Jesús Franco

Jesús Franco
Jesús Franco
Born Jesús Franco Manera
12 May 1930 (age 81)
Madrid, Spain
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).


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
2008 A Bad Day at the Cemetery Crypt of the Cursed Women
2010 Paula-Paula: an Audiovisual Experience

Further reading

  • 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

External links

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  • Jesús Franco Manera — Jess Franco Jess Franco (* 12. Mai 1930 in Madrid; mit vollem Namen: Jesús Franco Manera) ist ein spanischer Regisseur, Drehbuchautor, Filmemacher und Schauspieler. Franco genießt auf Grund seiner teils um sadomasochistische und surrealistische,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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