- Jesús Franco
Jesús Franco Born Jesús Franco Manera
12 May 1930 (age 81)
Occupation Director, screenwriter, cinematographer, actor Years active 1959 to present
Jesús "Jess" Franco (born 12 May 1930 as Jesús Franco Manera) is a Spanish film director, writer, cinematographer and actor. His career took off in 1961 with his cult classic The Awful Dr. Orloff, which received wide distribution in the United States and England. Though he had some American box office success with Necronomicon (1967), Ninety-Nine Women (1968) and his two Christopher Lee films, The Bloody Judge and Count Dracula, he never achieved wide commercial success. Franco moved from Spain to France in 1970 so that he could make more violent and sexual films, and it was at this point that his career began to go downhill commercially, as he turned to low-budget filmmaking with a heavier accent on adult films. Although he produced a few well-received, low budget horror films in the early 70's (Dracula vs Frankenstein, Vampyros Lesbos, A Virgin Among the Living Dead), many people in the industry considered him a porn director due to the huge number of X-rated adult films he began churning out. Franco returned to low-budget horror in a brief comeback period from 1980-1983 (Bloody Moon, Mondo Cannibale, Oasis of the Zombies), but after 1983, his career took a second downturn as he drifted back into porn. With the exception of his Faceless (1988) and Killer Barbys (1996), his post-1983 films are almost unwatchable due to the incredibly low budgets he was forced to work with. Franco has nevertheless retained a large cult following through the years with his sexually-charged horror films, some of which are regarded as masterpieces by his avid followers. Franco's fans tend to obsessively collect all of his films (both the good and the execrable), and line up for hours at horror conventions for a chance to meet him in person.
Franco has sometimes worked under various pseudonyms, including David Khune and Frank Hollmann. A big fan of jazz music (and a musician himself), many of his pseudonyms are taken from famous jazz musicians, such as Clifford Brown and James P. Johnson. Franco made a half-dozen films starring the Spanish beauty Soledad Miranda, and when she was killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1970, he took a teenage actress named Lina Romay under his wing and made her his new "star". Since 1971, Romay has been his most often utilized actress, as well as his life companion, soulmate and muse.
Franco's themes often revolved around lesbian vampires, women in prison, surgical horror, sadomasochism, zombies and sexploitation (including several films based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade). Franco also worked in other exploitation film genres, such as cannibal films, spy films, giallo, crime films, science fiction, jungle adventure, exorcist films, war movies, historical dramas and nunsploitation. His main claim to fame is that he has managed to write and direct close to 160 motion pictures in his lifetime, encompassing a wide swath of different genres, with practically no financial backing available to him.
His sex movies often contain long, uninterrupted shots of nude women writhing uncontrollably on the floor or in a bed (such as in Lorna The Exorcist and The Bare-Breasted Countess). Most of his hardcore films starred his companion Lina Romay, who has admitted to being an exhibitionist. Franco is also notorious for his use of hand-held camera and zoom shots, which he feels actually lends realism to his films.
He has frequently worked with genre actors Howard Vernon, Antonio Mayans, Paul Müller, Christopher Lee, Soledad Miranda, Maria Rohm, Lina Romay and Klaus Kinski. Kinski was famous for his hatred of directors, but according to Franco, he never had any trouble working with him.
Franco was supposed to direct a film for Eurocine Productions in 1980 called Lake of the Living Dead but he could not do it, so producer Daniel Lesouer hired Jean Rollin to direct it (later retitling it Zombie Lake). Lesouer then had Jean Rollin direct some newly-filmed zombie footage to be inserted into Franco's A Virgin Among The Living Dead (1971) for its 1981 re-release. Franco purists today insist that "Virgin" be released in its former unadulterated form on DVD, as the added Jean Rollin footage greatly slowed down the pace of the film. Franco was later hired by Lesouer to direct a film for Eurocine called Oasis of the Zombies (1981), which had a plot similar to Zombie Lake (also involving revived Nazi zombies).
Films Year Title Alternative Title(s) Notes 1959 We Are Eighteen 1960 Red Lips Queen of the Tabarin 1961 Vampiresses 1930 The Awful Dr. Orloff Gritos en la Noche · Screams in the Night 1962 Death Whistles the Blues La Muerte Silba Un Blues The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus Hand of a Dead Man 1963 The Jaguar Sfida Selvaggio/ Savage Challenge Rififi in the City 1964 Dr. Orloff's Monster The Secret of Dr. Orloff · The Mistresses of Dr. Jekyll 1965 The Diabolical Dr. Z Miss Muerte · Miss Death 1966 Attack of the Robots Cards on the Table · Cards Face Up Residence for Spies 1967 Lucky the Inscrutable Necronomicon Succubus · Necronomicon Dreamt Sin 1968 Kiss Me, Monster Besame Monstruo Two Undercover Angels Red Lips Sadisterotica The Blood of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu and the Kiss of Death · Kiss and Kill The Castle of Fu Manchu The Girl from Rio Su-muru · City Without Men 99 Women Marquis de Sade's Justine Deadly Sanctuary 1969 Eugenie, The Story of Her Journey into Perversion Les Inassouvies · The Insatiable Ones Venus in Furs Black Angel · Paroxismus The Bloody Judge Throne of Fire · Night of the Blood Monster · The Witch-Killer of Blackmoor Count Dracula 1970 Sex Charade Eugenie de Sade 2000 Nightmares Come at Night Eyes of the Night Vampyros Lesbos Las Vampiras She Killed in Ecstasy Mrs. Hyde The Devil Came from Akasava The Death Avenger of Soho Death Packs His Suitcase X-312 Flight to Hell The Revenge of Dr. Mabuse The Vengeance of Dr. Mabuse 1971 Virgin Report Jungfrauen Report Robinson and His Wild Slaves Sexy Darlings · Three Naked Women on Robinson Island Dracula vs Frankenstein Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein · The Screaming Dead A Virgin Among the Living Dead Christina, Princess of Eroticism Lovers of Devil's Island Devil's Island Lovers Daughter of Dracula 1972 The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein The Curse of Frankenstein The Demons She-Demons · Les Demons · The Nuns of Clichy Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac Sinner Dolls For Sale The House of Vice · Vibrating Girls · Les Ebranlees A Captain of 15 Years Silence of the Grave Un Silencio de Tumba The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff The Eyes of Dr. Orloff Mystery of the Red Castle unfinished 1973 The Other Side of the Mirror The Obscene Mirror How to Seduce a Virgin Pleasure for Three · Beyond the Grave The Bare-Breasted Countess Female Vampire · Le Comtesse Noire · The Loves of Irina · Erotikill · Les Avaleuses · The Swallowers Maciste vs. the Amazon Queen Lustful Amazons The Erotic Exploits of Maciste in Atlantis Les Gloutonnes · The Gobblers Kiss Me Killer unfinished Linda's Hot Nights Who Raped Linda? The Perverse Countess Les Croqueuses · La Comtesse Perverse · The Munchers Tender and Perverse Emanuelle Relax, Baby unfinished 1974 Night of the Skull Sospiri · Night of the Killers Celestine, Maid at your Service Sexy a Go-Go The Sexiest Man in the World Exorcism and Black Masses Exorcisme Lorna the Exorcist The Devil's Possessed The Ticklish Ones Les Chatouilleuses · Nuns in Madness The Troublemakers Les Emmerdeuses 1975 Lady Porno Midnight Party Shining Sex The Girl With the Shining Sex Two Women in a Golden Cage Razzia Sur le Plaisir De Sade's Juliette Barbed Wire Dolls Frauengefängnis · Caged Women Women Behind Bars Diamonds For Hell Downtown: The Naked Dolls of the Underworld The Portrait of Doriana Gray Doriana Gray The Slaves Die Sklavinnen Mandinga unfinished White Skin, Black Thigh 1977 Jack the Ripper Erotico Profondo Love Camp Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun Sexy Sisters Swedish Nympho Slaves Call of the Blonde Goddess Porno Shock Greta the Mad Butcher Ilsa The Wicked Warden · Ilsa Ultimate Power Wild Lust Women Without Innocence Wicked Women Women in Cellblock Nine Blue Rita Das Frauenhaus · House of Women 1978 They Do It All! Elles Font Tout I'm Burning Up All Over Cocktail Special Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties Opal of Fire Erotic Symphony 1979 The Sadist of Notre Dame Demoniac Mondo Cannibale Cannibals · White Cannibal Queen The Girls of the Copacabana Man Hunter Sexo Canibal · Devil Hunter · Mandingo Manhunter 1980 Sex Is Crazy Eugenie: The Story of a Perversion Pick-Up Girls The Girl in the Transparent Panties Sadomania: The Hell of Passion Hellhole Women The Story of Linda Naked Super-Witches of the Rio Amore Bloody Moon Die Sage des Todes · The Saw of Death · Profondo Tenebre 1981 Cecilia: Sexual Aberrations of a Married Woman Blue Underground Lake of the Virgins Night of the Open Vaginas The Hotel of Love Affairs The Hotel of Rendez-vous Oasis of the Zombies Abyss of the Living Dead · Blood-Sucking Nazi Zombies · Tomb of the Living Dead (alternate Spanish-language version) Macumba Sexual 1982 Moans of Pleasure Gemidos de Placer The Sexual Story of O Black Boots, Leather Whip The Inconfessable Orgies of Emanuelle Emanuelle Exposed The Sinister Dr. Orloff Macabre Experiments House of Lost Women The Night Has a Thousand Sexes The Intimate Confessions of an Exhibitionist A Buttcrack for Two Mansion of the Living Dead 1983 Lonely Road Camino Solitario Blood on My Shoes Alone Against Terror The Blues of Pop Street Fury in the Tropics Orgasmo Perverso Lillian the Perverted Virgin The Tanga Girls Revenge in the House Of Usher Neurosis The Grandfather, the Countess, and Scarlet the Naughty Scarlet Diamonds of Kilimandjaro Treasure of the White Goddess 1984 The Shadow of Judoka vs. Dr. Wong In Search of the Golden Dragon How Much Does a Spy Cost? Dirty Game in Casablanca White Bay Voices of Death Golden Temple Amazons A Cock for Three 1985 The Last of the Filipinas Bangkok: Appointment with Death Travel to Bangkok, Coffin Included The White Slave Lulu's Talking Butthole Lulu's Pacifier The Game Walks Among Whistles 1986 Slaves of Crime The Girl with the Red Lips The Suckers Las Chuponas For Babies, Warm Milk The Watcher and the Exhibitionist Bragueta Story unfinished AIDS, the 20th Century Plague unfinished Tribulations of a Cross-eyed Buddha unfinished 1987 Phollastia Falo Crest Dark Mission: Operation Cocaine Flowers of Evil 1988 Faceless Predators of the Night 1989 Esmeralda Bay The Fall of Eagles War Song 1990 Downtown Heat: Ciudad Baja Viper's Point 1992 Don Quijote 1994 Jungle of Fear unfinished 1996 Killer Barbys 1998 Tender Flesh Lust for Frankenstein Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula in 8 Legs to Love You 1999 Vampire Blues Red Silk Dr. Wong's Virtual Hell Broken Dolls 2000 Helter Skelter Blind Target 2001 Vampire Junction 2002 Jess Franco's Incubus 2003 Killer Barbys vs. Dracula 2005 Flowers of Perversion Flowers of Passion Snakewoman 2008 A Bad Day at the Cemetery Crypt of the Cursed Women 2010 Paula-Paula: an Audiovisual Experience
- Jess Franco, Memorias del tío Jess (2004) (autobiography, in Spanish)
- Stéphane du Mesnilot, Jess Franco - Énergies du fantasme (2004, in French)
- Alain Petit, Manacoa Files (1994–1999, in French)
- Lucas Balbo, Peter Blumenstock, Christian Kessler, Tim Lucas, Obsession - The Films of Jess Franco (1993)
- Tim Lucas, How to Read a Franco Film, in Video Watchdog n. 1 (1990) Article
- The book Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984 (1994) by Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs dedicates a chapter to him.
- Benedikt Eppenberger, Daniel Stapfer Maedchen, Machos und Moneten: Die unglaubliche Geschichte des Schweizer Kinounternehmers Erwin C. Dietrich. Mit einem Vorwort von Jess Franco. Verlag Scharfe Stiefel, Zurich, 2006, ISBN 3-033-00960-3
- (Italian) Robert Monell, Il codice segreto di Jesus Franco, in Nocturno Dossier n. 60, luglio 2007
- Jesus Franco at the Internet Movie Database
- http://www.santoandfriends.com (Hispanic horror film index)
Notable films directed by Jesús Franco 1960s 1970sVampyros Lesbos · She Killed in Ecstasy · The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein · Dracula: Prisoner of Frankenstein · A Virgin Among the Living Dead · Female Vampire · Barbed Wire Dolls · Lorna The Exorcist · Greta the Mad Butcher · Exorcism · Jack the Ripper · Man Hunter · Women in Cellblock 9 · Sadist of Notre Dame · Mondo Cannibale 1980s 2000sVampire Junction · Jess Franco's Incubus · Killer Barbys vs. Dracula · Snakewoman
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