Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Daughters of Lesbos (1968)

I wrote about a movie called Chained Girls (1965) a little while ago. What I may not have mentioned is that it came to me as part of a double feature DVD released by Something Weird Video.  Those who know me, know that I love Something Weird Video, and I have many of their double and triple feature DVDs in my Home Drive-In library. I even have a few old VHS tapes that they put out before DVDs came along. I mainly rented back in those days, because purchasing was expensive, but every now and then I got lucky. What I’m working my way around to saying, is that the second feature on the Chained Girls DVD is a pretty obscure little movie called Daughters of Lesbos (1968).

Daughters of Lesbos is an almost perfect match for Chained Girls as both are politically incorrect 1960s exploitation movies about lesbians. I don’t normally seek out movies about lesbians (although I don’t avoid them, either), but as you may have gathered from my opening paragraph, I will buy (or rent) just about any double or triple feature DVD from Something Weird Video. One thing I love about double and triple features is that if the first movie sucks, then the next one might be better. And vice-versa. But even if they all suck, I somehow feel like I got a better deal buying three bad movies than if I had only bought one. And I believe that a collection which includes EVERYTHING by Herschell Gordon Lewis has more intrinsic value than one with just a few of his best films. But perhaps this is merely revealing a flaw in my character…

I knew nothing about Daughters of Lesbos before getting my hands on this DVD. I also knew nothing about its director, Peter Woodcock (sounds suspiciously like a pseudonym for a guy who only made three movies in his entire career – all of them sexploitation films). Most of the actors are fairly unknown to me as well, although Geri Miller (credited as Dominique in this film) was in 17 things, including Andy Warhol’s Flesh (1968) and The Wall of Flesh (1968) by Joe Sarno. She was also in Andy Warhol’s Trash (1970) and Andy Warhol’s Women in Revolt (1971). Her final appearance seems to have been in Blade (1973), a cop movie that’s sort of like a North American giallo. 

Linda Boyce was in 40 movies, mostly sexploitation, including all three of Peter Woodcock’s trashterpieces. Uta Erickson was in 41 films, including several by the legendary team of Michael and Roberta Findley and Love Toy (1971) by Doris Wishman. Uta Erickson was the only name attached to Daughters of Lesbos that I kinda, sorta recognized. 

Would I have sought out and watched Daughters of Lesbos if it hadn’t been part of a Something Weird Video set? Probably not. But that’s another benefit of buying a set of films that includes unfamiliar titles. It’s a lot like channel surfing late at night in the 1980s and ’90s. You never knew what you might stumble upon, and I discovered some real gems that way. A lot of those gems were films I never would have chosen to watch if I’d had unlimited options, like on a current day streaming service. Too much choice can be worse than no choice in my opinoiin.

Daughters of Lesbos turned out to be a pretty entertaining 64 minutes of beautifully lit black and white cinematography. The use of light and shadows was stunning in places, and one has to wonder if it was all by design, or simply a product a low budget, limited time and luck. Either way, it’s pretty easy on the eyes. Story-wise, it’s almost like an anthology. Each member of the “Daughters of Lesbos” tells a story about something that happened to her in the past – and more than one involves being raped, or otherwise mistreated by a man. In the end (SPOILER ALERT) they randomly choose one member of their group to exact revenge upon one of the rapists.

It’s pretty simple, and the climactic scene comes really late in the proceedings, but let’s face it – watching a movie like Daughters of Lesbos isn’t about the final destination, it’s about the scenery along the way. And this movie provides plenty eye candy for those with an appreciation for soft core sleaze from another era. The music is great, and the female narrator really elevates the proceedings to an almost poetic, surreal level. One of my Twitter friends (hello Peter!) mentioned that he “got a nuance of Silvia Plath” from it. He also made a great montage that highlights some of the other things I’ve been talking about. You can see it on Twitter.

Sometimes campy, never boring, and, most importantly, at 64 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you enjoy this kind of 1960s art-house exploitation, then Daughters of Lesbos (1968) will likely keep you sufficiently diverted for a little over an hour. If, on the other hand, you are easily offended by outdated, politically incorrect material that purports to provide a glimpse into the secret world of lesbians, then you might want to steer clear of this one (and even more so the main feature, Chained Girls). But I think we can all agree that they don’t make this kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema anymore, and it’s probably best enjoyed alone, or with a like-minded friend, on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Demoniacs (1974)

The consensus among my friends and acquaintances seems to be that The Demoniacs (1974), or Les Demoniaques (1974), is not Jean Rollin’s best film. I have to agree with that. I would much rather watch The Grapes of Death (1978), The Living Dead Girl (1982) or Requiem for a Vampire (1972), which I just saw for the first time a few months ago. Still, The Demoniacs is notable for a few things.

It was apparently Rollin’s first film with a larger budget. It was a France-Belgium co-production, and was shot on the Island of Chausey in Normandy. It has been called Rollin’s most “atypical film” and I can see why. Instead of the crumbling castles and graveyards of previous films like Requiem for a Vampire and The Iron Rose (1973), The Demoniacs spends a lot of time on the beach, and inside the remains of a wrecked ship. Rollin talked about his desire to make a movie that related to the swashbuckling adventure films of his youth, and with The Demoniacs he has created a story about pirates, or “wreckers”, who lure ships to their destruction on the rocks and then pillage them. The wreckers also gleefully murder any survivors, and in the case of the two sisters at the centre of The Demoniacs, they rape them and leave them for dead. Being a horror film, of sorts. the sisters survive and make a deal with the devil to get their revenge on the wreckers.

You could say that The Demoniacs is more of an unusual rape revenge film than a horror story. There are some weird, surrealistic and perhaps supernatural touches (it wouldn’t be a Jean Rollin film without them, would it?), but it isn’t about vampires or living dead girls – or is it? I must admit that I’m not 100% clear on all of the details. And as with a lot of Rollin films, it’s hard to decide exactly what kind of film it is. In a lot of ways, Jean Rollin is his own genre. Nobody makes movies quite like he does, and I believe that his films are not for everyone. I like to call his style art-house exploitation. Explicit and sleazy, but somehow classy and artistic at the same time. Rollin’s are not the only films to which I might apply this label, but I consider them to be perfect examples. They contain a lot of nudity and sex, and the word “porn” sometimes gets bandied about, but films like The Demoniacs are not porn. To be fair, Rollin did direct some actual hard core porn movies, but The Demoniacs is not one of them. A viewer who goes in expecting it to be porn will discover that it is decidedly soft core. There are a couple of deleted sex scenes on the Kino-Lorber Blu-ray, and if there had been any doubt, these scenes make it clear just how “soft” things really were…

Joëlle Coeur as Tina, one of the wreckers in The Demoniacs (1974)

I think most people would agree that the true highlight of The Demoniacs (1974) is the performance of Joëlle Coeur. She does not play one of two shipwrecked sisters, but rather one of the pirates, or wreckers, and she seems to take particular pleasure in molesting and murdering other characters. She also spends a lot of time naked. Coeur had an all too brief career as an actress, appearing in about twenty movies between 1972 and 1976, including I Am Frigid… Why? (1972), Schoolgirl Hitchhikers (1973) and Seven Women for Satan (1976). Exploitation film fans lost a potential superstar when Joëlle Coeur hung up her… um…  hat.

Poster art for I Am Frigid... Why? (1972)Poster art for Seven Women for Satan (1976)

Jean Rollin’s films are not for everyone, and The Demoniacs (1974) is a Jean Rollin film that isn’t for every Jean Rollin fan. I will probably never watch it as often as some of his other films, but I believe that it contains enough of his signature touch, as well as other #NotQuiteClassicCinema goodness, to make for a very pleasant #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Naked Vengeance (1985)

I rented Naked Vengeance (1985) on VHS sometime in the late ’80s. My video store had two different tapes to choose from: one R-rated, and one unrated. I knew enough to know that unrated meant better, or perhaps more: more nudity, more violence, more of everything that made my friends and I rent a movie. You could usually see that the running time was longer on the back of the unrated box than on the R-rated one. There were a few noted exceptions, but in this case the unrated tape was clearly the way to go.

Aside from horror films, I was also a big fan of of any kind of vigilante or revenge movie. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my school was lousy with gangs of thugs who liked to terrorize anyone who got marks higher than a ‘C’. I had previously enjoyed such titles as Death Wish (1974), Death Wish II (1982) and Savage Streets (1984).

I don’t think I had ever heard the term “rape-revenge” or “rape-revenge movie” at that time. But a lot of these movies (including the three I just mentioned) involved a rape, which would then lead to some form of revenge (or at least random vigilanteism). I had seen the most notorious movie of this type, which was of course  I Spit On Your Grave (1978). Its reputation had preceded it. I knew Roger Ebert had called it a “vile bag of garbage” and one of the worst films ever made. But he also gave Death Wish II no stars and said: “I award “no stars” only to movies that are artistically inept and morally repugnant. So Death Wish II joins such unsavory company as Penitentiary II and I Spit on Your Grave.”

I happened to love Death Wish II. It was certainly the most violent movie I had ever seen when I was 12, but it was also tense and exciting. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat and sweating as I watched the climactic sequence. Incidentally, I screened it for a friend years later, when we were well into our twenties, and I watched him having the same physical reaction during that sequence. It made me smile.

So, Roger Ebert’s condemnation of I Spit On Your Grave was not a deterrent to me. And the cover of the VHS box was irresistible. “This woman has just cut, chopped, broken and burned five men beyond recognition… but no jury in America would ever convict her!”


Truth be told, I was disappointed in I Spit On Your Grave the first time I saw it – and not just because she only kills four men – not five like the box claimed. I think I had expected something closer to Death Wish II or Savage Streets, but I Spit On Your Grave was way more rape than revenge. Way more. That’s not to say there weren’t some good moments once the revenge part got going, but I guess it was too little, too late for me at the time. I have since re-evaluated it (with the help of a director’s commentary and Joe Bob Briggs) and I appreciate it more now than I did back then. But that’s another story.

When I first saw Naked Vengeance (1985) I was shocked to discover that it was almost the exact same movie as I Spit On Your Grave – woman from the big city goes to a small town / rural area to be alone. She gets gang raped by a group of assholes and then kills them all in creatively violent ways. But Naked Vengeance, it seemed to me at the time, was better than I Spit On Your Grave. It was the movie that I Spit On Your Grave should have been. Naked Vengeance spends way more time on the revenge than on the rape. And it does it well, with energy and forward movement. I Spit On Your Grave seemed to move at a snail’s pace to my younger self. And it wasn’t fun. Naked Vengeance manages to be fun, as well as shocking, violent, suspenseful and all that good stuff.

Now, I know there are people out there who love I Spit On Your Grave. And as I said, I appreciate it way more now than I did back then. I have a nice edition of it in my home drive-in library. But for years I remembered Naked Vengeance even more fondly and wanted to add it to my library. Unfortunately, I never found a copy of the unrated edition on VHS after it disappeared from my video store. And I never found it on DVD. It seemed to literally vanish, perhaps eclipsed by better known movies like the ones I’ve mentioned. Thankfully that has all changed thanks to the new Shout Factory / Scream Factory double feature Blu-ray (which also includes Vendetta (1986), another personal favourite of mine.

Naked Vengeance was directed by Cirio H. Santiago, who made about a hundred movies, including Savage! (1973), Vampire Hookers (1978), and She Devils in Chains AKA Ebony, Ivory & Jade (1976). I used to see his name frequently in the credits of movies I would rent or purchase. They weren’t all great. Some of them were slow and tedious. So his hame was not a guarantee of excellence to my younger, movie watching self. But this one I thought was one of his best. I’m also a huge fan of TNT Jackson (1974), but that’s another story. 

Naked Vengeance (1985) lived up to my fond memories, and I believe it is more than just nostalgia. I will be watching it again on some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. It is a a #Certified #NotQuiteClassicCinema favourite!