Jesus Franco introduces his own Anna Karina: Lina Ronay, lithe and raven-haired and sullenly humid, materializes out of the fog clad only in a black cape and thigh-high boots and saunters toward the camera. (She bumps into it.) A cursed countess, she haunts the forests and hotels of Madeira, thirsty for hormones; her victims are lured by her somnambulistic wiles only to see Thanatos rudely interrupt Eros. ("He was bitten... in the middle of an orgasm" is the medical verdict.) In this lustrous travesty of Bram Stoker, Van Helsing is a snooping physician (Franco) and Lucy is a melancholy baron (Jack Taylor) with a morbid desire to go "beyond the mist." Deprived of people to drain, Ronay writhes like a horizontal odalisque through a series of Hustler spreads, riding pillows and humping bedposts while the score loops, stretches, and mutates from mod ululation to mock-orchestration. The heroine’s silence not only allows the zoom lenses to feast on Ronay’s deadpan pout, but also exposes Franco’s Lacanian distrust of language as language. ("Why is my body once again the desire of death?" Suddenly, the Countess’s abysmal voiceovers become parodies of dialogue, paltry before the sublime.) Rather, the languid, symbolist flow is very close to the Losey of Boom and Secret Ceremony, brimming with Klimt visions and risqué jests like the blind mystic’s bit of clitorial Braille at the morgue and the lesbian S&M chamber with a sign-in guestbook at the dungeon's entrance. It is a wacky-poetic mind indeed that can photograph the muse as she flaps see-thru veils like bat wings atop a coastal cliff. With Ann Watican, Alice Arno, Monica Swinn, Luis Barboo, and Jean-Pierre Bouyxou.
--- Fernando F. Croce