Les avaleuses (1973)

Eurotrash sex / horror auteur Jesus Franco's Female Vampire delivers nudity, drinking of human body fluids, plentiful zoom shots, languorous music, a vestigial storyline and the odd moment of surrealism (a flapping bat car ornament). It opens with a soulful-eyed brunette (Lina Romay) striding through misty woods wearing only thigh-boots, a leather belt and a black cloak, then chancing across a breeder of tropical birds whom upon whom she performs an act of oral sex that winds up painfully and fatally for the poor chump. One of Franco's better films, this still has an extremely leisurely pace which means that the story drifts dreamlike (or tediously, depending on your point of view) between protracted but unappealing sexual encounters as a smitten fellow with the requisite 70s porno moustache (Jack Taylor), a vampire-hating doctor (director Franco) and a blind coroner pursue the gloomy Countess for their own reasons. The vampire is mute but has an Anne Rice-style whining voice-over, but the dubbing means that everyone else seems equally dissociated from the words that fail to approximate their lip movements. Fans of Lina's frustrated naked writhings get to see her do the thing on top of several men and women, a bed, a tree and in a bath of blood. To Francophiles, a masterpiece; to everyone else, wearisome tat.
KIM NEWMAN

First published on Amazon.co.uk.


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