Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lorna the Exorcist [1974]

As Linda is turning 18 - her father is being harassed by a mysterious woman named Lorna who is demanding that he turn over his daughter to her.

This is an amazing hyper-sexual head trip - it's a glorious treat for Franco fans that this film was finally found and reconstructed and released with such care by Mondo Macabre. The print has been damaged by the porn distributor who purchased it and cut in hardcore sex into it - but enough of the original print survived for it to fixed back to its original form as scratchy at time as it appears - unfortunately the soundtrack seemed to have suffered more.

Even with the hardcore scenes removed - Franco's version is intense for how sexually explicit it was. His fascination with the female genitalia is in full force - not only with his usual zoom into that region - but the lingering of the shot - and the fact that the actors actually engage each other in that region. It indeed takes you out of the movie a bit - but it also is part of the head trip that was designed as part of the story. It's purposely hypnotizing and graphic but also misleading as it becomes horrifying with Franco introducing a quite possibly one of his most disturbing ideas when he has monsters creeping out of a woman's privates. That must have been conflicting and personal for Franco - making his favorite part of a woman's anatomy horrifying.

Lina Romay as Linda was outstanding - one of her best roles - right up there with the Countess from Female Vampire. She was youthful and energetic - and slowly became more disturbed - culminating with what seemed like a complete loss of restraint and giving herself over completely into the role. Pamela Stanford commanded your attention - with her slinky, smooth, cool and mysterious demeanor - as Lorna. I'm not sure how much her ridiculously wild eye make-up played a role in how strangely fascinating she was - but she carried an amazing intensity to the role.

Franco used a resort town in the south of Spain as the setting for this story - it was still in the midst of being constructed - which allowed him to cleverly pull of successful flashbacks. Also, considering how it was being made as a resort town the architecture was a bit more unique and pretty - it provided a very surreal background for this old world Faustian tale.

The direction was classic Franco - where there were plenty of lingering scenes - which hypnotize you and leave you unaware of exactly all that's going on. The film starts with an 8 minute sex scene - and it's so intense and lingering you are left wondering what's going on - and as it pulls you out - he switches it up quickly and throws a lot at you. I personally love that shit - it pushes the boundaries of what you should be expecting and keeps me more engaged to his films than most directors. His use of a pulsating repetitive music in his soundtrack was also put to great use making the atmosphere of the film more surreal and hypnotic.

Lorna the Exorcist is a must see for Franco fans - storming into my Top 5 list of his films - and I'm grateful that this print was finally reconstructed and released with such care. I think it's a perfect representation of Franco working in his wheelhouse of sexual horror using universal themes in the early 70's - it's quite brilliant and haunting.

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