Vampyros Lesbos is considered Spanish cult director Jess Franco's "masterpiece of erotic cinema" and has been described as a "psycho-sexual horror freak out". I've seen more than several of his films and this is certainly the best, though some were pretty bad. Regardless, Vampyros Lesbos has cemented itself into the cannon of art-schlock cinema and deserves a status of cult cinematique. And certainly, Soledad Miranda, the actress portraying leading lady vampire Countess Nadine Carody, deserves her honour as a legendary cult siren.
For a long time most only encountered the relatively tame Spanish version first released in 1974. Its masterpiece freak-out fame isn't truly appreciated till encountering the more recent dvd released 'Franko Manera' German language version from 1971. Yes, it's naughtier, with all the nude lesbian bloodsucking action lovingly restored. And all while speaking German. And we all know what German does to nudie lezbo vampire films. It makes them even more weird.
Vampyros Lesbos is set in a Turkey of 1970. That's a cool, smooth, dressy Turkey that knew how to wear scarves and tight suits and over-sized sunglasses while lounging on hotel terraces as speedboats shoot past Turkish minarets. This is a very groovy Turkey of naughty cabaret and free love in designer dresses that fall off real easy like. And with all this titillating grooviness you don't have to be brilliant with the camera or with the acting or anything creative like that. Everything you need to know is paraded out front so there's no need to concentrate on anything but that.
But the grooviest thing wasn't the scenery or the stylishly clothed or unclothed people in the scenery. The grooviest thing isn't that this forgotten but rediscovered classic has obviously inspired a few film-makers and novelists (there's one scene Interview with the Vampire parallels and most of The Hunger can be first seen here first. And this is not to mention much of the porn industry of the seventies). It isn't the repetitive zooms of significance or cutaways to insects or dripping blood. It isn't the side-burns or macho moustaches or the turtle neck sweaters. It isn't that real blondes and brunettes are real blondes and brunettes. It isn't that these naturally exotic women have dimply bottoms or breasts no contemporary Hollywood casting agent would polaroid for a bit role in Bedroom Eyes Part Six.
No, the grooviest thing in Vampyros Lesbos is the music. Yes, the music is glorious psychedelic lounge. It's like those wicked theme tracks from cool British TV shows from the '60s but gone to drug induced sleaze. The idiosyncrasy of bachelorette pad anthems under the influence of sampling and nitric oxide. This soundtrack is worth getting, even if just to pull out and play to unsuspecting friends as you shout out, "Man, isn't that just groovy keen?" And when you get a quiet moment between tracks, just say to yourself, as if no one else is in the room, "Those naughty vampire gals. They sure in need of a spankin'."