As Stephen Thrower notes in a fea­turet­te on Mondo Macabro’s new blu-ray of The Night Has A Thousand Desires, this film was part of a mul­ti-pic­ture deal that film­mak­er Jesus Franco had with Golden Films.  They didn’t have much mon­ey to offer and weren’t so good with the busi­ness of dis­tri­b­u­tion — the lat­ter aspect would has­ten the end of the rela­tion­ship — but they were will­ing to allow Franco to make what­ev­er the hell he want­ed.

The Night Has A Thousand Desires came fair­ly ear­ly in the glut of pic­tures that emerged from Franco’s deal with Golden.  It’s the kind of lusty, sur­re­al mood­piece that he loved to make when left to his own devices.  The wisp of a plot revolves around Irina (Lina Romay), a wom­an who does a night­club psy­chic act with her lover/partner Fabian (Daniel Katz). She doesn’t know that he’s in the thrall of Lorna (Carmen Carrion), a witch nhatd-bluwho uses her psy­chic pow­ers on Irina to trans­form her a seduc­er and mur­der­ess of sev­er­al peo­ple that she wants dead.

As was his wont, Franco dis­pens­es with the basic require­ments of the nar­ra­tive as quick­ly as he can and pours his effort and inspi­ra­tion into its atmos­pher­ics.  He uses the sleepy, lusty European beach­side com­mu­ni­ty as a kind of odd­ly time­less back­drop for a series of min­i­mal­ist art-house set­pieces that revolve around sex and mur­der.  Romay makes a com­pelling foil for Franco’s sleaze-sur­re­al­ist ten­den­cies, dig­ging into the som­nam­bu­lis­tic, haunt­ed qual­i­ty of her role as well as near-con­stant nudi­ty and sex.

The high­light is a mem­o­rable scene where Irina seduces a one man/two wom­an trio, a slow burn­er that shows off Franco’s skills to get a lot of effect from a mea­ger amount of ele­ments.  Using a series of care­ful­ly-com­posed Cinemascope frames, he makes Romay the focus of a word­less sce­nar­io that starts with casu­al tok­ing, moves to sex and cli­max­es with mur­der.  The space dia­logue would fill is tak­en by lo-fi jazz that starts in a lounge-ish mode and mutates into a fren­zied musique con­crete that keeps the pace with Romay’s unin­hib­it­ed car­nal antics.

The style of the afore­men­tioned scene is the key to the appeal of The Night Has A Thousand Desires.  Franco’s art­sy, no-nar­ra­tive-frills approach to hor­ror and erot­i­ca isn’t for all tastes but his approach shows a fren­zied style that can work quite well if you’re will­ing to allow it to wash over your synaps­es.

Blu-Ray Notes:  Mondo Macabro recent­ly res­cued this title from obscu­ri­ty and deliv­ered a beau­ti­ful blu-ray edi­tion of it.  The trans­fer offers a stun­ning­ly col­or­ful and clear pre­sen­ta­tion of this title and the English mono dub does well by this func­tion­al mix.

The pre­sen­ta­tion is bol­stered with a few choice extras.  The first is an episode of Eurotika (24:41) that offers a brisk overview of Franco’s career with tes­ti­mo­ni­als from cast and pro­duc­ers as well as film clips galore and sound­bites from Franco him­self. It does a nice job of pay­ing trib­ute to the director’s style of deter­mined “ama­teurism” — and Franco makes for a bold yet wry­ly humor­ous inter­view sub­ject.

The sec­ond extra is a new sit­down with critic/Franco expert Stephen Thrower (33:12) that explores The Night Has A Thousand Desires in the con­text of Franco’s career.  It goes into detail on his deal with Golden Films, Franco’s reper­to­ry play­ers and locales from this era, where the music comes from, the film’s mind con­trol the­me and how Franco weaves dif­fer­ent threads of his cin­e­mat­ic uni­verse through the film.  It’s a skill­ful­ly pre­pared, thought­ful piece that mix­es insight and enthu­si­asm in an illu­mi­nat­ing man­ner.  The usu­al Mondo Macabro pre­view reel rounds things out.

NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND DESIRES, a film by Jess Franco — com­ing soon to Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro on Vimeo.