4/05/2013

RIP Jess Franco and Roger Ebert

It's time for the type of post that's always hard for me to do, and certainly never fun, those that pay tribute to people who have tragically left us. This week had two great and very different men, both who contributed to the movie world in very separate and distinct ways: Jess Franco and Roger Ebert.

The passing of Jess Franco, the European cult director who made countless of countless movies, many under the horror and erotic banner, was a shock to me. He was loved by those who got his films; while other saw him as a hack. Me? I liked him. I honestly need to watch more of his work, but I've always had a love for those filmmakers who mix erotica and horror. And, he certainly had a nack for doing just that.

He began his career with We Are Eighteen in 1959, and the last film he worked on, which is incomplete by the way, was Al Pereira Vs. the Alligator Women. He was shooting that movie this year, and at this time it is unknown if someone else will take the reigns to finish it.

Of the Franco flicks, I have seen, I enjoyed A Virgin Among the Living Dead, which while some may
find it slow, I found to be a wonderfully, dream-like horror flick about a beautiful woman who meets her weird family when she goes to be present at her father's will reading. It has a beautiful female cast, some wonderful full frontal female nudity, and some hints of lesbianism. Even better, but lacking in the lesbo action is Faceless, a movie starring Caroline Munro and Bridgette Lahaie that ranks as one of his goriest flicks.

Not everything he made is great, sure. Even with all the lesbianism, nudity, and gore stuff like Lust for Frankenstein and Tender Flesh (which also throws in pissing) are pretty shitty. But, again the man had a passion for his mix of flesh and blood.

He did work with some legends, including Christopher Lee and cult favorites, such as Michelle Bauer (the aforementioned Frankenstein flick)

Christopher Lee in Jess Franco's Count Dracula

As, I said, I need to seriously see more of his work, including one of his most well known and talked about films Vampyros Lesbos.

Franco passed away this Tuesday at age 82. Causes are unknown at this time, but he had lung problems due to his major smoking habit. He is already greatly missed, by fans like me.

Yesterday, Roger Ebert passed away at age 70, tragically succumbing to cancer, which he had been battling for years. I really never agreed with his stance on slasher films or more hardcore horror fare like I Spit on Your Grave. As a matter of fact, during the 80s he and his partner Gene Siskel attacked films like Friday the 13th, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and the aforementioned rape/ revenge flick. To me, it has always one thing to think a movie is crap, it's another to so viciously attack a film that it sounded like they wanted to start a witch-hunt for it. Here is an example of what I mean.
Clips like this always rubbed me the wrong way. This isn't to say Ebert hated all graphic horror. He did praise movies like Last House of the Left, Dawn of the Dead, Re-Animator, and Evil Dead 2. Plus, he wrote Beyond the Valley of the dolls for director Russ Meyer. That truly awesome movie included gore, drugs use, lesbians, full frontal female nudity, and other things that definitely fall out of the safe range, but yet Ebert wrote it! But, all that said, it's very sad, that he has passed on and, even more so, the way he did. Cancer is horrible disease. As I have said before, FUCK CANCER!

And there is no denying that he was the last of the great mainstream critics. And, his, along with, of course, Siskel, thumbs up/ thumbs down, is to day, still used and remembered. There is also no denying that deep down the man loved movies. And, that's something we all do, don't we?

God bless both of these great contributors to the movies and may they RIP.

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