Stars: Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, Alice Arno, Monica Swinn, Jess Franco, Luis Barboo, Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, Raymond Hardy, Anna Watican | Written and Directed by Jess Franco
Countess Irina Karlstein (Lina Romay) is as beautiful as she is deadly. She is a bloodthirsty vampire of course. However, unlike most who have fallen foul to the curse, she doesn’t revel in her acts of fatal lust. Her hunger for genuine love is just as strong as the hunger for the bloody stuff (as well as some of the other bodily fluids available.). Her quest for both finds her returning to her ancestral home. Unfortunately, her insatiable hunger claims many victims. From her gardener (Roger Germanes) to the local dominatrix (Monica Swinn), no one is safe. With an inquisitive forensic pathologist by the name of Dr. Roberts (Jess Franco himself) and his blind sidekick Dr. Orloff (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou) on her case, you’d think the tortured soul would have enough problems. No. Of course not! When a handsome intellectual by the name of Baron Von Rathony (Jack Taylor) crosses her path and the pair fall for each other almost instantly, things become much more complicated.
You want an absurd and crude experience in filmmaking? Bare Breasted Countess (aka Female Vampire) is the one for you. Jess Franco has a reputation for churning out cheap gratuitous garbage and this is almost one of those of films he is reviled for by film snobs. For me? It’s films like this that cement my love for the man. It is extremely crude in its execution, but there are genuine moments of style and flair. One thing for certain is that there is a real dreamlike atmosphere throughout.
The star of show is of course the beautiful Lina Romay who spends the majority of the runtime donning only boots, a belt and a cape. Hey, if she was your wife, I don’t think you have too many problems wanting to show her off! When she isn’t walking round fog-ridden forests literally sucking the life of her victims, she’s having fun with herself, her pillows and the bed posts. There’s a really fine line between gratuitous and borderline pornographic, but it’s never cheap. One thing that did surprise me was just how much you sympathise with the Countess. She’s a mute so it’s thanks to Romay’s subtle, yet effective use of facial expressions that help you feel for her.
The story is solid overall with really no glaring plot-holes. It’s simple and something you may have seen before, but effective. Don’t get me wrong. You are going to laugh unintentionally. Whether it’s Jack Taylor’s wonderful moustache and his Han Solo-esque outfit, Dr. Orloff’s fondling of genitals or the Countess’s also mute manservant’s (Luis Barboo) facial expressions. Bare Breasted Countess is a cheap piece of Franco sleaze for God’s sake! Without spoiling it, the ending is a mind bending hoot too! All in all, this is an experience you’ll never forget!
This new DVD of Bare Breasted Countess from Screenbound’s Maison Rouge label includes the alternate “Horror Version” of the film, under the title Erotikill; two features: Destiny In Soft Focus, and Words For Lina; plus trailers for this and other Screenbound releases: Female Vampires; Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg; and Elsa Fraulein SS.
Bare Breasted Countess is released on March 6th.