DVD Reviews A-M
> Female Vampire
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10-08-2004, 01:28 PM
Review Date: August 17, 2000
Released by: Image Entertainment
Release date: August 8, 2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Image Entertainment has recently released Jess Franco's Female Vampire (aka Erotic Kill) on DVD. Directed in 1973, Female Vampire is one of many Jess Franco soft-core porn films. This DVD, presented by Image as part of their "Euroshock Collection", features a new anamorphic transfer and should be a great revelation. I should warn you this review will contain images of graphic nudity so if you are offended by such things or are under age to view such material in your state/country/planet please don't go any further.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot1l.jpg) Countess Irina Karlstein (Lina Romay) is the descendant of a line of immortal vampires who are cursed with the desire to "suck" the life out of their victims. Soon the island of Madeira, where Karlstein currently resides, is beset by some baffling murders in which the victims have apparently died during sex. They are the victims of Countess Karlstein, who follows in her family's footsteps by preying on the men and beautiful women who manage to catch her eye. First she makes love to them then she kills them by literally sucking the life force out of them as they climax.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot2l.jpg) Eventually she comes across a man she falls in love with but she can't bring herself to make love to him at first, knowing her special kind of kiss means certain death. He admits to her that he knows what she is and that he wants to be together with her even if it means death. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Countess Karlstein the recent killings have attracted the attention of a Dr. Roberts (Jess Franco) who concludes that this ungodly creature must be destroyed.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot3l.jpg) "Mmmm yummy" was exactly what I thought seventeen minutes into this soft-core porn by prolific sleaze director Jess Franco. About seventeen minutes later I was left wondering if anything else was going to happen in this film besides a beautiful naked woman going down on people one after the other. Sadly, my question was answered and it wasn't the one I had hoped for. Female Vampire is style with hardly any substance; a film full of sexual allure but little else. The star of this film is Lina Romay and she is quite beautiful, but in my opinion she lacks the kind of presence and perfect mixture of dark and sensual qualities that Soledad Miranda possessed in Jess Franco's Vampyros Lesbos. Speaking of Vampyros Lesbos, these two films have a lot in common from the similarities between Countess Karlstein (Romay) and Countess Carody (Miranda) to the disjointed narrative and dreamlike atmosphere they both share. In many ways Female Vampire seems like a remake of Vampyros Lesbos.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot4l.jpg) Female Vampire, while graphic in its depiction of nudity, is strangely vague when it comes to the sex scenes with Romay draping her hair over the "action" and merely rubbing herself against people and umm objects. According to the liner notes written by Tim Lucas, Jess Franco shot three versions of this film with varying degrees of intensity. The version on this DVD is apparently the middle one, but on the disc's supplement section there are scenes taken from one of the versions where the horror elements are emphasized and the familiar blood and fangs come into play. I would have rather seen the "horror" version as opposed to this one since, after all, I'm into horror films and that was what I was lead to expect from this film. This version is simply a bore. Don't get me wrong, the women are beautiful and the film is very erotic but simply put if I want to see a porno I'll go buy the real thing. I was just hoping that this film would offer more than just naked flesh to ogle over.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_shot5l.jpg) Image Entertainment presents Jess Franco's Female Vampire letterboxed at 2.35:1 in a new 16x9 enhanced transfer. The transfer looks pretty good but there are a few problems worth noting. First, the transfer for the most part is sharp and nicely detailed with outdoor exteriors looking exceptional. However, there are times when the transfer appears a bit soft and lacking in definition. Also, the transfer exhibits a fair amount of grain and dirt on the print, which is especially noticeable in the fog-laden shots like the one that opens the film. Colors looked very good at times, especially daytime exteriors. Flesh tones looked natural and well balanced.
Additionally there seems to be some negative damage occurring at 1:05:18, which causes the image to jump and go in and out of focus. The episode lasts for roughly a minute and is quite a distraction. Other than that the print in general looks to be in good shape with only a few trouble spots displaying some scratches and print artifacts. Overall I expected much worse and am pleased with the overall image. I'm also glad Image Entertainment did an anamorphic transfer for this film, a trend I hope they continue. I'm certain fans of this film will appreciate the added "detail".
Female Vampires Audio is presented in English Dolby Digital Mono. The music sounds all right if not a little thin. The dubbing is very poor and has a disconnected feel to the action onscreen. In fact there are some instances where actors mouths are moving, but there is no dialog. This isn't a fault of the disc just the dubbing recording. Dialogue is also thin and I had to up the volume to make out what some of the characters are saying.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_menus.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fvampire/fvampire_menul.jpg) Image Entertainment has supplied us with two nice supplements on this disc. The first is the film's theatrical trailer, which is presented 16x9. Also on the disc are alternate scenes from the horror version of Female Vampire, "Erotikill". The scenes featured here are the similar scenes that appear in the film, just the sex is toned down and Countess Karlstein bites into the necks of her victims. The quality of the footage is pretty good and is presented 16x9, which is very cool.
Fans of Jess Franco's work will enjoy this edition and the DVD is pretty good too. I was disappointed in the film but maybe that's just because I went in with the wrong expectations and found myself watching something very different then what I thought it would be. Casual fans of female vamps would be better suited seeking out Franco's Vampyros Lesbos, which I think is superior in style with a better balance of sex and horror.
Image Quality - B
Sound - C+
Supplements - B-
Running time - 1 hour 41 minutes
12 Chapter stops
English Dolby Digital Mono (dubbed dialogue)
Alternate Scenes from the "horror only" version of the film, "Erotikill"
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