Written by: Robert de Nesle, Jess Franco, and Nicole Guettard
Directed by: Jess Franco
Starring: Pamela Stanford, Guy Delorme, and Lina Romay
Reviewed by: Brett G.
When her flesh begins to crawlÖso will yours!
The runaway success of The Exorcist made producersí heads spin worldwide, and the result was a slew of possession and exorcism-themed films from all corners of the globe. It should come as no surprise that one of the genreís most notorious names threw his hat into the ring. Iím speaking of course of Jess Franco, the man with nearly 200 films credited to his various pseudonyms (he can seemingly claim about 200 of those as well). Depending on your sensibilities, an erotic, Franco-helmed take on this sub-genre either excites or terrifies you; either way, though, itís hard not to be at least a little bit intrigued by Lorna The Exorcist.
Patrick Mariel is a successful businessman whose daughter, Linda, is about to celebrate her birthday. For the occasion, his family heads out on a vacation that is soon interrupted by phone calls from a mysterious woman. Sheís the titular Lorna, who is actually some kind of sorceress that Patrick met years ago; back then, he made a deal with this she-devil that resulted in all of his fortune. In exchange, Lorna would get his then-unborn daughter when she turned eighteen years old. Of course, Linda is now turning eighteen and Lorna has returned to make Patrick keep his end of the deal.
The first thing youíll notice here is a distinct lack exorcists, despite the title. Anyone accustomed to the opportunistic and exploitative tactics of producers and distributors of the era will hardly be surprised to know that this title change was likely just a desperate cash grab to cash in on the recently successful film. In fact, the film barely resembles a ďpossessionĒ film at all, at least in the traditional sense. Itís mostly just a poorly plotted, melodramatic take-off of Faust, though it may be the sleaziest version of that tale ever committed to film. This one takes little time in announcing its intentions, as the opening ten minutes features a very explicit and erotic lesbian scene that falls just short of being hardcore pornography. Itís interesting to note that the original theatrical version of this film was lost for nearly 40 years; all that was left of it was a version that was re-cut into a porno film during the 80s. One wonders why a producer felt such a need to do that, as Francoís original version is chock full of eroticism, with the ďplotĒ really only serving as an interlude between the filmís sex scenes.
Indeed, such sleaze is a hallmark of most Franco films. Lorna carries many of the directorís other signatures, like his propensity for dramatic zooms and a droning musical score thatís highlighted by one particularly repetitive piece of music. Long-time collaborator (and wife) Lina Romay also shows up here as Linda, the innocent daughter who is being seduced by the evil Lorna, who is essayed by Pamela Stanford, another Franco regular. Neither puts on a particularly good performance (nor does anyone else in the film), but thatís also to be expected and would be akin to criticizing the acting in softcore porn, which is all this is. The thin story isnít helped by the abundance of exposition explaining the backstory involving Patrick and Lorna; and, if that werenít enough, Franco even tosses in a flashback that shows the story weíve already been told (as if he could resist actually showing a couple of sex scenes to pad the length).
The film also happens to be masquerading under the pretense of being a horror film; this sort of erotic Euro-horror is practically a sub-genre in and of itself, and I suppose Lorna sidles in just fine along others of its ilk. While it doesnít reach consistently outrageous heights, there are a few memorable moments strewn in there. Letís just say one scene involves a deadly case of crabs, while another makes Udo Kierís virgin blood-drinking scene in Blood for Dracula seem quaint by comparison. Thereís even an incestuous vibe going on between Lorna and Linda, as the former actually refers to the latter as her daughter throughout the film. It canít quite keep up its insanity for the entire run-time though, as these scenes are sparsely parceled out amidst all the sex.
Obviously, Lorna The Exorcist isnít much more than a smut film, and it doesnít really try to be anything more. Itís unabashed, unfiltered Franco through and through, as no raunchy camera angle is left unused (letís just say we get really up close and personal with the two female leads) and few taboos are unexplored. Mondo Macabro has blessed the world with this uncut version of the film, which has never been seen on home video until now. The on-screen menu warns you that this print is culled from several different sources, which leads to varying picture quality. All in all, itís not a bad presentation--some scenes are more spotty than others--but itís very watchable. Itís obviously not a reference quality disc to show off to your friends (then again, this isnít the a film to show off to them, period). The disc provides both English and French soundtracks, with appropriate subtitles. Extras include an interview Gerard Kikoine, Stephen Thrower, deleted and extended scenes, and previews for other Mondo Macabro offerings. This is a DVD company thatís been dedicated to bringing home the wild side of world cinema, and they certainly delivered that with Lorna. The uninitiated will likely be fairly shocked; however, anyone who has spent a night with Malabimba and her contemporaries will find this a modest curiosity at best. Rent it!
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