Here we go with another Jess Franco Double Bill from
the Tartan Grindhouse Collection, to follow on from Volume
1's Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein and
The Curse of Frankenstein. This time it's Devil's
Island Lovers (1974), and Night of the Assassins
(1976) - again in Spanish with English subtitles.
Devil's Island Lovers a young couple is wrongly accused
of murder and initially sentenced to death. However, they
are eventually sent to two separate and isolated prisons in
South America with sadistic wardens into abuse and torture.
When a man admits on his deathbed that he framed the couple,
a lawyer demands to be taken to see them with thoughts of
a retrial. His trip turns out to be a wasted one, as a fellow
captive takes pity on the imprisoned young woman and helps
her to escape and meet-up with her lover. But her helper is
in the pocket of the director. Can the lawyer save them in
film has a very simple structure, the majority of which is
played-out in the first ten minutes, and goes nowhere thereafter.
As in The Curse of Frankenstein it's aided by the presence
of British actor Denis Price as the lawyer, but he's seldom
on screen and when he is he's usually standing around fanning
his face with his hat and looking wholly unconcerned. What
little substance there is in this film is centred on the security
prisons. In other words, it seems to concentrate more on revelling
in abuse and exploitation than actually putting itself across
as a story of injustice, as it should. There were different
variants of this movie edited for world markets with diverse
censorship laws. This disc contains thirty minutes of footage
shot for the sexploitation version, which looks like another
poor 1970s porn flick (ooah matron!) with sex scenes strangely
bereft of any sex appeal. Ironically, the finished version
of that one was actually shorter, even though the longest
scenes were those such as the distraction of the guard. It
simply tells me that at no time was the story foremost in
the director's mind.
Night of the Assassins a rich man is attacked in his
own home and buried alive by a masked and cowled assailant.
Days later his relatives gather for the reading of the will.
When the initial reading causes controversy a representative
from Scotland Yard in England, who is investigating the death,
instructs them all to remain in the dead man's mansion until
it is sorted out. But the mysterious masked assailant returns
and begins to kill the relatives. What is the link to the
Book of the Apocalypse? Are the killings supernatural in origin,
based in greed, or simply revenge?
film is probably more widely known than the other three so
far, and that's not without reason. While there doesn't seem
to be that much action (even the killings take place at a
moderate pace, like it's siesta time or something), there
is significantly more going on. This is a slow, but well-structured
murder mystery which hints briefly at the supernatural. Perhaps
the better story is due to the fact it's based on a story
by horror fiction maestro Edgar Allan Poe; however, in this
portrayal you'd have to be two pork pies short of a picnic
not to guess who the killer is well in advance of the conclusion.
Although Assassins is quite well done, I also felt
it was a lost opportunity that incorporates none of the style
inherent in the Hammer films.
improvement on Volume 1. I look forward to Volume
3's Linda and Bloody Moon to see if the