Vampyros Lesbos (1971)

Soledad Miranda and Dennis Price star in Jess Franco's surreal sapphic Dracula twist. Second Sight UK R2 DVD.

The Film

Linda Westinghouse is confused by strange dreams of errant sexuality and a beautiful woman dressed in black. At a nightclub she sees the woman of her dreams in the act. Linda is working in Istanbul and is sent to a remote island to talk to a Countess who lives there, on arrival she discovers that the woman of her dreams is in fact Countess Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda) - the pair share some intimate moments before Linda finds the Countess dead and in her shock loses her mind, finding herself in the private asylum of Dr Seward (Dennis Price)...

Bram Stoker's Dracula takes a strange twist in Jess Franco's script for Vampyros Lesbos. While many of the common elements, from the estate agent travelling to visit a propsective client, to a Renfield-esque character in a private asylum are present, many of the best known themes are twisted around - daylight and running water pose no problems and accordingly on their first encounter Linda and the Countess sunbathe after swimming in the sea. Typical of Franco's best works the whole film has a slightly surreal and distinctly dream-like atmsophere and in keeping there are many inexplicable moments (such as why the Countess performs a strip-tease act at a nightclub) that the script never attempts to answer. The pacing is accordingly slow but the film certainly never drags.

Franco's direction is very strong throughout - his speciality, the nightclub act, is presented with some real flair, while the use of some strange imagery really lends to the film's surreal atmosphere. The nudity, particularly in the opening nightclub act, is genuinely erotic unlike many of Franco's later pure-exploitation productions. He makes extensive use of Turkish locations, although it is a pity that the script does not refer to these more. The distinctive and perfectly suited soundtrack is by jazz musicians Sigi Schwab and Manfred Hübler, with Franco himself contributing.
The amazingly beautiful Soledad Miranda plays the Countess - the script does not give her too much to do except look Gothic, but she performs the role with excellence and the nightclub act in particular is wonderfully performed. Her frequent co-star Ewa Strömberg gives another good counter-performance as Linda. Two Franco regulars are also present in the film's relatively small male roles, Paul Muller plays a psyciatrist, while the British actor Dennis Prices gives a solid performace as Dr. Seward (who also encompasses the Van Helsing role here). Franco himself crops up in a bizarre little role as a mad hotel porter.

Psychadelic and surreal, Vampyros Lesbos is certainly not for everyone. Any fans of Franco's Soledad Miranda films should certainly pick this one up and it makes a great place to start exploring their tragically short lived partnership. Fans of the more surreal side of Euro-cult cinema might well enjoy this, while it will make a unique spin for any Dracula fans. Recommended.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? Soledad Miranda - A beautiful Spanish actress who appeared in 6 of Franco's films, including Eugénie (1970)
Dennis Price - At one time a big name British actor, in his later years appeared in a number of Franco films.
Directed by anyone interesting? Jess Franco - the biggest name in euro-cult cinema with over 180 films to his credit, everything from black and white horror Diabolical Dr. Z (1966) to ultra-low budget war film Fall of the Eagles (1989).
Any gore? Some blood and a couple of scenes with light gore.
Any sex? Several female topless and soft nude scenes.
Who is it for?
Recommended to all Franco and Miranda fans, and of general interest to all Euro-cult fans.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
The film is strong visually with only mild grain and damage. Colour is strong.
A few brief shots seem to be from a different source and have more grain and slightly different colour.
Audio German audio track - sounds fine throughout, with the music coming through well.
Subtitles English - consistantly good.
Extras The disc includes:
  • German theatrical trailer (with English subs).
  • Extensive photo gallery with some interesting stills of images not in the film.
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? Also available from Image in the USA with identical print. German and Australian releases also available.
Cuts? The film is believed to be fully uncut and is the longer 'German' version of the film, a shorter and noticably differently edited Spanish print is also known to have existed - see DVD Rewind for more details. French language print.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 10th January 2008.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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