The Film (2.5/5)
Jess Franco died a little over one year ago now in April of 2013, as one of the last remaining auteurs of early EuroCult cinema it was a tragic loss, but being in his mid-80's, and having been in declining health for sometime it was hardly unexpected. If one is to find a silver lining in the dark cloud of Franco's tragic passing it would be that over his very long and prolific career the Spanish director left us with over 200 films (more if you qualify the varying cuts of some of his films) to explore and to enjoy for decades to come. Prior to his passing his films began to trickle on to the Blu-ray format with Redemption Films releasing his classics Female Vampire and Exorcism on to the format in October of 2012. However, it would be Ascot-Elite Films with their line of Franco Blu-ray's that have been keeping the maestro's work visible, and in very beautiful Blu-ray editions since late 2013. The series is working it's way down, and we have decided to go back, and review as many of these titles as time allows as these are some of the most gorgeous cult titles on the market, and they offer a great tribute to the late Jess Franco.
Around the World in 80 Beds (Mondo Erotico) opens up with an introduction explaining that it is meant to be an instructional film for couples, before cutting into a scene of sexual torture right out of the intro to Franco's film Exorcism. The tone in the introduction was similar to another favorite of the Dietrich-Franco series Girls in the Night Traffic, and I am a fan of Exorcism, so from the start I found my attention at the ready. Unfortunately, Around the World in 80 Beds while certainly entertaining enough was by far not one of my favorites of the Dietrich-Franco film series.
The film doesn't have a story so much as it plays as a collection of scenes of how people around the world engage in sexual behavior. The scenes are rarely redundant, but as there is no central character or story to relate to the film most solely rely on the viewers enjoyment of each situation individually. Sometimes this works, and sometimes this does not.
I will say the format is the type of thing that should have been perfect fodder for a Jess Franco film, as the director's best films tend to be a mess of genre archetypes thrown together to create something that is distinctly Jess. It just so happens that this collection of scenes never really comes together to create a cohesive whole, and feels like it was made in borrowed time after the completion of Girls in the Night Traffic.
Ascot Elite releases another Jess Franco Blu-ray in the best possible quality for the film in an MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer in the films 1:78:1 aspect ratio. The film's overall look is a bit uneven, but that could be just due to the nature of the production. There is a nice colors, solid detail, decent blacks and flesh tones. There is a bit of damage to the source, and softness throughout.
We get 2 German audio options DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 English subs are provided, and the dialogue, music, and effects on both sound just fine. I did not detect any audio issues during my viewing of the film.
Extras for Around the World in 80 Beds include interviews, documentary featurettes, trailers, and photo galleries.
I watched about 18 Franco films in the span of 3 months, and this is the one that broke me (Sexy Sisters came close). If you're a fan, or a completist you might get some enjoyment out of this one all others your mileage my vary. The A/V restoration is as good as it could get. RECOMMENDED.