The Film (4.5/5)
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.
I am going to open up this review with what is certainly going to be a controversial statement. Wicked Women, now that I have seen every single film in the Ascot-Elite Dietrich series of Blu-ray releases is my absolute favorite of the pack. Yes, I find it greater than Jack the Ripper, Barbed Wire Dolls, and Doriana Grey. It might seem an odd choice from an outside looking in, but I had more fun with Wicked Women than any other film in the Dietrich line, and in all honestly sometimes that is all it takes.
The film stars Lina Romay as Margereta, a young woman who joins a couple during her vacation. Unbeknownst to her she is being used not solely for her companionship, and her physical offerings, but to assist the pair with smuggling diamonds. One day the pair get caught up in a murder, abandon her, and she is taken to an asylum to be treated. Unfortunately, no one around her will forget about the diamonds, and are convinced that she is aware of their whereabouts, and keep trying to use her to secure them, no matter the cost.
Franco pulls out all the stops in Wicked Women. He is a director whose work tends to be at it's best when he is absolutely unhinged and tosses all his ideas at the screen, and that is what happens here. Wicked Women is a women in prison film in disguise, a crime film, a sexploitation flick, and even offers elements of a giallo with a masker murderer stalking the asylum during Margereta's stay. This is the type of film where the viewer should go in not expecting what will happen next.
The film is grounded by an excellent central performance by Lina Romay who is more restrained in her performance here. We also get solid direction from Franco keeping some of his better known issues in check (not too much zooming here, decent focus). The film like a lot of the Dietrich series seems more of a springboard for the sex scenes, which are plentiful, but the moments between are entertaining, and contribute to a greater whole. Overall, an excellent and underrated entry from Franco.
In keeping with the other films in the Ascot Elite Golden Goya Collection Wicked Woman receives a beautiful restore in an 1080p 1:78:1 transfer that is quite detailed, has a nice amount of grain, and very nice colors. There were some issues with softness, but I believe those were mainly production related.
The audio in the film is presented in German with English subtitles. The dialogue, score, and effects come through nicely, and I found nothing to complain about during my listen.
Photo gallery that’s all.
Wicked Woman does not have the finest reputation among the Franco faithful, however, it ended up being my favorite among the Dietrich produced series. The A/V restoration from Ascot Elite looks and sounds wonderful, and though the extras are slim the Blu-ray certainly comes RECOMMENDED.