Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Muriel Montossé, Ada Tauler, Jack Taylor, Karine Gambier, Rita Moreno, Vitor Mendes, Ly Frey
Length: 87 min
Rating: FSK 18
Label: Ascot Elite Home Entertainment
Release Date: Nov 19, 2013
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: German, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
- Original German Trailers
- Photo Gallery
Another entry into Ascot Elite Home Entertainment’s Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection and one more Franco film steeped in ‘tropical’ charm: Voodoo Passion aka Call of the Blonde Goddess (1977). If you look at the catalogue of the director’s films produced by Erwin C Dietrich a lot of them appear to be shot at the same palm tree-lined locations—Women in Cell Block 9, Barbed Wire Dolls, and Ilsa the Wicked Warden all come to mind. Moving away from the “Women in Prison” scenario of the aforementioned flicks, Franco turns out an erotic thriller with this title. The story revolves around a woman who is haunted by violent dreams that are so lucid she begins to wonder if she really has been carrying out murder in real life while apparently sleeping. Her husband insists it’s all in her imagination, but with her fragile psyche beginning to fail, the line between nightmare and reality begins to blur. A lesser known Franco title, this one has not garnered the attention of some of his better-known pictures from this period; however that does not mean that the film is not a worthwhile addition to the Golden Goya Collection.
Voodoo Passion to all intents and purposes follows a similar plot thread to Franco’s earlier effort the dreamy and surreal Nightmares Come at Night (1970). Both stories are steeped in the director’s inimitable eroticism; although Voodoo Passion turns things up a notch to add in a large dose of tribal fever. Jack Taylor appears in both pictures—in Nightmares he has a small but memorable role, in Voodoo he has a meatier part to play. Also worth noting, is a scene that appears to be replicated in both films featuring Taylor cavorting with one buxom beauty while being watched by another. Similarities aside, it can be argued that of the two pieces, Voodoo Passion tells a far more coherent story than Nightmares, as well as a heavier dose of in your face sex. Nightmares Come At Night, on the other hand, goes for Franco’s non-linear weaving of a plotline and dreamy visual approach and therefore could be considered a little more on the ‘arty’ side when compared to the no nonsense approach of Voodoo Passion.
The story builds along the lines of a psychological thriller. Ada Tauler plays Susan, a newlywed who has arrived in Haiti to move in with her new husband Jack (Jack Taylor). As soon as she arrives, housekeeper Inès (Muriel Montossé) advises her on the local traditions of witchery and voodoo, setting the scene for matters to progress quickly. After finding her new sister in-law Olga naked in the marital bed, things start to get quite weird, and remain so for the rest of the running time. Jack apparently has a ‘close’ relationship with sister Olga, which results in long drawn out shots of Olga pleasuring herself to the sounds of desire coming from the newlyweds in the room next door. This is even before the nightmares begin—nightmares that bring plenty of opportunities to see Susan writhing around in the buff while tormented by violent thoughts of murder and mayhem.Like a lot of Franco’s work around this period, the emphasis here is mostly on the sex, less on the violence. We get a taste of what Susan’s nightmares suggest, but the gory stuff remains solely off camera. Blood and brutality give way in favor of long drawn out scenes of feverish sexed-up dancing. The twists and turns are quite predictable—especially if you have seen the aforementioned Nightmares Come At Night—but come nicely wrapped in the gloss of sexy ladies and some hypnotic camerawork. Bruno Nicolai provides an enchanting score—the music wavers between sleazy porn jazz and some interesting electronic type riffs—and it all adds to set the scene. While it would be easy to dismiss the film as run of the mill Euro-trash on face value, there are some real flourishes in the camerawork and design that demonstrate just how much of a visionary Franco could be. Firstly the martial bedroom consists of a bed surrounded by mirrors; the image of Ada Tauler naked is captured reflected over and over in the glass. There is another scene that involves a sexual encounter with a couple that ends in death and this too shows a fantastic flair through the lens—the camera panning away at the climactic moment, the couple are shown blurred into the background with a single white orchid in focus. Again another shot in the bathroom shows various reflections of Karine Gambier’s intimate body parts on various surfaces simultaneously. It is this minute attention to detail that makes this the work of Franco’s and Franco’s alone.
For the cast, Franco regulars are assembled and put through their paces. Ada Tauler—an actress obviously comfortable with her body—takes the lead as Susan with ease. Karine Gambier, as sister Olga, makes Tauler look like a shrinking violet by comparison—the two share the obligatory Franco Lesbian moment or two. Jack Taylor, who helms the male cast as husband Jack, is once again put through the mill as the male romantic lead. Muriel Montossé is a striking presence in her role as Inès. As with most of these releases, for English speakers, the dub track here provides an extra level of entertainment, especially in the scenes between Jack and Olga and the less than convincing tone of the dialogue.
Ascot Elite Home Entertainment’s blu-ray upgrade of Voodoo Passion is another shining example of quality restoration work that doesn’t go too far. The print shows no damage and is so pristine the picture literally leaps off the screen. Detail is well defined, and flesh tones (and there are plenty on offer to assess) show good saturation and hue. The film manages to retain its seventies feel and does not look “digitized.” Fine film grain is retained, and there are no signs of edge enhancement, or DNR.
As with the print, the sound again demonstrates the fantastic restoration work from Ascot Elite in transferring this to blu-ray. Sound levels are well balanced and distortion free. The film comes with the following audio tracks- German DTS– HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS – HD Master Audio 5.1 and French DD 2.0. In addition to the three audio tracks, there are also Japanese subtitles included, though sadly no English for the German audio. The sound quality especially highlights the fantastic score by Nicolai, which presents as rich and multi-layered.
Sadly minimal on extras, Voodoo Passion only comes with a collection of German trailers for some of the other work featured in the Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection, and a slideshow of promotional stills.
A lesser known title from the director’s gargantuan film catalogue, Voodoo Passion is everything the title suggests, and therefore does not disappoint. A sleazier reworking of the elements used in his earlier work—something common with Franco—the film is nevertheless a rewarding entry into the Golden Goya Collection. You will not find a better example of the director’s work upgraded to blu-ray and therefore if tribal cavorting, stacks of beautiful women flashing their intimate parts, and fun dubbing is your thing check it out today.