Vampyros Lesbos

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Vampyros Lesbos
Vampyros-lesbos-poster.jpg
German film poster
Directed by Jesús Franco
Nicole Guettard (uncredited)
Produced by Artur Brauner
Karl Heinz Mannchen
Written by Jaime Chávarri
Anne Settimo
Jesús Franco
Starring Soledad Miranda
Ewa Strömberg
Andrés Monales
Dennis Price
Jesus Franco
Paul Müller
Music by Jesús Franco
Manfred Hübler
Siegfried Schwab
Cinematography Manuel Merino[1]
Edited by Clarissa Ambach[1]
Production
company
Fénix Films
CCC Telecine Film[2]
Release dates
  • July 15, 1971 (1971-07-15) (Germany)
  • 1973 (1973) (Spain)
[3]
Running time
89 minutes[1]
Country West Germany
Spain[1]
Language German[1]

Vampyros Lesbos (Spanish: Las Vampiras) is a 1970 West German-Spanish horror film directed and co-written by Jesús Franco. Soledad Miranda plays the lead character of a vampire, and completed her role shortly before she was killed in a car accident in Portugal in the summer of 1970. The film also stars Ewa Stroemberg as Linda Westinghouse, an American beauty who works for a Turkish legal firm. Westinghouse has a series of erotic dreams that involve a mysterious vampire woman who seduces her before feeding on her blood. When she travels to an island to settle an inheritance, Linda recognizes the woman who owns the beachfront estate as the vampire woman from her dreams.

The film was shot in 1970 in Turkey, Spain and West Germany. It was a popular success in theaters in Europe on its release and was the first film to have a more psychedelic score for a Franco film and the first to have a lesbian theme as a prominent feature of the film. The film's score became popular in the mid-1990s when it was included on the compilation Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party, an album that became a top ten hit on the British Alternative charts.

Plot[edit]

On a remote island, beautiful bloodsucker Countess Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda) lures unwary victims with her seductive nightclub act on the mainland, and sets her sights on Linda (Ewa Strömberg) whom she sees in the audience. Linda begins having dreams about Nadine, and seeks her home on an island. She is interrupted by Memmet (Jesus Franco), a creepy individual who warns her not to go to the island. Linda follows Memmet to his chamber where she walks in on him torturing a young woman. She escapes this encounter and proceeds to the island.

On the Island, Linda meets Nadine. The two go swimming on the beach and Nadine notes that the home they are staying at used to belong to the original Count Dracula. After Linda begins to feel dizzy from drinking wine, Nadine takes her to a room where the two have sex and Nadine draws blood from Linda's neck. Linda later finds Nadine motionless floating in a swimming pool, satiated with blood, and she faints.

The next day, a female mental patient named Agra (Heidrun Kussin) appears in mental distress at a hospital, where she claims to have visions of Nadine. She is under the care of Dr. Seward (Dennis Price) who then treats his newest patient, Linda, who has no memory of her encounter with Nadine. At Nadine's home, the vampiress reappears alive and recounts to her servant Morpho (José Martínez Blanco) the story of how she became a vampire and her obsession with Linda who she wishes to become a vampire.

Nadine uses her telepathic powers to contact Linda to force her to return to her island where the two drink blood and have lesbian sex. Dr. Seward informs Linda that to remove herself from the vampire's thrall, she must split the vampire's head with an axe or pierce her eye with a stake.

Linda is later kidnapped by Memmet, and her boyfriend Omar (Andrés Monales) begins to search for her. Nadine later arrives at the asylum with Linda where she meets Dr. Seward. Dr. Seward admits that he only attempted to help Linda in order to lure Nadine to him so that he may become a vampire. Nadine refuses and has Morpho kill him instead.

As Omar searches for Linda, she is told by Memmet that all women, including his wife Agra, who ever return from the island become insane, and this is what has driven him to kill various women around the island. Linda manages to kill Memmet with a saw and escapes to track down Nadine. She finds Nadine at her beachfront home near death, in desperate need of blood to survive. Linda ignores Nadine's pleas and stabs her with a stake through her left eye, killing her. Morpho commits suicide when he learns his mistress is dead, and Linda is found by Omar who tries to convince Linda that the whole experience was just a nightmare.

Cast[edit]

Jesus Franco (pictured) had an uncredited role in the film as the crazy lunatic Memmet.[1]

Production[edit]

Vampyros Lesbos was filmed in Turkey, Spain and West Germany between June 1, 1970 and July 10, 1970.[3][4] Franco applied film devices that were used in his previous film such as long strip club sequences and female protagonists while the lesbian subtext was more prominent in this film than any previous work.[4] The music score also differs from the jazz soundtracks of his previous films with a more psychedelic music influenced soundtrack.[4] The soundtrack was composed by Manfred Hübler, Siegfried Schwab and Jesús Franco who credited himself under the alias of David Khune.[1]

Jaime Chávarri came up with the original story idea for the film (based on the works of Bram Stoker), and the screenplay was co-written by Jaime Chávarri, Anne Settimo and Franco. [4] Franco's first wife, Nicole Guettard, was an uncredited assistant director on the film and also contributed to the script.

The film went under several titles before being released as Vampyros Lesbos including Das Mal des Vampirs (Evil of the Vampires) and Im Zeichen der Vampire (Sign of the Vampire).[1] The film was released in Germany as Vampyros Lesbos: Die Erbin des Dracula (The Heiress of Dracula). A censored version was released in Spain in 1973 as Las Vampiras (missing a lot of the nudity).

Less than a month after finishing production on Vampyros Lesbos, Franco began working on his next film She Killed in Ecstasy (1970).[5]

In 1981, Franco remade Vampyros Lesbos as Macumba Sexual.

Release[edit]

Vampyros Lesbos was released in Germany as Vampyros Lesbos: die Erbin des Dracula / Vampyros Lesbos: The Heiress of Dracula on July 15, 1971, and in Spain as Las Vampiras (somewhat edited) in 1973, where it was very popular with audiences in Europe. It was released in France in 1974 as either Vampyros Lesbos or an alternate title Sexualite Speciale.[3][5] It was never released theatrically or on TV in the USA, Japan or England, appearing there years later only on video as Vampyros Lesbos or Las Vampiras.

The film was released on DVD as Vampyros Lesbos by Synapse Video on January 4, 2000.[6] Image Entertainment released the film on December 27, 2000 on DVD.[6]

A remake of Vampyos Lesbos directed by Matthew Saliba was released in 2008. The plot follows the story from Franco's film.[7]

Reception[edit]

Critics praised the film for its score made by Siegfried Schwab (pictured), Manfred Hübler and Jesus Franco

Total Film gave the film three stars out of five, noting that "Despite (or perhaps because of) the hilariously leaden acting, dull script and amateurish direction, this film still exerts a certain fascination."[8] Jonathan Rosenbaum of The Chicago Reader gave the film a negative review, comparing director Jesús Franco to Ed Wood.[9] Slant Magazine gave the film a positive review of three and half stars out of four, finding the film "effortlessly dreamlike" as well as praising the soundtrack.[10] Film 4 gave the film a mixed review, noting that "you never come to Franco's films (over 150 of them) for the plots, but his dreamy, unsettling direction does develop the central tragedy of Carody's love for Westinghouse." as well as praising the film's soundtrack.[11] The Dissolve gave the film a three out of five star rating, find that large portions of the film "lapse into tedium, whether they’re extensive love scenes or, worse, the blatherings of serious men with “Dr.” before their names" as well as that the film "gave exploitation audiences something different, a mesmeric vibe" which originated from the film's score and the presence of Soledad Miranda.[12]

In his 2009 book The Pleasure and Pain of Cult Horror Films: An Historical Survey, Bartomiej Paszylk took umbrage with some of the high-brow critics of the film, though ultimately acquiescing to its shortcomings, "Truth be told, Franco's vampyros are far more interested in being lesbos than in drinking human blood, but the movie is so mesmerizing and so outright sexy that you really shouldn't mind that.[13]

Soundtrack[edit]

Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party
Vampyros-soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by Vampire's Sound Incorporation
Released 1995
Genre Film music, psychedelic
Length 48:46
Label Motel

The soundtrack to Vampyros Lesbos was released as Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party on compact disc in 1995 by Motel Records.[14] The music on the album is compiled from the albums Psychedelic Dance Party and Sexadelic and consists of film music of three Franco films: Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy and The Devil Came from Akasava.[15] The album was released during a period where there was a resurgence of interest in Space age pop music, a style focused on easy listening music from the 1950s and 1960s.[15] The track "The Lions and the Cucumber" from the album was later used again on the soundtrack of Jackie Brown by American director Quentin Tarantino.[16] The album is dedicated to actress Soledad Miranda.[17]

The soundtrack was a top 10 hit on the British Alternative charts on its release over 20 years after the film was released.[5] On September 29, 1997, a remix album titled The Spirit of Vampyros Lesbos was released. The album was a collection of remixes from various electronic artists including Two Lone Swordsmen, Cristian Vogel and Alec Empire who released their own mixes of the film's soundtrack.[18]

Allmusic gave the album a negative of three stars out of five referring to the album's music as "excruciating" as well noting that a track on the album is "built on a shameless ripoff of the "Satisfaction" guitar riff".[14] Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B+ rating, opining that it was "not for cheese lovers only."[19]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab[14]

No. Title Length
1. "Droge CX 9"   5:11
2. "The Lions and the Cucumber"   5:10
3. "There's No Satisfaction"   3:10
4. "Dedicated to Love"   2:32
5. "People's Playground Version A"   0:50
6. "We Don't Care"   5:20
7. "People's Playground Version B"   1:17
8. "The Ballad of a Fair Singer"   4:35
9. "Necronomania"   2:09
10. "Kama Sutra"   4:03
11. "The Message"   3:21
12. "Shindai Lovers"   4:21
13. "The Six Wisdoms of Aspasia"   4:20
14. "Countdown to Nowhere"   2:27

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Browning, 2010. p.183
  2. ^ "Credits: Las Vampiras". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "Vampyros Lesbos - Erbin des Dracula". Filmportal.de (in German). Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Shipka 2011, p. 203.
  5. ^ a b c Shipka 2011, p. 205.
  6. ^ a b "Vampyros Lesbos". Allmovie. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  7. ^ Vasquez Jr., Felix (July 6, 2008). "Vampyros Lesbos (2008)". Film Threat. Retrieved September 29, 2012. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Vampyros Lesbos". Total Film. February 1, 2001. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  9. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "Vampyros Lesbos". The Chicago Reader. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  10. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (April 16, 2002). "Vampyros Lesbos". Slant Magazine. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Vampyros Lesbos". Film 4. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  12. ^ Tobias, Scott (May 11, 2015). "Vampyros Lesbos". The Dissolve. Archived from the original on May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  13. ^ "The Pleasure and Pain of Cult Horror Films: An Historical Survey". Bartomiej Paszylk. 2009. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  14. ^ a b c Anderson, Rick. "Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party". Allmusic. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Walters, Barry (1996). "Undead Dykes". The Advocate (710). ISSN 0001-8996. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  16. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Jackie Brown -- Music from the Motion Picture". Allmusic. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Vital Reissues". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) (108): 95. 1996. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  18. ^ Bush, Josh. "The Spirit of Vampyros Lesbos". Allmusic. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  19. ^ Flaherty, Mike (May 10, 1996). "Vampyros Lesbos". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Browning, John Edgar; Picart, Caroline Joan (2010). Dracula in Visual Media:Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game Appearances, 1921-2010. McFarland. ISBN 0786433655. 
  • Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-4888-1. 

External links[edit]