The Film (2/5)
Jess Franco's career started to shift drastically in the early 70's. Franco’s early 60's films were a bit more traditional stylistically, but as the 60's drew to a close his style began to evolve. While his work with the producer Harry Alan Towers is still more traditionally cinematic in style, it began to test the limits of violence and sexuality in Franco's cinema. It was in the early 70's after the Tower's period when Franco's cinema took the greatest leap of his entire career. Franco became a director whose work could be considered cinematically unhinged.
Franco's work became greater in quantity during this period sometimes shooting upwards of 8-10 films during a single year, and allowing the concept of a traditional narrative to go straight out the window. It is during this period he made the film Nightmares Come at Night. Nightmares Come at Night was thought to be, like his earlier film Sex Charade to be a lost entry in Franco's filmography. The finished film played in one theater, and then disappeared for decades. The film reemerged in 2004, and was put out on DVD in the U.S. by Media Blasters.
The film is lacking in plot even for a Franco film, and seems to tell the story of Anna (Diana Lorys). A women who works as a stripper, who one night falls for, and moves in with another woman named Cynthia. Anna suffers from horrible nightmares that involve the violent deaths of people she knows, the consequence of these nightmares tend to reveal themselves the next day when the people she dreams about actually turn up dead. While all this is happening, a couple in an adjacent house (Soledad Miranda and Andres Monales) spy on her, possibly plotting a theft in the house when the time is right, and the house is empty.
Nightmares Come at Night is a Franco film for the Franco faithful. This is not a film I would seriously push on people unfamiliar with the man's filmography. It is a film that I myself as a Franco fan had much difficulty getting through. What narrative there is feels extremely muddled, and the film tends to concentrate more on softcore sex, stripping, and dancing then anything resembling exposition. Normally with a Franco film I find his anything goes approach a plus, but I found Nightmares Come at Night, quite a bit of a drag for most of it's running time.
Allegedly the moments with Miranda and Monales were taken from a second incomplete crime feature that Franco was working on, and with a little added shooting made them fit into Nightmares Come at Night. The fact that these fit at all is a testament to the man's ability as a spontaneous filmmaking artist. When taken in as a whole Nightmares Come at Night feels less like a narrative feature film, and more of an avant-garde film experiment. I just cannot be certain that was what Jess intended.
Redemption have presented Franco's Nightmares Come at Night in a AVC encoded 1:66:1 1080p transfer that looks quite excellent for the most part. The colors as presented are vivid and bright, blacks are solid as well for the most part, and detail is pleasing to the eye. That being said there is bit of print damage throughout the film, and also a bit of a mark that runs down the side of the screen during portions of the film.
The audio is presented in both French and English LPCM 1.0 mono tracks. Both tracks are servicable with dialogue coming through nice and clearly, as does the score and effects for the film. I did note some minor hissing on the track throughout the feature.
Redemption have put together a solid package for their Blu-ray release of Jess Franco's Nightmares Come at Night. The most substantial and interesting extra on the disc is, of course, the commentary by Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas who guides us through an informative run through of the film in his usual style. His commentary on these Franco Blu-ray's much like his work on the Bava disc of yore is filled to the brim with interesting facts about the film, and I certainly hope he is brought back by Redemption for future titles, as his presence certainly enhances the viewing experience.
We also get a 20 minute featurette called Eugenie's Nightmares of a Sex Charade which interviews a group of film historians, Eurocine employees, and Franco himself (from older footage) about this film, and this period in Franco's career, and also about the missing Franco film Sex Charade. We then get a 6 minute restoration featurette featuring Little Death director (and Kino Producer) Bret Wood. There is also a shared featurette included on all 3 recent Franco releases called Jess, What are you doing now? Which interviews friends and fans of the director on what he might be doing in a supposed afterlife. The disc is rounded off by trailers for other Kino/Redemption Franco titles.
Not one of Franco's best films, Nightmares Come at NIght is a jazzy bizarre non-linear film from the Spanish cult cinema master. The A/V restoration is quite nice considering the history of the elements, and the extras help make it an excellent package. RECOMMENDED.