The Film (1/5)
Jess Franco, to me, is the epitome of a hit or miss director. When he hits, it is usually absolutely fantastic, something along the lines of Vampyros Lesbos, Venus in Furs, A Virgin Among the Living Dead, etc. When he misses it usually falls at the exact opposite end of the spectrum, and we get utter crap like Oasis of the Zombies, Mansion of the Living Dead, or Mari Cookie and the Killer Tarantula. Unfortunately, Paula-Paula, Jess Franco's first film in a number of years falls squarely on the miss section of the spectrum, and while there are a few things to recommend it, it is largely an outright failure.
The film is allegedly based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic horror Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, but in all honestly it has as much in common with that work as Caress of the Vampire has with Dracula. The film stars Carmen Montes as Paula, Paula is currently confined to a mental hospital after murdering her lesbian lover Paula played by Paula Davis. I feel like the Caress of the Vampire comparison is pretty close to what we have here, because if you were into direct to video schlock in the late 90's like I was, you might remember this oddity, about a vampire moving next door to a woman, and spending the next 60 minutes crawling in a circle with her lesbian vampire lover on her bed. Paula-Paula sort of feels like that, the whole film is essentially in Paula the first memory, as she things back to all the sexual shenanigans with Paula the second. This tedium is occasionally broken up with Paula 1 nude exercising. The film also features a cameo from Lina Romay.
The only really good thing I can say about Paula-Paula is the soundtrack, which was compromised by Jazz Pianist Friederich Gulda, who did the score for a few early Jess Franco films. I'm not much of a Jazz aficionado, but I like what I am hearing on this track. Aside, from the soundtrack though there is nothing to really here to recommend, I guess if you're 14, and don't have access to the internet, but still have a way of getting a crappy Jess Franco audio video experience on DVD, you might enjoy the nudity, but really that's stretching it. Which is really a shame, because Franco is absolutely capable of greatness, which he has proven time and again. Unfortunately, for Franco and for us Paula-Paula is far from that greatness.
The audio/video on this release is surprisingly good. The film itself is presented in a nice 1:66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, it definitely looks like it was shot on DV, but the colors are nice, the flesh tones are accurate, black levels are solid, and there is a nice level of detail. The audio is presented in a stereo 2.0 Spanish track, and the dialogue (what little there is), is completely audible, and the Jazz soundtrack is mixed perfectly, and sounds great here.
Not too many extras here, but what we have is at least interesting. There in an introduction by director Jess Franco, where he admits that he finished the film half an hour prior to recording this introduction, also 3 short interview segments with Franco, all of which seem to utilize the same apartment (Jess's own?) that Jess used for the primary set for Paula -Paula. The interviews are for the most part all interesting, but I have to admit I love hearing Jess Franco speak at length on anything, I will say I found the interviews more interesting than the movie itself.
Not a great Franco film, but the soundtrack is awesome, so if you like Jazz, naked lesbians, and naked women on exercise machines you might have something here. The A/V work is solid, and the extras are a nice accompaniment to the film. Recommended if you're desperate for a new Franco fix, all others proceed with caution.