The Film (2/5)
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.
For those keeping score I have been making my way through the Ascot-Elite Blu-ray releases of the Erwin C. Dietrich era Jess Franco films. These films have helped broaden my view of Franco the director, whose films I had only seen a limited number of prior to this broken marathon. I have recently watched 3 more films from this era, and with Voodoo passion have collided once again with one of the few duds I have watched in this sequence.
In the research I have done thus far, I have seen fans and writers make mention that Voodoo Passion is essentially a remake of Franco's earlier Nightmares Come at Night, and while there are certain visual elements that dovetail between the two films, I do not think this is the case of the director aping his own filmography to make another film. Nightmare Comes at Night for those who don't recall was a thought to be lost Franco film until it was rediscovered in the early 2000's. The film was an oddity for Franco that featured Soledad Miranda in a minor role. The film was essentially 2 incomplete Franco outings, a crime film, and a more offbeat voodoo/jazz film combined in the editing room to create a strange delirious experience that altogether did not make too much sense. It is not Franco's finest hour, nor should I say is Voodoo Passion.
Voodoo Passion on the other hand is much more linear in it's approach that Nightmares Come at Night. Whereas you could very easily see that the earlier film had come from 2 sources, this film was obviously conceived and shot as one final product. If this was meant to be a remake of Nightmares Come at Night, then I really did not get the plot of Nightmares.... at all.
Speaking of the plot the one to this one involves Susan played by Ada Tauler who comes to Haiti to be with her husband (Female Vampire's Jack Taylor). Upon arrival at their estate she discovers two women in their household. Ines, a housekeeper who is a practitioner of voodoo, and Olga, her husbands blond bombshell of a sister who is quite sexual in her approach. The film follows Susan as she attempts to integrate herself into the unfamiliar environment, but is rejected as the world around her gets stranger as the presence of voodoo becomes more pronounced.
The film tries to play around in the suspense/mystery genres during it's runtime, but doesn't quite succeed. That being said I don't think Franco was taking those elements all too seriously, and was just using those as a blueprint with which to get the actresses from one sex scene to the next. The film has a similar vibe in that regard to other films in the Dietrich cycle where he uses genre lightly to allow for more sexual moments into the film.
Ascot Elite in keeping with their other Blu-ray's in the Golden Goya Collection have released the film in it's OAR. The transfer is quite detailed for the most part and colors are nice and lush with only a few soft moments to complain about.
The audio is presented with a variety of options, but for English viewers it's only DTS-HD 5.1 MA in English with no subs. The track is quite suitable with the dubbed dialogue coming through clearly, as does the score and FX. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
The extras include a trailer, and a photo gallery.
Probably my least favorite of the Dietrich Franco's so far, their is still some fun to be had with Voodoo Passion. I would only, however, recommend the film for hardened Francophiles, and not newcomers to the director. The A/V is quite good on the disc, and that is no surprise considering the other film in the series. RECOMMENDED (to Franco fans only).