Jesús “Jess” Franco (1930-2013)

The world of cult film has been dealt a huge blow this morning, as we are learning that Spanish director, writer, actor and cinematographer Jesús “Jess” Franco has passed away after complications from a stroke he had last week. He was 82 years old.

One of the most prolific directors of horror and erotic films (and often works that combined the two), Franco also directed spy films, giallos, science fiction films and adventure films, all with a unique sense of style that sometimes overshadowed the content for some critics. Franco’s reputation wasn’t often the greatest, but he had received many accolades in recent years for his work, including a chapter in Pete Tombs and Cathal Tohill’s essential “Immoral Tales” (1994) and several examinations of his work from Tim Lucas, including one in the first issue of “Video Watchdog” (1990).

His met his companion and frequent collaborator, actress Lina Romay, in 1970 and they were together until her death last year.

Among Franco’s many, many notable works (the exact number of which is hard to determine with the varying retitlings and re-editings floating around) include 1961’s THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF, 1962’s THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS, 1968’s THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z, 1967’s LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE, TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS, KISS ME MONSTER, and THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, 1968’s 99 WOMEN, VENUS IN FURS, THE MARQUIS DE SADE’S JUSTINE and THE GIRL FROM RIO, 19869’s THE BLOODY JUDGE, COUNT DRACULA and EUGENIE, THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION, 1970’s VAMPYROS LESBOS, NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT and SHE KILLED IN ECSTACY, 1971’s DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN, 1972’s THE DEMONS, 1972’s COUNTESS PERERSE and FEMALE VAMPIRE, 1974’s LORNA THE EXORCIST, 1975’s BARBED WIRE DOLLS, 1976’s JACK THE RIPPER and LOVE LETTERS OF A PORTUGUESE NUN, 1977’s GRETA THE MAD BUTCHER (released as ILSA, THE WICKED WARDEN), 1980’s BLOODY MOON, 1981’s THE SEXUAL STORY OF O, 1982’s MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD, 1983’s REVENGE IN THE HOUSE OF USHER, 1984’s GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS, 1988’s FACELESS, 1996’s TENDER FLESH and 2000’s BLIND TARGET. His final film, premiering in Barcelona just over a week before his death, was AL PEREIRA VS. THE ALLIGATOR WOMEN.

According to a post on Lucas’s Facebook page, from an announcement by producer Stéphane Derdérian, “Restoration is now underway for Franco’s 1973 film AL OLTO LADO DEL ESPEJO (“The Other Side of the Mirror”) and its alternate version LE MIROIR OBSCENE (“The Obscene Mirror”), starring Emma Cohen and Robert Woods. So there is still more top-shelf Franco yet to come!” We look forward to seeing all of Franco’s films restored to be seen by new audiences.

Rest in piece, giant of film.

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