Eurotika is a Channel 4 documentary film on European exploitation cinema. During the 1960s and 1970s, European low-budget films went kinky, emerging as a new type of cinema that blended eroticism, surrealism, horror, and over-the-top atmospherics. This series covers European exploitation cinema and sexploitation before the introduction of home video.
Virgins and Vampires: The Films of Jean Rollin
Virgins and Vampires takes a look at the life of Jean Rollin, a director best known for his sexy vampire flicks. Through interviews with Rollin, the film reveals a sensitive artist whose work, while reviled in his native France, was acclaimed throughout the United States and Britain.
The Diabolical Mr. Franco: The Films of Jess Franco
The Diablical Mr. Franco explores the life and times of Jess Franco, the creator of the first Spanish porn films. His more than 200 films include Vampyros Lesbos, about a mysterious countess who lures young women back to her castle, and Necronomicon, adapted from a medieval book on the occult. The film includes interviews with Monica Swinn, Jess Franco, Michel Lemoine, Daniel Lesoeur, and Nigel Wingrove.
Blood and Black Lace: A Short History of the Italian Horror Film
Blood and Black Lace focuses on Italian horror filmmakers Mario Bava, Dario Argento, and Lucio Fulci, whose baroque and bloody horror thrillers were also slick and stylish. The program features interviews with Erika Blanc, Orchidea de Santis, Daniela Giordano, Luigi Cozzi and Al Festa.
From Barcelona to Tunbridge Wells: The Films of Jose Larraz
From Barcelona to Tunbridge Wells looks at SpainÃ¢â¬â¢s sex and horror film master, Jose Larraz, who caused a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival with Symptoms. The film features interviews with Larraz, producer Brian Smedly-Aston, and former Benny Hill star Marianne Morris.
French Blue: Erotic Films of France
This episode focuses on the evolution of french “art” films. Between 1976 and 1983 ALPHA FRANCE Studios produced more than 150 French hardcore 35mm movies. Largely unavailable outside of France many of these movies have achieved cult classic status.
A Life In Four Chapters: The Films of Jose Benazeraf
A Life In Four Chapters is about the controversial French erotic filmmaker Jose Benazeraf, who, now in his 70s, continues to make erotica.
So Sweet, So Perverse: Women Of European Sexploitation
Profiling the films of Dagmar Lassander-Daniela Giordano-Karin Schubert-Ajita Wilson-Brigitte Lahaie-Orchidea de Santis-Lina Romay-Erika Blanc. Movies include: Pussy Talk, Femina Ridens, The Devil’s Nightmare, Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, Werewolf Woman, The Nude Princess etc.
Strange Behavior: Cult Films Of Eurocine Studios
Strange Behavior profiles a Paris-based, family-run production company named Eurocine. For nearly 50 years, Eurocine has been producing some of the most recognized low budget European flicks, including striptease movies and erotic crime thrillers.
Is There a Doctor in the House?: Medicine Gone Bad
Mad medics, sick surgeons & psychotic scientists are the theme of this episode. Film excepts from: Dr.Jekyll & The Werewolf, Murder In A Blue World, Female Vampire[Jess Franco], Night Of The Doomed, Devil’s Kiss, The Awful Dr.Orloff, Vampyros Lesbos, Faceless, I Am Frigid…Why? etc.
I am a Nymphomaniac: The Erotic Films of Max Pecas
I am a Nymphomaniac explores the classy erotic films of Max Pecas, a pioneering force in French sexploitation films who discovered the talents of Elke Sommer, Anne Libert, and Sandra Julien.
Blood and Sand: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Spanish Horror Films
Blood and Sand focuses on classic Spanish horror, which distinguished itself as gorier, grittier, and more down-to-earth than works being produced elsewhere in Europe. The film features interviews with horror star Paul Naschy as well as some of his female co-stars.
The Blood Beast: The Films of Michael Reeves
The Blood Beast looks at the films of British director Michael Reeves (Witchfinder General/The Conqueror Worm), who died under mysterious circumstances at age 26. Interviews include TV star Ian Ogilvy, who starred in all three of ReevesÃ¢â¬â¢s features; award winning author Iain Sinclair; and Paul Maslansky, who produced Reeves’s first film.
Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre (2000)
Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre attempts to address the injustice by bringing together filmmaker fans such as Tim Burton, Joe Dante and John Carpenter with film writers and scholars to review Bava’s rich legacy (and to simply gush over some of the most visually striking work that the horror genre has ever known). Bava, the son of a film effects technician, got an early start in films at the age of 14 as an assistant cameraman. Soon he was working the camera for some high-powered directors: Raoul Walsh, G.W. Pabst, Roberto Rossellini, and Jacques Tourneur. The documentary credits director Ricardo Freda and cinematographer Bava for coming up with the first Italian horror film (at least of the sound era) with the moody, neo-gothic Lust of the Vampire (aka I Vampiri; 1956). Bava finished directing the film for Freda, who reportedly couldn’t keep up with the grueling shooting schedule and argued with the producers. In the next several years Bava would finish two more films when the directors walked out: Caltiki, The Undying Monster (1959) and the sword and sandal epic Giant of Marathon (both released in 1959). Thus, a fascinating genre director was fashioned from a very talented cinematographer.
The documentary celebrates a unique filmmaking career and at the same time speculates about what might have been. AIP’s legendary Sam Arkoff invited Bava to come to the states, but Mario found the language barrier too daunting. One of those interviewed in the film wonders if he might have attained the status of an Alfred Hitchcock if he’d had the budgets of a “real” Hollywood director. Joe Dante (The Howling, 1981; Gremlins, 1984) also wonders, but ultimately is thankful for a body of work that perhaps could only have come from a leaner, but more richly imaginative, European environment.
More than one commentator remarks on the surreal, dreamlike quality of Bava’s work. Tim Burton (Batman, 1989; Sleepy Hollow, 1999; Corpse Bride, 2005) is the most adulatory: “He really captured film as dream.” Others point to Bava’s influence, some of it unacknowledged, on later, much more expensive projects. Friday the 13th (1980) plays very much like an American remake of Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve (aka Bay of Blood, 1971), and Ridley Scott’s Alien (1980) lifted the general look and feel, not to mention a whole sequence, from Planet of the Vampires (1965).
Behind all of the dark, macabre dreams was a gentle man with a good sense of humor. Composer Carlo Rustichelli describes Bava as the antithesis of his films, a joyful man. Grandson Fabrizio “Roy” Bava explains his grandfather’s choice of subject matter as a penchant for going against the grain: “too many people speak about love, so maybe I [Mario Bava] can put together love and death.” Perhaps most touchingly, biographer Tim Lucas relates that the night before filming a scene for Twitch of the Death Nerve involving a beetle pinned to a desk, Bava didn’t sleep a wink, because he didn’t want to take responsibility for the insect’s life.
Despite attempts like this TV documentary, the maestro remains overlooked and undervalued. He was a pioneer and an inventor, and many of his films featured graphic violence that was shocking for the time, but most of all he was a master stylist who knew how to light up the night to reveal surreal, nightmarish landscapes that have the power to haunt even today.