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There has been a theme of lesbianism running through vampire movies since the 1930's, when Universal produced the highly underrated DRACULA'S DAUGHTER. Other films followed, most notably Roger Vadim's BLOOD AND ROSES and the Hammer produced lesbian vampire trilogy- THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and TWINS OF EVIL. Sadly, none of the above lesbian/vampire sub-genre classics are available on DVD, but we can always hope. At least, we have the Synapse Films release of one of director Jess Franco's VAMPYROS LESBOS ($30).

VAMPYROS LESBOS tells the story of the bewitching Countess Carody (Soledad Miranda a.k.a. Susann Korda), who begins a liaison with Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Strömberg), the agent who has come to settle the estate of Count Dracula, the Countess' departed husband. Of course, the plot has little to do with the fan's interest in this particular film. Director Jess Franco (billed as Franco Manera) imbues the film with a dreamlike quality that enhances the film's soft-core lesbian imagery. Hey, it works for me. The cast of VAMPYROS LESBOS also includes Dennis Price and Paul Müller.

After reading the notes about the transfer, written by Don May Jr., the President of Synapse Films, I was expecting the 1970 production of VAMPYROS LESBOS to look utterly horrible on DVD. This is absolutely not the case. Despite the problems encountered in finding acceptable materials from which a transfer could be made, VAMPYROS LESBOS looks pretty darn good. The wide screen transfer presents the film in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, although it has not been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Synapse utilized a German language print of VAMPYROS LESBOS, which includes more erotic footage than that contained in the original Spanish version. The image has been digitally cleaned up to remove many of the imperfections contained in the source element. However, there are black flashes, where frames have been removed from the print, plus there are noticeable tears and scratches. Film grain is also noticeable, but never distracting. VAMPYROS LESBOS has a pretty good level of detail and the picture is reasonably sharp. Colors are fairly strong, especially reds, which are quite vivid. Flesh tones are appealing; this is especially good, since there is so much flesh to see. Blacks are fairly accurate and the image has fairly smooth contrast. There are no problems with digital compression artifacts.

The German Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack sounds okay, although the film's cool psychedelic music has limited fidelity. English subtitles have been encoded onto the DVD and can be switched off.

Interactive menus are fairly basic, providing the requisite scene selection and set up features. A theatrical trailer is provided as supplement, and is accessible through the menu system. For a film that has never been officially released in America before, Synapse Films has pulled a pretty cool little DVD out of their hat.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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