The unreleased Euro psych score to the French/Portuguese X-rated version of The Devils meets The Witchfinder General! Proudly claiming the dubious accolade of the Spanish sexploitation version of The Devils as the distributor’s most bankable asset, this previously banned 1973 European witch flick would rip the art house facade from Ken Russell’s well polished box office smash and push the envelope way beyond the closet titillation of the gentrified new wave controversy seekers. Delivered on a comparable shoestring budget as the 55th feature in Jess Franco’s filmography of approximately 203 completed movies, The Demons (Les Démons), directed under the Anglicised pseudonym Clifford Brown, took many of the Franco’s sexually stylistic watermarks (epitomised in his Vampyros Lesbos trilogy) adding witchcraft, possession and nunsploitation against a rural Mediterranean backdrop before disappearing into the woods. Whilst clearly taking inspirational plot cues from Michael Reeve’s The Witchfinder General (UK 1968) and drawing comparisons with scenes from Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna Of Sadness (Japan 1973) this B-Movie reduction of Franco’s wide palette of colourful ingredients has in recent years provided enthusiasts/champions/defenders of the workaholic horrotica bastion with a rare and treasured addition. Future-proofed by an essential component, omnipresent in Franco’s films, it is the mysterious commercially unobtainable soundtrack music that cements the unwaning interest in his risqué brand of unconventional shock/schlock sinema (not hindered my the enigmatic title card misinformation that often surrounds the original composers) and the music herein that has given Franco’s harshest critics a second chance/reason to reevaluate this man’s unapologetic art.
Following on from Finders Keepers previous expanded release of Bruno Nicolai’s score for Franco’s 1970 adaptation of De Sade (FKR069) this record stands as another tribute to Franco’s life which he lived through the mechanisms of a camera with relentless zeal and a passion to challenge every aspect of movie making along the way. UNDERground, OVERambitious, RIGHT on, LEFTfield, BELOW the radar but ABOVE criticism. INdulgent and OUTrageous, but never middle of the road, Jess Franco was many things but he wasn’t pretentious and never delivered art for art’s sake and I feel honoured to have spent time with him. Franco was in fact a realist, he kept both feet firmly on the ground and a keen eye behind the right side of the lens and if Jess did have any demons his films were his exorcisms, the critics were the bloody judges and his legacy (through the medium of X-rated cinema of variable quality) is immortal.