Currently reading : Blood Thirsty Lesbians Ruined My Sheets: Jesus’ Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos.
It’s hard to resist a man with a dirty mind, more so an older man with a vast erotic filmography that explores transgressive carnal desires. ‘A Buttcrack for Two’ (1982), ‘Around the World in 80 Beds’ (1976), ‘In the Castle of Bloody Lust’ (1967), ‘The Girl In the Transparent Panties’ (1980), ‘A Virgin Amongst the Living Dead’ (1972) are just a few of the many salacious film directed by the sexually crude Jesus Franco. An obvious Sang Bleu favourite, his fearless style of filmmaking has the strange and extraordinary salivating at his sado-erotic web of dreams.
Franco’s films have recently been immortalised in Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco by Stephen Thrower and Julian Grainger released by Strange Attractor Press. This immense catalogue, the first of a two-volume set, works through some of his 180 films that spanned his 60-year career. Revealing some of the lesser-known films – his waves from erotic, horror and comedy to uncovering secrets from casts and productions, the book provides an authoritative reflection on his vast body of work. To celebrate here at SB we explore the dark dance of seduction that is Vampyros Lesbos (1970) because bloodthirsty hunger is the highest form of flattery.
A soft core dreamscape of lesbian fantasy, less horror about the un-dead, more unrivalled passions of unbound sensuality, Vampyros Lesbos is, as expected, the queer retelling of Dracula. A recurring erotic dream. A woman fuelled by an unknown pull towards an indistinguishable feminine object of desire. Brought to light when the dreamer Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Stomberg) meets Countess Nadine Carody (the painfully sexual, Soledad Miranda) whom she recognises as the woman of her fantasies. Seduction ensues. Linda is cast under a spell; she cannot stop her lurid thoughts about their encounters and the parade of darkness surrounding the Countess possesses her every move. Linda the moth caught in the net curtain, the kite trying to gain the sky but crashing to the ground. The Countess; a scorpion, a single drop of blood flooding a glass pane. Highly saturated colours and strange kinetic camera angles dart and zoom around the screen, add to the dream-esqe quality of the film and heighten the sexual atmosphere.
The Countess Nadine Carody slinks through the scenes as if a fortress of seduction. We are introduced to her thirst as she writes in complete ecstasy upon a nightclub floor and seduces what appears to be a female mannequin, but in reality is the real flesh and blood of a woman – as Linda and her boyfriend watch on. The Vampire Lesbian possesses voracious sexual desire, she opens up an explicit relationship between sex, violence and death. The blood she craves is a vital element of fertility and assurance of fecundation. She enfolds her victims in an apparent or real erotic embrace before she strikes, unearthing many representations of women – the victim, the monster, and the lesbian. This sexually charged aggressive woman is at its core a strong, powerful representation of desire, refusing to follow the rules of proper sexual conduct. Her animalism defines her; she threatens the formal and symbolic relations between men and women – essential to the continuation of a patriarchal society. She disrupts identity and order, and by default is a career woman.
Our Countess is an independent figure. In her narrative she holds the frame with a force of will. Blood, as a bodily emission, is itself an abject subject Her hunt for blood and her willingness to let other women bleed is itself abjection. The release of the victim’s blood, in direct opposition to her alliance with the natural world, signifies a threatening of castration as she crosses the gender boundaries. Her menstrual flow is a secondary existence. She like other Vampire Lesbians before her highlight the ways in which a vampiric woman reflects both the horror premise that a powerful woman is a direct threat – a bloodsucker, revelling in domination. The sudden transformation of the victim after she has been bitten – risen and filled with sexual energy seeking out her own victims/partners brings to surface the phenomenon of girls wanting to commence masturbating with their first menstruation. Most scenes of conquest are marked with a sensual and expectant air of a willing victim; she yearns for this rite of passage. The Vampire lesbian is the sexual initiator par excellence.
Teeth penetrating the skin, blood flow. You are transformed from an innocent into a creature of the night, who has become sexually awakened and now a threatening female figure. Terrifying and seductive.
Vampyros Lesbos will be shown on the 29th June at the Prince Charles Cinema, London – http://www.princecharlescinema.com/events/events.php?seasonanchor=vamples worth a watch especially for the fetish fabulous costumes.