Monday, May 5, 2014

The Hot Nights of Linda (1975)

AKA But Who Raped Linda?, Erotic Dreams, Come Close, Blond Emmanuelle, Plaisir Solitaire (Solitary Pleasure), La felicità nel peccato (The Happiness in Sin) and Linda, i gymni eromeni (Linda, Naked Mistress)

Its literally impossible to discuss the filmography of Jess Franco without encountering one of the most interesting yet at times frustrating aspects regarding his career, that being the alternate version. Even those with a minor knowledge of Franco should be well aware that several of his films exist in multiple versions ranging from softcore versions, versions with hardcore footage (sometimes shot by Franco himself, sometimes not) added at the insistence of producers in order to sell the film to the adult market, versions cut to appease the censors of various countries and so forth. Perhaps the most famous example of this would be the many versions of Female Vampire (1973) released under such titles as Erotikill, The Bare-Breasted Countess and The Loves of Irina amongst others. Another well known case is the release of A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1971) featuring additional zombie footage shot by fellow Euro horror legend Jean Rollin nearly a decade after the original version of the film had been released. Then there’s of course the cut version of Exorcism (1974) released to home video as Demoniac. Helmed during one of Franco’s most exhaustively prolific periods, The Hot Nights of Linda is another film alongside countless others to have had more than one version released and in its originally intended form is a quintessential Franco experience, one that surely could not have been imagined by no other filmmaker.

Marie-France (Alice Arno) is hired as a live-in caregiver by Paul Radeck (Paul Muller) to care for his paralyzed daughter Linda at the families seaside home. Upon arriving, Marie immediately hits it off with Olivia (Lina Romay), Linda’s nymphomaniac cousin who has lived with the Radeck’s nearly all her life since the death of her parents. Marie also notices Radeck’s strange behavior and is taken aback by his rather harsh views regarding Linda’s condition and his unwillingness to discuss how Linda ended up in her current state. It becomes obvious to Marie very quickly that there is something Radeck is hiding, a family secret that he intends to never be known, but one that Olivia knows all the details of.

Italian poster
What may surprise many about The Hot Nights of Linda (Les nuits brûlantes de Linda, which has been mistranslated over the years as “The Brutal Nights of Linda”) is that for the film entitled “The Hot Nights of Linda” is just how subdued it is in the sex department especially when compared to other Franco films from this period. To be sure there is an abundance of salacious and taboo material to be found but nowhere near as much as say Female Vampire or Lorna the Exorcist (1974). What’s also interesting is just how little the titular character of Linda factors in the overall film. Franco’s main focus is the mystery surrounding Radeck and just what is the dark secret he is do desperate to keep as well as Olivia’s knowledge of it. Not only is it a well crafted story but the more Franco reveals about this odd family the already feeling of uncomfortable isolation and general strangeness is enhanced. This type of twisted family dynamic is something that Franco would return to again in films like La casa de las mujeres perdidas (1983) and Broken Dolls (1999). Franco also included a comedic side plot involving a bumbling detective and a photo journalist that actually works and isn’t all that distracting. Of course the film also benefits from its cast with Arno and Lina making a great match (unsurprisingly Olivia is the most interesting character and Lina was clearly enjoying herself) and Paul Muller shining in one of his most bizarre roles.

During his solo interview segment on Severin’s 3-disc release for the film Franco claims that there are 10 versions of the film that exist. One such edit was a French hardcore version which Severin have included as the 3 disc on their limited combo pack, affectingly referred to as the “French hard banana version”. Quality wise its along the lines of a 5th generation blurry VHS copy, something which Severin were upfront about from the get go. Still its a nice inclusion as its a perfect example of the quality of prints Franco fans have had to deal with until Severin came to the rescue with their release. Also included is an interview with both Jess and Lina who both agree that the feature on the first and second discs under the But Who Raped Linda? title is their preferred version. Its a great segment for fans to see the two of them together reminiscing about the film as well as their overall time together although a bit sad knowing both a gone now. There’s a nice reel of silent outtakes as well and an interview with writer Stephen Thrower who’s information as always is invaluable especially in regards to how this film relates to Franco’s other works. Its another brilliant release from Severin for a demented little film that should feel right at home on the shelves of any serious Franco fanatic.

No comments:

Post a Comment