Today would have been Klaus Kinski’s 85th birthday if he were still alive. I’ve written birthday tributes to Klaus before but today I thought I’d share a little something about one of my favorite Klaus Kinski films, Jess Franco’s remarkable Venus in Furs aka Paroxismus (1969).
From the DVD box:
“Of all the twisted hits from cult director Jess Franco (SADOMANIA, 99 WOMEN), this is the one that fans and critics alike call his masterpiece! James Darren (THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, DEEP SPACE NINE) stars as a traumatized trumpeter sucked into a whirlpool of psycho-sexual horror along with his sultry girlfriend (singer Barbara McNair), a kinky lesbian (Margaret Lee of THE BLOODY JUDGE), a depraved playboy (the legendary Klaus Kinski) and the mysterious, insatiable beauty (luscious Maria Rohm of JUSTINE) who may lead them all straight to Hell.”
If that description doesn’t grab your attention, nothing will! As stated above, Kinski plays a wealthy sadist named Ahmed Kortobawi who’s obsessed with sexual pleasure that finally erupts in an act of bloody violence. After he participates in the kinky murder of a beautiful woman (Maria Rohm), Kinski and his cohorts (Dennis Price & Margaret Lee) are haunted by her ghost (or are they?). Franco’s incredibly sensuous and decadent film isn’t a straightforward horror movie but imaginative viewers should appreciate the supernatural elements of Venus in Furs. As Cathal Tohill & Pete Tombs explain in their book Immoral Tales, Franco was inspired to make his film after a conversation with jazz legend, Chet Baker. The acclaimed trumpet player discussed how getting lost in musical improvisation could create images in your head that explode in flashes of memory. Franco used this idea for the basis of his story and Venus in Furs unfolds in a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards that lend it a surreal quality accentuated by the fantastic nature of the film, the creative set design and the director’s ability to create awe-inspiring imagery. As usual Klaus Kinski manages to steal every scene he appears in and his final screen moments are unforgettable. The jazz infused score was composed by British beat artist Manfred Mann who also makes a brief appearance in the film as a musician. With its lengthy nightclub and party scenes, decadent fashions and groovy soundtrack, Venus in Furs is a film that begs for multiple viewings.
One of my favorite pieces on Franco’s Venus in Furs was written by Mike Kitchell and can be found on his blog, Esotika Erotica Psychotica. And for more on Jess Franco and his fabulous films please visit Robert Monell’s blog I’m in a Jess Franco State of Mind
You can expect to see more of Kinski @ Cinebeats soon!