Jess Franco’s vampire film genuinely doesn’t live up to the hype it’s garnered with horror and film buffs over the decades since its release. It’s a tedious and often dull affair that manages to numb the sexuality due to its incessant filler. The filler is ever present from the opening shots, and is used to pad the film’s run time, from performances in front of crowds, right down to dream sequences, much of it is used as a tactic to pad a thinly veiled “Dracula” remake.
Ewa Strömberg plays Linda, a woman seduced by the Countess Carody, a gorgeous snake as played by Soledad Miranda. After receiving an inheritance by Dracula, Linda is called to the island where Carody lives, and despite warnings to stay away, arrives to find Carody a very enticing individual who begins transforming Linda soon enough. Much of “Vampyros Lesbos” plays like a psychedelic version of “Dracula” using the vampiric menace as a means of transforming their victims’ sexuality rather than their human form. Lesbianism is depicted as something of a maddening mental illness inflicted by Carody, while the men in Linda’s life fight to keep her from transforming in to one of Carody’s lovers.
Despite strong performances, “Vampyros Lesbos” is a thin and anemic horror film with almost nothing to offer audiences beside its artistic gloss and on the nose symbolism. Whenever we see Carody we cut immediately to a scorpion, and Carody’s house is filled with red furniture, as to indicate the blood shed that’s sorely lacking from the actual film. In its rare moments, “Vampyros Lesbos” garners some unique imagery, as well as solid direction from Franco, who depicts much of the maddening sexuality with heavy edits, quick cuts, and back and forth sexual confrontations that switch time periods and may or may not be in the minds of our characters. Miranda steals the film with her portrayal of Countess Carody making and otherwise tedious affair at least worth experimenting with. “Vampyros Lesbos” garners a heavy reputation, but is a terribly lackluster effort from Franco.
The Blu-Ray from Severin Films is packed with bells and whistles for the self respecting Francophile. “Interlude in Lesbos: Interview with writer/director Jess Franco” is a twenty minute interview with Jess Franco who discusses his his relationship with German producer Artur Brauner and the films he did with Soledad Miranda. As well he discusses “Vampyros Lesbos” in great length. “Stephen Thrower on Vampyros Lesbos” is a twelve minute interview with author Stephen Thrower who is an expert on Franco discussing his past work, his collaborations with Artur Brauner, and his work on “Vampyros Lesbos,” and “She Killed in Ecstasy.”
“Sublime Soledad” is a twenty minute interview with Soldead Miranda expert Amy Brown, who discusses the actresses life and legacy. “Jess is Yoda Clip” is a fun interview with Franco who explains he was the inspiration for the Star Wars character. “German Opening Title Sequence” is the alternate opening for “Vampyros Lesbos,” as well as the original German Trailer. On the DVD, “Las Vampiras” is the Spanish Language version of the film that’s both heavily edited and considered a boot leg. It’s a second cut for fans interested in re-visiting the film in a different vision. Finally, there’s a mini poster for the film for collectors.