The Jess Franco Collection

Starring: Klaus Kinski, Josephine Chaplin,
Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 18
Available 18 October 2004

Once declared by the Catholic Church to be one of the most dangerous filmmakers alive, the controversial and highly prolific Spanish director Jess Franco gained his infamous reputation as the auteur of a seemingly endless series of low budget exploitation films. Collected here are eight of his movies from a career that has seen him produce over 180 films...

Collections are always difficult to produce. The content, especially when there are so many movies to choose from, is never going to please everyone. Anchor Bay seems to have managed to pick out a mixed bag of Jess Franco's (or to use his full birth name, Jesús Franco Manero) work - not that that actually means much as he has produced some real stinkers throughout his career.

Sadly this collection represents everything that is bad about Franco's career. Many of the movies here are set in prison, or women only institutions and have varying degrees of nudity and violence.

What should have been the greatest movie in the collection, Jack the Ripper, falls flat on its face. And that seems to be a common thread running through all the films collected here.

Extras are fairly standard, with all movies have a collection of production stills and anamorphic transfers so that widescreen TV owners can get that proper cinematic experience.

On Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun we get a featurette documentary on the restoration of the film, cast and crew biographies, extensive production stills gallery, theatrical trailer. On Jack The Ripper there is an audio commentary by producer Erwin C. Dietrich, behind the scenes documentary with exclusive never before seen footage, featurette about the restoration of the film, deleted scene and the international theatrical trailer. Ilsa the Wicked Warden, Barbed Wire Dolls, Voodoo Passion and Blue Rita all offer a collection of interviews, featurette on the restoration of the film, trailers and cast and crew biographies. On Love Camp we get a behind the scenes documentary, international theatrical trailer and cast and crew biographies. On Sexy Sisters we get a behind the scenes documentary, trailer gallery, poster gallery, cast and crew biographies.

Checking with the BBFC's website I discovered that some of the movies here, most notably Ilsa the Wicked Warden, have had scenes cut to ensure they received a rating - I don't even want to know what was cut to be honest.

Franco fans will be impressed at this collection. Eight movies, with an interesting line up of extras, for under £30 is almost too good to be true. However, for the rest of humanity out there - those of us who believe that movies should have believable acting, strong storylines and should not depict women as pieces of meat - this collection will be too much to stomach.

Nick Smithson

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