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July 13, 2014

Movie Review: Jess Franco's The Demons (Blu-ray)

European cult cinema has produced many undeniable talents over the past 50 years: Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red), Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Bay of Blood), Jean Rollin (Living Dead Girl, Grapes Of Death), Walerian Borowczyk (The Beast, Behind Convent Walls) and Lucio Fulci (City Of The Living Dead, The Beyond) are just a handful of names that have contributed numerous memorable features. And then there's Jess Franco. A highly skilled and talented filmmaker in his own right, Franco has been brilliant with films like Venus of Furs and Succubus but has also unfortunately churned out unwatchable shot-on-video sludge like Marie Cookie and the Killer Tarantula and Tender Flesh. The directors mentioned earlier are far from perfect but seem to have a tad more consistency than the Spanish filmmaker.

Kino and Redemption Films are back yet again with another addition to their line of Jess Franco films on heels of the fine releases of The Awful Dr. Orloff and Virgin Among the Living Dead with Jess Franco's Demons. Not to be confused with Lamberto Bava's Demons, Jess Franco's The Demons takes a page out of Ken Russell’s popular and very controversial The Devils with this deliciously blasphemous tale of horny nuns, possession and nasty inquisition sadism. The story surrounds the torture and subsequent execution of a witch who makes her presence known in the after-life as a demonic spirit possessing innocent and very hot nuns.

Admirers of Mark of the Devil and the various wild nunsploitation films (Images in the Convent, Within a Cloister etc.) will most assuredly get a kick out of The Demons. Jess Franco’s trademark zoom is present and annoying at times during the film but I will say when the frame has one of the very naked and beautiful actresses playing  the nuns it’s easy to forget the often headache-inducing habit of the Spanish master of sleaze.  Back in my Catholic school days nuns didn't look quite like this; they often looked like the late Anne Ramsey and smelled of Endust.

Redemption has put together a very sharply rendered remastering for this Blu-ray that is sure to delight Franco fans. It’s very colorful and bears very little wear on the element. English subtitles are also a nice bonus to accompany the feature.

As for extras, we get some outtakes that consist of scenes cut from the film but used in the theatrical trailer. These are a fun watch and do contain some juicy footage, so keep your eyes peeled! The best bonus feature has the legendary Jess Franco on hand for an excellent interview. Franco looks frail, as this was one of his last appearances in front of the camera but his stories are a treat. He talks of the producers wanting him to rip off The Devils and goes into some details about the financial headaches involved. The special features are definitely worth taking a gander at once you've finished the film.

As someone who is really hot and cold with the works of Jess Franco, Jess Franco’s Demons is without a doubt one the best films of his that I’ve seen. If you have a hankering for some outrageous Euro-sleaze of the highest quality Redemption’s release of Jess Franco’s The Demons should fit the bill. Highly Recommended

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