Female Vampire, 1975.
Directed by Jesus Franco.
Starring Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, Alice Arno, Monica Swinn, Jesus Franco, and Luis Barboo.
The last descendant of the evil Karlstein family of vampires lures unsuspecting victims to their doom.
The first release from new Screenbound Pictures imprint Maison Rouge, Female Vampire – a.k.a. Bare Breasted Countess – is something of an erotic classic from the 1970s. Directed by notorious purveyor of sleaze Jess Franco (A Virgin Among the Living Dead/Eugénie), the film is an otherworldly blend of softcore porn and the mildest of vampiric horrors, in as much as the lead character is introduced as a vampire and does indeed suck the bodily fluids of her victims (note – not just the blood) but there is very little gore and no other vampire folklore apart from the mention of her murderous ancestors.
The female vampire in question is Countess Irina Karlstein, played by Franco’s future wife Lina Romay, and right from the eerie opening shot we are treated to the reason why the films alternate title is more apt as Romay walks towards the camera wearing nothing but an open cape and, for some strange reason, a belt. It is a very striking image and Romay does indeed cut a fine figure, oozing sex appeal and a Gothic melancholy that she manages to maintain throughout the numerous sex sessions that Irina engages upon for the following 96 minutes. You see, Female Vampire is a movie in name only and doesn’t really have a plot structure to speak of; Irina swishes about the place encountering various men and women who immediately fall under her spell and let her work her magic upon them, which usually involves oral sex that ends in a bite and then some more furious sucking as the victim lays dying.
Between Irina’s encounters we get to meet a journalist who knows a little about the Karlstein family history, a group of doctors – one of whom is blind so cue lots of fingering the bodies (yes, just like that) so cause of death can be established – trying to link all of the cadavers together and a poet who just really wants to be Irina’s special friend. There is no real story here other than a predatory female vampire sucks on the bodily fluids of men and women to stay alive and some random people have an inkling what is going on. It never really goes anywhere or does anything other than show you Lina Romay naked for about 99.5% of the running time and some extremely intimate close-ups of what Jess Franco no doubt got to see at home every night, and fortunately for him he could do so without having to sit through this film every time.
To be fair, Female Vampire does evoke the erotic sensibilities that many a Gothic novel or piece of art aspires to, mainly thanks to Franco’s minimalism when it comes to production and Romay’s sultry looks. The lingering close-ups on her gyrating backside and wild 1970s bush certainly don’t add a great deal artistically but it is all shot fairly well and for fans of softcore Euro-porn then Female Vampire could well be a cool background video to put on whilst you play a Type O Negative album and try to seduce a beautiful Goth. For anyone else, though, it is a slow and fairly dull trawl that provides basic titillation and very little else.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★ / Movie: ★