The Merits of Sin: Killer Barbys (1996) (Spain)

An injured man flees from a castle into the fog shrouded night, an older gentleman with a crossbow follows behind and gives chase and the rotting corpse of a female seems to be watching all of this from an upstairs bedroom window. The bloodied man evades the elderly man but is soon grabbed by some hobo looking man and has his throat slit. And then the most Jess Franco thing outside of an unnecessary zoom happens… we cut to a club where folks are dancing and a live act is entertaining. It’s 96 and Uncle Jess is still that same psychopath he’s always been.

Franco is magic

The band in question is The Killer Barbies (like anyone from Mattel double checked) and they sound like a mixture of No Doubt and cigarette stains. The older gentleman from the opening scene is also at the club, watching from the back and obviously plotting.

I love to rock and/or roll, fellow youths

The man’s name is Arkan, the barely living corpse in the bedroom is Countess Von Fledermaus and The Killer Barbies have exactly what the Countess needs. Ya see, her and her secretary/lover Arkan have figured out the key to eternal life and I quote: “To drink the hot blood of the young people!” Well this band is young and I’m sure their blood is hot as hell. So, on their way to the next gig in a shitty minivan, The Killer Barbies almost hit a stalled steamroller and get their tire stuck in the mud. Luckily, a helpful Arkan appears and offers to put them up for the night. Three of the band members agree but the drummer Billy and Sharon (who I believe has the responsibility of dancing in her underwear during performances) decide to spend the night in the van and bang till dawn. So that’s three in the castle including vocalist Flavia, her boyfriend/guitarist Rafa and Mario who I’m sure does something besides being a virgin and two having a very intense grind session in the tour van. There’s also Arkan showing the brain dead dips around, the Countess in the bedroom slowly regenerating as she consumes blood, the creepy hobo halfwit servant and two midgets he calls “the children” creeping around the property and behaving like morons. There’s also a legend about a satanic monk and love, an actress from the 1920s who bears a shocking resemblance to the Countess and talk of a blood & semen potion. I’m mentioning all of this here because even though the ideas are interesting, in pure Franco fashion, they’re barely explored.

Drop it, it’s fine

Flavia and Mario are suspicious of Arkan but can’t seem to get Rafa to give a shit. The two band mates in the bone zone are attacked which leads to a butt naked Sharon fleeing from her attackers in nothing but go-go boots. She eventually gets beheaded by a scythe and Mario gets his throat slit. Time kind of gives up and nobody really notices anything. Finally restored from the hot young blood, the Countess joins her guests. In a beautiful casting choice, Mariangela Giordano (Burial Ground) plays the Countess. Giordano still radiates electric sex on the eve of 60 and makes for one convincing centuries old vampiric sexbomb. At least, before the dialogue hits but everyone loses any believability when the wretched dialogue is delivered in this so we’ll just let that be.

Why hello

The Countess wastes no time and takes Rafa to bed leaving a pissed off Flavia slack jawed and angry. Rafa doesn’t last long and the ageless fiend writhes around in his blood, making what sounds like a mixture growling and moaning. Flavia begins snooping around the castle in her underwear and we eventually come to the climax which involves the burnt homeless man getting run over by a steamroller and the Countess being tossed from her bedroom window. Thanks Jess.

Creepin and peepin

Somewhere between a dream that unsettles due to boredom and a hazy heroin plagued recollection of Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, Jess Franco’s flick vibrates in an eternal loop. Loose threads dangle in the wind, just out of reach and our eyes a constantly being forced to focus on some mundane idiocy as opposed the almost touchable excitement. It’s so damn Franco it hurts. 6/10


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