Devil’s Island Lovers (Jesús Franco, 1974)

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Upon hearing a dictator’s deathbed confession, a lawyer discovers that the young couple convicted of murder were in fact framed for the crime. The lawyer travels to the prison in hope of discovering the truth behind the cover-up and attempts to exonerate the two lovers through interviewing the prisoner who aided in their escape attempt. The film essentially takes place in two areas of the island where the couple are segregated and as a result aren’t aware that the other’s execution sentence has been commuted to a life sentence (hard labor). Franco mainstay Howard Vernon (A Virgin Among the Living Dead, French Sex Murders) shows his ugly mug as one of the Prison head honchos… he yells a bunch and then pretty much disappears.

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Devil’s Island Lovers is a pretty tame entry by Franco standards. In fact, save for a very brief nip-slip or two there’s not even a lick of nudity in the entire film. Suffice it to say, one’s hopes for some hardcore girl on girl prison violence are in vain. Despite ample opportunity on the female side, Franco manages to resist the urge to have the incarcerated ladies tear each other’s clothes off and lap at the exposed nubile flesh like cows on a salt lick. This is terribly unfortunate and makes one wonder if there’s a more interesting cut of the film hidden in someone’s sock drawer. The film seems to be competently edited so this particular release does in fact appear to be free from the trauma of the censor’s scissors, and Franco felt the need to throw in the obligatory corrupt prison wardens who continually exploit certain favorite female convicts to do their carnal bidding. Sadly, most of this takes place off camera. Equally disappointing, and this is common with women in prison type films, is the lack of slutty shoes for the ladies. Now, I know for a fact that the likelihood of rehabilitation in the women’s prison system rises exponentially with the introduction of sleazy heels and attractive jailed ladies situationally forced to accept their fate and dive headlong into the wonderful world of dirty girl-love. Evidently in 1974-era Spain they took the blue burlap sack and bare feet approach. Despite Franco’s well known affinity for the zoom lens, there are no worthwhile shots of the feet of the ladies in question… if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Oh and the dudes get to break rocks and shit.

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Surprisingly, this isn’t one of Franco’s worst (not by a long shot). The story moves along at a decent pace and is engaging enough to not bore the viewer – this could have been partially due to the anticipation of when the sleaze was going to hit the screen… and that could prove detrimental with repeated viewings.

 
The verdict on Devil’s Island Lovers: Franco completists will need it, and Franco beginners should avoid it until they have some of his really good films under their collective belts (Bloody Moon, Faceless and Vampyros Lesbos are essential).

 

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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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