A typical slice of '70s Euro-horror-smut from the genre's most prolific contributor, Jess Franco. It's most note-worthy as the film which brought Spanish sex icon Lina Romay to public attention; since then she's appeared in literally dozens of the great man's movies, and continues to do so.
The Countess of Karlstein (Romay) is descended from a family of vampires, and can only stay alive by feasting on the living during bouts of energetic sex. Residing on the picturesque island of Madeira, the mute Countess takes to wandering the woods dressed only in a black cape and belt, seducing her victims and, erm, sucking the life out of them. She believes herself cursed to walk the earth in this way for all eternity, until the day she meets a moustachioed poet who embraces her vampirism and seeks to join her on the other side. Love, eh?
Female Vampire feels like its been filmed in slow-motion — everyone takes a ridiculous amount of time to do anything, be it deliver a sentence, walk across a room, or remove their clothing. Of course, this is Franco's way of padding a flimsy story out to 100 minutes, but were it not for the regular sight of Romay writhing naked, fellating bed posts and humping the life out of every man (and woman) she can get her hands on, things would get very dull very quickly.
But it does still remain kind of fun; the music is hysterically inappropriate, switching arbitrarily between drippy, orchestral balladry and elevator jazz guitar, irrespective of what is happening on screen, while the dubbing is of the standard you'd expect, and as with most of Franco's films of this period you are left with the sense that the director has never actually seen a camera before, such is the wild abandon with which he zooms, tilts and pans across pretty much every scene. Raunchy, dull and hilarious by turns.... it's a Jess Franco movie!
Legendary director of predominantly sex-and-horror-based material, Spanish-born Jesus Franco had as many as 200 directing credits to his name. Trained initially as a musician before studying film at the Sorbonne in Paris, Franco began directing in the late 50s. By using the same actors, sets and locations on many films, Franco has maintained an astonishing workrate, and while the quality of his work has sometimes suffered because of this, films such as Virgin Amongst the Living dead, Eugenie, Succubus and She Killed in Ecstasy remain distinctive slices of 60s/70s art-trash.
Most of his films have been released in multiple versions with wildly differing titles, while Franco himself has directed under a bewildering number of pseudonyms. Actors who have regularly appeared in his films include Klaus Kinski, Christopher Lee and wife Lina Romay; fans should also look out for his name on the credits of Orson Welles' Chimes of Midnight, on which he worked as assistant director.