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Lorna The Exorcist

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    Ian Jane
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  • Lorna The Exorcist


    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: 2/1/2011
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Lina Romay, Jacqueline Laurent, Howard Vernon, Jesus Franco, Pamela Stanford, Guy Delorme
    Year: 1974
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Lorna The Exorcist has had a fairly bizarre history. Director Jess Franco made it for producer Robert de Nesle who somehow marketed it as a supernatural horror film in the vein of Friedkin's classic. It was cut and re-cut and eventually turned into a hardcore porno movie and it played under the alternate titles of Linda and Luscious Linda before heading off into relative obscurity for years. A cult audience grew around the film, however, and it was a popular grey market title for years thanks to bootleg releases from companies like Luminous Film And Video Works (who put out a bootleg English subtitled VHS release which was, for a long time, the only reasonable way for many of us to see the film). Mondo Macabro's DVD finally presents the film in Franco's original version (sans hardcore inserts) in respectable form on home video for the first time.

    The film, which doesn't really have anything to do with exorcists at all, tells the story of a young woman named Linda (Lina Romay) who travels with her mother, Marianne (Jacqueline Laurent), and father, Patrick (Guy Delorme), to the coast for a vacation. They shack up in one of the most unusually designed hotels ever captured on film and decide to hit the ground running and spend the night dancing at a local discotheque. Linda, celebrating her eighteenth birthday, however has been plagued by some bizarre dreams involving lesbian encounters with a heavily made up blonde woman named Lorna (Pamela Stanford).

    As their vacation plays out, it comes to pass that eighteen years ago Patrick had an affair with Lorna, an otherworldly demoness of sorts who employs Howard Vernon as her man servant. She offered him her body and financial success in exchange for the daughter she knew he'd have with Marianne. Now she's come to claim what believes to be rightfully hers, and strange things are afford, not the least of which involves nasty little sea crabs emerging from Marianna's nether regions. While all of this is going on, a woman locked in an asylum (Catharine Lafferiere) writhes on a bed as she undergoes treatment from a doctor played by the director himself (look for the Les Demons one sheet hanging beside his desk).

    Very languidly paced and the very definition of dreamlike (or, if you prefer, plotless), Lorna The Exorcist does not move quickly nor does it tell a particularly riveting story. It's predictable and slow and frequently shot from bizarre angles which suffer from inconsistent focus. That said, it's also a pretty gripping movie. All the Franco kinks and quirks are there, from the fetishized use of the zoom lens to the pubic hair close ups to the requisite night club scene to his cameo and he somehow manages to make this one work. If the sex scenes are long and feel like nothing more than padding, well at least they've got enough of an erotic charge to them that you won't mind so much. The fact that it's all set to an enjoyable, if repetitive, fuzzed out score from composer Andre Benichou doesn't hurt either.

    Really, though, it's the cast that makes this one work. Stanford, who appears to have taken make up lessons from The Drew Carey Shows Mimi, really does have an otherworldly vibe about her that makes her perfect for the part. Delorme and Laurent are fine as Lorna's parents, and if they're unusually comfortable with family nudity, I guess we can just assume they're free spirits or something. The real star of the show, not so surprisingly, is Linda Romay. Franco's obsessions with her have never been more apparent and while he gets us intimately acquainted with her crotch, she's actually delivering a pretty smoldering performance. She's got this look in her eyes during the last thirty minutes that really will have you convinced something supernatural is going on inside that head of hers and it is she, more so than Franco, that deserves the credit for making this truly bizarre film as interesting and watchable as it is.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Lorna The Exorcist is presented in a 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that shows some wear and tear and color fading but which is MILES above the bootleg versions that were previously available. Mondo Macabro has put a disclaimer on the disc before the movie starts stating that different 35mm elements had to be used to put this composite uncut version together, so that's where some of the inconsistencies stem from. There is some aliasing evident along fine lines but this is otherwise a well encoded transfer. Scratches and minor print damage pop up here and there but detail is generally pretty strong. This won't be one for hardcore videophiles but anyone who has seen the movie before will be pretty impressed as needless to say it is absolutely the best looking version around.

    Dolby Digital Mono tracks are provided in English and French with optional English subtitles. Both tracks sound pretty good with properly balanced levels and clean, clear dialogue though it's hard not to notice some background noise here and there. Some might find it mildly distracting, but again, this is a huge step up from what the film's fan base will have been used to over the years. There are a few scenes that were never dubbed into English, so when watching the film with the English version enabled the movie will switch to French and English subtitles will automatically appear on screen. For the most part, it looks like the cast members are speaking French in the film, so this track feels more appropriate but either one will work fine.

    As it was with their Sinner disc, the extras start off with an interesting featurette with author Stephen Thrower (carried over from the Sinner release) in which he talks for seventeen minutes about his appreciation for the director, who he describes as a cinematic alchemist and in which he discusses Franco's style and why he likes it. It's an affectionate piece that does a good job of at least attempting to explain why so many people are so drawn to his films. Thrower appears in a second thirteen minute featurette in which he talks more specifically about Lorna, discussing its different themes, some of the technical aspects of the film, it's varied and storied history, and what makes it unique in Franco's catalogue.

    Also included (and carried over from Sinner) is a fourteen minute interview with Gerard Kikoine who worked on the film as a sound editor. Here Kikoine talks about working with Franco, about the film's producer Robert de Nesle and his affection for the ladies, and about the different performers who worked on this picture. He tells some interesting stories about the shoot, shares an amusing anecdote about Howard Vernon and more and also talks about how he came to work on this and quite a few other Franco films around this time in his career.

    Rounding out the extras are some interesting essays from Pete Tombs on the film, text biographies for Howard Vernon, Lina Romay, Pamela Stanford, Jaqueline Laurent and Guy Delorme, and of course, the ever enjoyable Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selections. The packaging notes some deleted/extended scenes are included, but they're nowhere to be found on the DVD.

    The Final Word:

    While it would have been undeniably awesome to have seen an interview or commentary with Franco or Romay included on the disc, this is otherwise a pretty impressive release of one of Franco's more interesting films. Romay's performance is remarkably charged and while the direction may seem disjointed at times, it adds to the quirky and dreamlike qualities that make the movie as engrossing as it is. Overall, there's no reason anyone who enjoys Franco's output won't want to own this.























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