Selecting a film alternatively titled ‘The Bare Breasted Countess’ with very little prior knowledge of its overall content was a shot in the dark! While being aware of the work of Jess Franco it’s not something wholly familiar to me. That said, it’s always good to expand on your horror tastes and go for something different to the usual, Female Vampire certainly was that!
Released in 1975, the film was a Belgian-French production that starred Franco’s wife Lina Romay in the title role. Romay plays the Countess Irina Von Karlstein who instead of encompassing a thirst for blood, craves sex from both male and female victims in order to remain immortal.
Unconventionally, she drains them of their bodily fluids rather than blood! There is an investigation conducted into the sudden surge of murders while the Countess is confronted by a poet who wants to be turned and join her in eternal life
Female Vampire is pure sleaziness and while there is an audience for it as with any film, it held very little appeal. Despite garnering a cult status, other than hardcore Franco fans or film-goers with an appreciation for this sub-genre, it’s unclear if this film has a place with modern audiences due to its slow pace, monotonous scenes of dialogue and overall tone of dullness. Romay is quite mesmerizing in certain shots, oozing an ethereal presence but it’s so thinly plotted that even a somewhat interesting performance isn’t enough to save it from mainly being a boring porno.
The film comes in three different versions. One is more focused on the horror element while another is purely hardcore pornography, the other version amalgamates them both.
This version seemed more sex focused, incorporating long, drawn out repetitive scenes with un-erotic, sleazy music played over the top of them that it felt tedious to watch. Franco focuses the camera frequently on the female body and graphically female genitalia, this could either be argued as being exploitative or appreciative but it does have a grimy essence about it.
Female Vampire is essentially a product of its time, 1970’s smut disguised with a horror backdrop, if you’re looking for blood and gore then this is not that film. Overall, it’s pretty much an unexciting watch and aimed at an acquired taste.