Kristofer Upjohn - Jess Franco- The Most Dangerous Filmmaker [Stark House Press - 2018]Jess Franco stands as one of the most prolific, versatile & at times creative directors to appear from with-in the exploitation genre. Between the late 1950’s & mid 2010’s he directed one hundred & fifty films, which saw him dipping his toe in pretty much every exploitation sub-genre going from: gothic horror, erotic horror, Women In Prison, cannibal & slasher films, trippy erotic, hard & soft-core porn, 80’s action & adventure, and so on. This just shy of two hundred page book attempts to pick-out some of the gems from Franco’s truly massive filmography- giving each one a critical overview.
The book presents it’s self in the form an A5 sized paperback book- featuring a colour cover, and black & white inner- taking in a mixture of texts, film stills, and poster artwork. In all forty-six films are covered in the book, with each review/critique running between a page & half, and seven pages. There’s also an introduction and a full filmography of all of Franco’s film.
The author of the book is Kristofer Upjohn- a lifelong fan of off-beat/ cult cinema- this is his sixth book, and he also writes online for various publications too. The style of the forty-six reviews are a blend of cult fan banter, fleeting facts, and stabs at a more scholarly assessment of Franco’s work- though it never goes too dusty & academic. At times it does feel like he’s seemingly over-praise certainly films, without much critical back-up/ analysing to his claims- so at times it does come across a bit ‘Fan-boy’ focused. Though that said, for the most part, the reviews are enjoyable enough- been effective for both fans of Franco’s work, and newbie’s to the king of Euro-sleaze. The films reviewed don’t follow any chronological path, so Upjohn does jump all over the years from one review to the next- and at times you do wonder the logic behind some of the sequencing of the write-ups
I know there has been a handful of Franco books- but the only other I’m fully familiar with is Stephen Throwers truly epic & excellent Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco- Vol One( Vol two is due any day now!). And of course this book goes nowhere near the depth, scope or balance look at Franco’s work of Throwers tome- but as a dip in & out read its effective enough. And it’s made me re-visit certainly films, which is always positive.
In conclusion, I can certainly recommend Jess Franco- The Most Dangerous Filmmaker to all who are looking for an effective, if not a terrible in-depth look at this highly important cult directors work.Roger Batty