Exploitation horror legend Jess Franco dies aged 82

The director of Vampyros Lesbos and Count Dracula has died

Jess Franco

Horror director Jess Franco, once referred to as the most dangerous filmmaker alive by the Vatican, has died aged 82.

With three films on the Video Nasties list (Women Behind Bars, Devil Hunter and Bloody Moon), the notorious filmmaker is best known for his work with Christopher Lee and Klaus Kinski on films like Count Dracula, which marked one of the occasions that Lee took on the role of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on a non-Hammer production. He also worked with Lee on The Blood of Fu Manchu, The Castle of Fu Manchu and The Bloody Judge.

In addition to his work with Christopher Lee, Franco is probably best known for The Awful Dr. Orlof, his cannibal and zombie films, and his erotic horrors like Vampyros Lesbos. Franco’s interest in the erotic and transgressive meant that many of his films dealt with sadomasochism, such as Necronomicon (also known as Succubus), Eugenie, the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion, She Killed in Ecstasy, and reached a high point with the Kinski-starring Venus in Furs (also known as Black Angel).

It was these interests that made him such a divisive cult figure, and he has continued to split opinion with horror fans and experts to this day. He was ludicrously prolific (making up to 12 films in a single year, and IMDB counts the number of films directed by him at 199) and his frequent detours into actual pornography didn’t help those who argued that there was more to his work than sexual perversion, but his legacy as one of the true mavericks of European horrror is assured.

You can buy Jess Franco: The Complete Collection on DVD for £34.99 at Amazon.co.uk.