Jess Franco’s Venus in Furs – Screen 13 Road Trip Part One
5-15-70, Chicago – This round of Jess Franco ads focuses on the psychedelic classic Venus in Furs, released by Commonwealth United and picked up by AIP, who connected with the company around April, 1970 (Boxoffice Magazine report on 4-18-70). Filmed around Late 1968, the film with the Working title of Black Angel and released internationally as Paroximus did alright in The US despite having no connection to the story by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. the Jazzy paranormal murder mystery co-starring James Darren and Barbara McNair, and including some music by Manfred Mann and Mike Hugg who were enjoying another run of British hits before morphing Mann’s band into the Earth Band, reportedly first played the US back in March, 1970 in Anderson, Indiana and played for a few years in a wide range of theaters although not as many as another of Franco’s 1970 US releases, Eugenie.
Both Darren and McNair provide some strong performances as a couple being torn apart as Darren is dragged into the story about a ghost named Wanda (Maria Rhom) who kills a group of jet set sadists who caused her death at a dark swingers party that he witnessed – with the legendary Klaus Kinsi and Dennis Price playing those among the group. Using some great library music including Syd Dale’s “Marco Polo” at the start and including some good jams by Mann and Hugg which possibly surprised some of the band’s followers who only knew of their classic Brit Beat hits (one with Franco!), the film was sophisticated and dream-like showcasing some of the Director’s best work. Although not having the pull of the X rating or stars that made Eugenie a good pick to play, or did it have many good critical notices to help hype the film which was too edgy for the mainstream but a little dramatic for the Adult market, it fitted the time perfectly and is a good example of the Adult-level Cinema that was a short lived trend through the 60’s and very Early 70’s of which Franco was a contributor of even if it took a while to get noticed by later-day fans who rented the videos – Republic Pictures Home Video unleashed this and Count Dracula around the Early 80’s.
6-19-70, Nashville – Another of what could be called the First Run showings at a place not known for Exploitation.
6-28-70, Pelham, NC, “South” of Danville, Virginia – Playing at a center for Exploitation, the ad here focuses only on Maria Rhom’s seductive look which was thrown into the film after it was titled what many call it today. I seriously wound not call Venus in Furs a Drive In film due to it’s dream like quality better suited for a cinema, but then again it was a way to sell the film.
7-22-70, Des Moines – A good pairing with AIP’s release de Sade. One can think that the titles were brought together with literary influence, despite Venus in Furs not having anything to do with the risque reading that was in fashion at the time.
9-20-70 – Trying for a Horror night at the Bessemer City DI, it was something that might be called a mis-match of two good flicks to some, but it was good for a night out for a few customers anyways!
10-1-70, Urbana, Illinois – A very small theater playing Franco’s film with the 1970 hit by a Stateside king of Sexploitation in what’s the best pairing of this history. The Thunderbird is now the Canopy Club.
9-30-70, LA – This is possibly the best known double feature for Venus in Furs. Playing up the sex angle in a time when Denmark was taking over the scene with three exposes of it’s Adult industry, it could be understood if it under-performed.
10-3-70, San Bernardino with a Trans American release from the wing of AIP that had it’s more edgy fare.
5-11-71, East Liverpool, OH- Playing with the Adult hit Kama Sutra, a highlight of the sexy “Sex Ed” scene