• Hot Nights Of Linda, The



    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: October 8th, 2013.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Lina Romay, Alice Arno, Veronica Limera, Paul Muller
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    Jess Franco’s 1975 picture The Hot Nights Of Linda (also known as The Brutal Nights Of Linda and Who Raped Linda?) begins when a beautiful woman named Marie-France (Alice Arno) heads to Paris to start a new job as a secretary. Though the details of her new occupation are unusually sketchy, she knows she has to head to a stately mansion on a remote island off of the Greek coast to meet a Mr. Steiner (Paul Muller) who shares the home with his two women and their servant Abdul (Pierre Taylou). The young women in question are Steiner’s handicapped niece, Linda (Catherine Lafferière), and his insatiable daughter, Olivia (Lina Romay), the latter of who tries to coerce Marie-France into a lesbian fling shortly after her arrival.

    As Marie-France begins to get to know the family better, she can’t help but pay attention to Mr. Steiner’s drinking problem. This would seem to be a coping mechanism, as if he’s drinking to forget, but what exactly it is from his past that haunts him so much isn’t initially clear but it would seem to stem back to his late wife (Monica Swinn). As Marie-France tries to figure out just what exactly is going on here, Linda makes some moves towards Abdul and a reporter tries to get some shots of the poor woman, who spends a whole lot of time sunbathing in the nude, which he can use for nefarious purposes. As Marie-France’s presence seems to set off a string of carnal encounters, Steiner’s psyche starts to fray and things take a decidedly dark turn for all involved.

    Fairly well paced and obviously shot around the same time as Countess Perverse and How To Seduce A Virgin, The Hot Nights Of Linda is prime Franco, offering up heaping doses of everything you’d want out of one of his pictures. Of course, there are positives and negatives to this. We get gorgeous locations, beautiful women and loads of bizarre dream like atmosphere but we also get some of his trademark unrestrained zooms and a plot that often times chucks logic out the window.

    The performances here, however, really go a long way towards making this one as obsessively bizarre as it is. Muller is great as the brooding father figure, spending some of his time with a bottle but also excelling when it comes time for his character to lose his temper. Alice Arno is as strikingly beautiful here as she ever was, playing her naïve character rather well an exuding that sexuality that gives her such a strong screen presence. Lina Romay steals every scene she’s in, not quite going as sexually over the top as she has in some of her films but coming damn close. The scene in which she lovingly eats a banana stands out as a testament to just how unbridled her sexuality can get when shot with the care and attention that Franco affords her with this picture.

    Some of the comedic bits with the reporter feel out of place alongside the rest of the subject matter, as all of that material is treated seriously and played straight. That complaint aside, however, The Hot Nights Of Linda is quite well made. It won’t convince those who don’t already appreciate the director’s work as it’s just as obsessively perverse and bizarre as anything else he’s made. While the emphasis here is on sexuality more so than horror, it’s a picture that pushes back against convention in favor of allowing its director to work out his own issues up there on the screen, a trait which makes his pictures some of the more consistently interesting entries in the annals of Eurocult filmmaking.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Hot Nights Of Linda is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. Taken from the best film elements available, the picture shows print damage throughout and occasional color fading (in all fairness, there are also scenes where the colors look excellent) as well but does provide pretty decent detail for most of its running time. There doesn’t appear to be any noise reduction so expect a fair bit of grain but this is more than watchable. This is certainly miles above any of the bootleg versions that have been floating around over the years.

    The only audio option is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, there are no alternate language options or subtitles of any kind provided. There’s a bit of hiss here and there but overall the clarity is decent enough. The levels are properly balanced and the score sounds good, occasionally demonstrating some decent depth. It would have been nice to have some alternate language options here instead of just the English dub, but what’s here sounds fine.

    Extras on the disc kick off with a sixteen minute video interview with the late Jess Franco who provides some background information on the picture and notes how this was really the first time that he had written a large role specifically for Lina Romay. He tells some interesting stories about the cast and crew as well as the locations used for the picture and also talks about the alternate versions of the movie that exist. Franco appears again in a twelve minute interview with the late Romay at his side where they talk about their work together on this picture and their thoughts on the final product. Also included on the disc is some footage of Franco accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award given to him at Fantastic Fest a couple of years ago back in 2009.

    Stephen Thrower shows up here as well, spending twelve minutes on camera discussing his thoughts on the picture as well as what makes it unique in the director’s filmography. He offers up some critical analysis of the film as well as a good assortment of trivia. Thrower’s insight into Franco’s career has been a nice addition to a few of the recent Franco DVD and Blu-ray releases and his inclusion here is once again quite welcome.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are a theatrical trailer for the picture and six minutes of outtakes. Here we get some extra footage of Lina in action as well as some more footage of Alice Arno as well. Needless to say, this is good stuff. Menus and chapter stops are also included and as this is a combo pack release, Severin have also included a DVD version of the movie with the same extras on it.

    The first 2500 copies of this release come with an exclusive bonus DVD that contains what Severin are calling ‘The Hot Banana Version’ of the movie (and if you watch it, you’ll see why). Clocking in at just under eighty-minutes in length, this is more than just some bonus hardcore scenes tacked onto the movie, though that content (which Franco did shoot) does play a large part in this version, but is in fact a completely legitimate alternate version of the movie. In many ways this is a darker version of the movie, the comedic elements are left on the cutting room floor and the emphasis is instead on eroticism. There are different character development scenes here too, including one in which Romay’s character elaborates on her relationship with her aunt and uncle, which ties into the ending nicely. The ‘banana eating’ scene that’s in the version included on the Blu-ray isn’t included in this cut, but Lina finds other interesting things to do with the fruit instead. This version is sourced from a VHS tape (Severin did advertise this as such, so no one should be too surprised that the quality here is rough) but have at least subtitled the French language track.

    The Final Word:

    Severin have gone above and beyond with their Blu-ray release of The Hot Nights Of Linda. The transfer isn’t perfect but it’s quite a nice improvement over the tape sourced bootlegs that have made the rounds, while the extras add quite a bit of value to the set. The limited edition with the alternate version won’t be around forever, and is well worth getting. All in all, a pretty thorough release for an underrated Franco film, one that offers more than just cheap thrills (though it’s got plenty of those too) and which can hopefully now find a larger audience thanks to this release.

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