Wednesday, July 2, 2014

EUROCINÉ 33 CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES - DVD REVIEW


Yes, you guessed it, that’s the Paris street address to Eurociné, a lovably awful, but equally daring French film studio which is usually the scorn of snobbish cineastes that, let’s be honest, probably haven’t seen more than two of their films.  While many of their productions were undoubtedly made on the cheap, Eurociné were responsible for a treasure trove of trashy exploitation films mostly in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, but they even managed to put together a few honest-to-goodness gems like The AWFUL DR. ORLOF (1962) directed by the iconoclastic Jess Franco, easily the most respectable name associated with Eurociné.  Subtitled “A French Exploitation Cinema”, Christopher Bier’s (directing under the suitably apt “Christopher M. Beer” in keeping with the pseudonymous nature of most Eurociné films) documentary is a highly entertaining look at this modest studio that, to this very day, still operate out of that very same address.

Mr. Bier serves as our host who proudly proclaims the films of Eurociné “are no less exotic to us than BREATHLESS and CHILDREN OF PARADISE.”  He goes on to provide a fairly thorough background history of Marius Lesoeur, the founder of Eurociné, which is nicely cut together with contemporary interviews featuring a number of directors, actors and writers that all worked for Mr. Lesoeur at one time or another.  Some of the interviews include Monica Swinn (her anecdotes regarding the various Nazi-themed films they churned out in the ‘70s are quite priceless), Roger Darton, Alain Deruelle (also known as Allan W. Steeve – the director behind such cut-and-paste non-classics as CANNIBAL TERROR [1980] and JAILHOUSE WARDRESS [1979]), Patrice Rhomm, Gilbert Roussel, writer and film historian Jean-Pierre Bouyxou and of course, Daniel Lesoeur, the current head honcho of this once prolific production house.
Christopher Bier, our host and director of EUROCINE 33 CHAMPS ELYSEES

Some of the highlights include a visit to their “studio” outside of Paris, which actually turns out to be nothing more than the Lesoeur’s holiday villa turned into a mini production house.  Anyone even remotely familiar with Eurociné’s output will instantly recognize many rooms within this house, which have turned up in the likes of Jean Rollin’s guilty pleasure ZOMBIE LAKE (1980) and Jess Franco’s appropriately dark and nasty EUGENIE DE SADE (1970).  In a surprise revelation and, to the astonishment of our host Mr. Bier, Mr. Lesoeur even unboxes Soledad Miranda’s knee high leather boots from that very same Franco film.


Of course, much of the fun also comes from the various clips utilized throughout the doc and, while there is no shortage of scenes from such Eurociné staples like Alain Payet’s HELLTRAIN (1976), Patrice Rhomm’s FRAULEIN DEVIL (1976), the aforementioned ZOMBIE LAKE (1980) and Jess Franco’s revamped and re-edited OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (1981), Mr. Bier has also included many tantalizing scenes from a variety of rarely seen titles such as Jess Franco’s early MARIQUITA, QUEEN OF THE TABARIN CLUB (1960), Gilbert Roussel’s RED HOT ZORRO (1972) and The GIRLS OF THE GOLDEN SALOON (1973), Pierre Chevalier’s The HOUSE OF LOST DOLLS (1973), Alain Payet’s HELGA, The SHE-WOLF OF SPILBERG (1977) and many others. 

This hour long documentary is unfortunately rather low on extras but the fact that it contains English subtitles more than makes up for it.  Although a very welcome extra is a rather extravagant poster gallery highlighting many works by poster artist Belinsky whose trashy “anything goes” artwork suited the Eurociné aesthetic to a tee.  By all means, order your copy here and check this out.  Vive la Eurociné!
Robert Foster (aka Antonio Mayans) in Eurocine's most financially successful and widely-seen film.
Christopher Bier (left) enters through the same door as Pierre Escourrou in ZOMBIE LAKE. 
Daniel Lesoeur (left) and Christopher Bier. 

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