To many a cult film fanatic, Vampyros Lesbos is the jewel of Jesus Franco’s expansive filmography. The director’s fans have wanted a blu-ray of this title for a long time and that wish was just granted in regal form by the Franco acolytes at Severin Films. The results not only deliver this favorite in high style but also assembles a package that will please this filmmaker’s serious collectors.
Vampyros Lesbos is one of the most impressively shot films in the Franco canon and it looks wonderful in the 1.66:1 transfer included here. Whether you’re dealing with the pop-art colors of the interiors or the beautiful Istanbul exteriors, there is a richness to all the fine details and a nice celluloid look. The German mono audio track is used here, presented with English subtitles, and sounds good for its vintage (especially the music).
Severin also stacks the disc with a nice array of concise yet informative extras. The first is a 21-minute chat with Franco. His tone mixes nostalgia and self-criticism as he discusses his fondness for the producer, the films they intended to do with Soledad Miranda, his thoughts on the film’s mixture of lesbian and vampire content and how the film got its iconic soundtrack. Fans will love Franco’s loopy yet intellectual commentary here. Also included is the history of Miranda’s career laid out by superfan Amy Brown that appeared on Severin’s She Killed In Ecstasy disc (click here to read more about that supplement).
Next up is a chat with Franco expert Stephen Thrower, who covers a lot of ground in just under 12 minutes. He talks about how Franco changed producers around this time, how some experimental no-budget indies he did around the same time led to a change in Franco’s approach to filmmaking and the differences between the two versions of the film. Fans will be amused by “Jess Is Yoda,” an interview snippet that has Franco revealing how he influenced a key detail in the Star Wars universe.
The blu-ray extras are rounded out by an alternative titles sequence and a trailer. The titles sequence is the German version, which includes a different design to the titles and a title card with an interesting quotation. The trailer shows off the film’s mixture of color, sex and wildness to appropriately hypnotic effect.
The DVD in the set foregoes the usual standard-def repeat of the blu-ray’s contents to supply Franco collectors with an intriguing alternative viewing experience. This is the Spanish edit of Vampyros Lesbos that was released Las Vampiras. It’s taken from a grainy foreign video source but hardcore Franco fans will want to watch to see how different it is: not only was it edited down for Spanish censorship standards, it also features some narration and alternative musical cues not in the better-known version of the film.
Simply put, one of the key Franco titles has finally gotten the high-def upgrade it deserves with Severin’s edition of Vampyros Lesbos. If you like his work, your collection isn’t complete without it.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Vampyros Lesbos, click here.