their reputation in the Spanish film industry and more.

    Thrower shows up again in the twenty-seven-minute Jess Franco’s Golden Years featurette. This covers in quite a bit of detail the work that Franco did for Golden Films International. He talks about this and other Golden Films productions, how Franco came to be affiliated with them, some of what sets this period of his work apart from other periods in his filmography, as well as how and why the company eventually folded.

    Menus and chapter selection options are also provided on the disc.

    Cries Of Pleasure – The Final Word:

    Cries Of Pleasure is quirky, kinky, sexy and weird. Like a lot of Franco’s pictures, it has a very strange personal feel to it at times and there are moments where the picture dabbles in oddball surrealism, but it is compelling in the way that so much of the late director’s work tended to be. Severin’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds very good and it has some strong extras as well, making this easy to recommend for fans of the man’s output.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. cmeffa's Avatar
      cmeffa -
      This is one of Franco's top films in my book. Absolutely amazing cinema. Thanks for the review.