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Succubus (1969) – DVD Review

Succubus cover art


Written by: Pier A. Caminnecci
Directed by: Jess Franco
Starring: Michel Lemoine, Janine Reynaud, Jack Taylor, Howard Vernon, Adrian Hoven


  1. From Necronomicon to Succubus – Interview with Director Jess Franco
  2. Back in Berlin – Interview with Star Jack Taylor

Released by: Blue Underground
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Only if you need to confuse the cat.

Lorna Green is the toast of the decadent international jet set as the star of a sadomasochistic cabaret. She is an object of icy desire that men and women want to experience. But her stage life is bleeding into her real life. Her dreams are filled with games of madness and murder. The borders between dreams and reality are breaking down. Her manager/lover William may be helping taking down the bricks for some nefarious purpose. So is Lorna a pawn or is she really the Queen?

So here we have a movie with a decadence air of sexiness, strange imagery and symbolism and a plot that is about as linear as a corkscrew. It is stereotypically European. A lot of people will avoid it for that and that’s understandable. This type of non-traditional filmmaking is not for everyone. It also doesn’t help that Jess Franco allows himself to blend dream, philosophy, and sex with wild abandon and with no consideration for the audience. Now I’m not saying a director should spoon-feed the movie experience, but neither should the audience need to have a Masters in Liberal Arts. Now I looked at several of Franco’s later films and I can see some themes in these movies, especially the breaking of taboos and the pleasure and danger of doing so. But Franco has inundated us with his own personal symbolism and he doesn’t leave a Rosetta Stone to help us translate the themes. I’m not ever going to try to guess why Franco has a midget and a drag queen at a party. It’s hard to tell if the acting is good since I wasn’t sure what was going on half the time. Succubus is only for hardcore fans of the surrealistic school of film.

There are two features on the disc, an interview with the director Jess Franco and another interview with star Jack Taylor. Franco gives a good rundown of the process making the film. The inspiration was supposedly from his reading of the Necronomicon, which I find doubtful since the movie has no tentacles whatsoever. Franco freely admits he ran rampant while making the film and is honest about he wanted to break boundaries. The other interview with Taylor is short but he takes us on a quick tour of locations in Berlin from the movie and how much they’ve changed. While the interviews add some context to the film, only pick up Succubus if you have a serious need for surrealism

Succubus screen capture
The first draft of Mannequin 2 was a lot different from what eventually hit cinemas.

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