FEMALE VAMPIRE (a.k.a. Bare Breasted Countess) ** France/Belgium 1975 Dir: Jesus Franco 96 mins
Opening with possibly the mostly remembered image of any Franco movie, Lina Romay walking through misty woods in nothing but a cloak, leather belt and boots. This is our introduction to the mute Countess Irina Karlstein (Lina Romay), who spends the majority of the film naked and even when she is clothed it is see through. Just like her bloodline she is cursed as a vampire, her only way of satisfaction is to give oral sex to men and women. sucking more then blood and killing off her victims.
Living with her mute servant who disposes of the bodies, the Countess seeks victims wherever she can. Also on the island is Australian novelist Baron Von Rathony (Jack Taylor, THE GHOST GALLEON (1974), RINGS OF FEAR (1978) upon hearing the rumours heads to Madeira to investigate. After wandering aimlessly for nearly an hour into the film he finally meets with Irina and professes his undying love to her. They both seek the same thing in life and want satisfaction but Irina will soon be left broken by her curse. There is a very loose part of storytelling where the police investigate the murders and immediately jump to the claim of vampires doing the bloody deeds! This is where you get to see Jesus Franco’s acting (or lack of) ability as Dr. Roberts. The film has a dream like presence to it that some will find hard to enjoy but the atmosphere and locations are just as stunning as the films female lead. You can find the film itself in various cuts with just as many names to it. The versions range from hardcore porn, which is mostly insert (excuse the pun) cuts into the original film and the horror cut with softcore elements which is the better version. The soundtrack mostly consists of two jazz type songs played in different variations, they certainly suit the films porno feel. Franco had made (and would) make better films then this but as far as a slice of euro-eroticism goes this film is a good place to start.
Review by Peter ‘Witchfinder‘ Hopkins