Digi-Schlock: THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA (Severin Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack)

Severin Films has been a booster of Jesus Franco’s work from their earliest days, tackling Franco titles that even interested cult-movie video outlets wouldn’t touch.  Recently, they have tackled one of the more problematic titles in the director’s filmography by producing a special edition set for The Hot Nights Of Linda – and the results show their dedication to obscure reaches of cult filmmaking.

The set begins with a fresh high-definition transfer of the theatrical cut of this rarity (under its release title But Who Raped Linda?).  As with many Franco films, it was shot quickly and on the cheap so there is a certain amount of variability in the photography’s overall quality but this transfer does a good job of making it look as good as possible. Fans should note that is the standard European theatrical version, minus the hardcore footage that Franco was add to an alternate version of the film for different markets (more on that in a moment).

The blu-ray was watched for this review and the level of detail is nice, particularly in the frequent closeups, and the use of the color red really pops when it appears on screen, particularly during a memorable nighttime smoking scene between Alice Arno and Lina Romay.  There’s a certain, minor level of age-related damage in the materials used for the transfer but it’s never a big problem and the director’s fans will be shocked to see such a nice-looking version of a film that has always been hard to find on video.  The mono audio mix of the original English dub is presented as a lossless track and sounds as good as cheap vintage dub can sound (no distortion or defects).

Severin has also produced a set of extras for this edition.  On the small scale, there is an English-language trailer with amusingly overheated narration and six minutes’ worth of outtakes. Romay fans will be happy to know that a lot of this footage is devoted to a lengthier, more intense version of a sex scene she appears in from the film.

There are also two featurettes involving Franco and Romay, footage that is invaluable to their fans now since the two have passed away.  “Hot Nights” is a solo interview with Franco where he waxes philosophic as he discusses giving Romay her first role, his thoughts on the different cast members and his take on the on the often elliptical nature of the film’s plot elements.  Romay makes a brief appearance in this segment when she has to help him remember a name.

“Jess And Lina Talk Linda” has both Romay and Franco responding to various questions, including amusing bits where they try to sort the confusing chronology of his film shoots and Romay trying to explain the film’s convoluted plot.  Near the end, she admits she hates watching her films but charmingly adds she always wants to make more.  Franco and Romay make one final appearance in the extras in a brief bit of video footage showing Franco getting a lifetime achievement award at Fantastic Fest.  Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Franco is charming and witty when addressing the crowd – and Romay’s devotion to caring for him is genuinely touching.

The final extra on the disc is an interview with author/critic Stephen Thrower, who offers his thoughts on Linda.  It’s a piece that both Franco fans and neophytes will appreciate: in a short amount of time, he places the film in the context of Franco’s career, discusses the tortured video history of the film and talks about how it shows Franco developing an entirely self-referential universe in his work.  It’s concise and insightful, something that will whet the appetites of Franco fans for his forthcoming book on the Franco filmography.

There’s also a special version of this set for fans who buy one of the first 2500 copies: it includes a third disc, a DVD that features what the producers of this edition call the “French Hard Banana Version.”  This is a variant version of the film with hardcore footage, taken from an old European VHS source.  It’s presented in French with burnt-in English subtitles.  As its source material suggests, it’s rough-looking (especially when compared to the nice remaster of the main version of the film) but Franco fanatics will be thrilled with its inclusion.  If you’re a completist, you’ll want to make sure you pick up this early version.

In short, Severin has done well by an obscure, problematic entry in the Franco canon.  It can stand proudly alongside their editions of House On Straw Hill and Horror Express as one of the company’s many heroic rescue jobs.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of The Hot Nights Of Linda, click here.

Jess & Lina Out take Clip from Severin Films on Vimeo.

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