Spanish Horror Director Jess Franco Dies

Cult Spanish film director Jess Franco has died at the age of 82 after suffering a stroke.

The maverick movie man was active right until the end, with his latest picture, Al Pereira vs the Alligator Ladies, opening in Spain just a few weeks ago.

Jesus "Jess" Franco made between 180 and 200 films over his long career (the exact number is subject to debate thanks to the huge amount of pseudonyms he used), the best known being 1970's Count Dracula (with Christopher Lee), Vampyros Lesbos, The Blood Of Fu Manchu, The Awful Dr Orloff and Venus in Furs (not Venus In Mars as the Radio Times has it on their website!) - plus three horror films which were branded video nasties in Britain in the 1980s: Devil Hunter, Bloody Moon and Women Behind Bars.

His wife Lina Romay, the star of many of his films, died just last February, aged 57.

We won't pretend that Jess Franco was a particularly good director - we've sat through way too many of his technically inept and agonisingly tedious features to claim that - but many of his films had a certain charm, with their dreamlike narrative, unique cinematography and heady eroticism. Indeed, Sir Christopher Lee has frequently said that Franco was vastly underrated, and would have created better and more successful films had he been given the resources to do so.

While we're not dead certain that's the case, we think the film world is a little poorer without one of its most distinctive and free-speaking talents.

Got a favourite Franco film? Or any moments in Franco films that particularly stand out...? Feel free to tell us.

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.