Of the many devilish creations of cult filmmaker Jess Franco, Lorna, the Exorcist is among his most surreal, terrifying and yes, horny. The film itself has been a bit difficult to see over the years due to lack of film materials to scan, but Kino Cult – the newly minted sublabel from Kino Lorber – has put an end to that for US Franco fans. This new Blu-ray release, the first in the new Kino Cult line of titles comes with a pleasing 1080p presentation of the film and a nice collection of supplements that expand on this crazed cult film. This release comes Highly Recommended!
It should come as no surprise that when William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was released, it kicked off a wave of international cult films all marketed to take advantage of Friedkin’s well-regarded masterpiece. One of those many films being Jess Franco’s Lorna, the Exorcist. This work from Franco has both softcore and an Italian distributor who took the film and added hardcore inserts for their market after its initial release. This is important to note, as the actual presentation of the film on this Blu-ray is sourced partially from the Italian hardcore negative. Oh, and the film doesn’t have much to do with exorcists, but you bet it’s filled with naked, gyrating women all possessed by... something!
Lorna, the Exorcist tells the story of middle-aged businessman Patrick Mariel (Guy Delorme), his beautiful brunette bride Marianne (Jacqueline Laurent) and his young daughter Linda (Lina Romay). Before they take off for vacation, threatening phone calls start coming from a pansexual succubus named Lorna (Pamela Stanford). You see, Lorna and Patrick made a deal nineteen years earlier that has something to do with giving his nubile daughter to Lorna when she turns 18. Now, the family unit must contend with a succubus, and Linda’s sexual dreams about Lorna are not helping!
With a lot of Franco films, there’s a disparate-but-not-unrelated subplot around a doctor trying to cure a woman seemingly possessed by the devil. It’s the kind of subplot that could be chalked up as padding, though it really just adds to the languid pacing and dreamlike feel of Franco’s approach. To him, sexual fervor is all-encompassing and takes no prisoners.
All of the classic Franco hallmarks are here – slow zooms on female pubic regions, a fuzzy jazzed-out score, a cameo from Franco himself, and a lot of writhing female bodies. What’s different this time around is that it all works remarkably well thanks to Lina Romay’s arresting performance. For a low-budget film of this sort, special effects are minimal and the camera is always closely trained on the performer. And for Romay, she’s someone who knows how to use her body as a possessed weapon. Her gaping mouth and open private parts letting out the ultimate in female terror through demonic possession. Yes, this movie has a lot of nudity bordering on pornographic, but for Franco, this is absolutely one of his most damning statements on female empowerment and male weakness.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays
Lorna, the Exorcist possesses your collection with a one-disc Blu-ray release that comes in Kino’s standard blue case with o-card slipcover. The Blu-ray is a BD50 disc, and it boots up to a standard menu with options to play the film, select audio and subtitles, explore chapters and select bonus features.
For the uninitiated, Lorna, the Exorcist has had a couple physical media releases in the past. There was a 2011 DVD from Mondo Macabro sourced from three different film sources, then there was a 2018 Blu-ray release from Le Chat Qui Fume in France that used a French release print and the Italian hardcore negative to create Franco’s intended version. Both of those releases have their positives, though I’ll note here that the transfer used on Kino Cult’s new Blu-ray seems to be sourced from Le Chat Qui Fume’s 2018 release.
Lorna, the Exorcist arrives in a MPEG-4 AVC-encoded 1080p transfer from Kino Cult that is overall very pleasing, although there’s plenty of source damage to be found in certain sections. The source damage arrives in the form of vertical green lines running on the screen, though those sequences still have decent contrast and overall clarity despite the damage. For the rest of the film, though, terrific texture and detail is shown with a decent layer of film grain. Colors are stable and handled well by the encode. Black levels are solid despite the slightly compromised source used for the scan. I’m confident in stating this is the best the film has ever looked on Blu-ray, especially given the current film materials available to scan. I could only see a bigger upgrade if the original negative was used for the scan, but it’s currently lost.
Lorna, the Exorcist is presented here with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in French and an English dub using the same codec. The English dub is not the right way to watch the film, and it’s an especially awkward dub that doesn’t flow well with the characters. The French track, on the other hand, sounds much cleaner despite some minor spots of hiss to be found here and there. The soundtrack and dialogue are balanced well, with those big freak-out possession sequences sounding terrific.
Alright, time for some more good news! The supplements package here includes a brand-new commentary from novelist and critic Tim Lucas, plus an interview with Pamela Stanford that was not featured on either Mondo Macabro or Le Chat Qui Fume’s respective releases. The interview with Stephen Thrower looks to be a combination of the introduction and solo featurettes with Thrower from the Mondo release. In addition, there’s an interview with filmmaker Gérard Kikoïne about his editing experience on Franco’s films, as well as many great anecdotes about exploitation producer Robert de Nesle. This is a really great package of supplements to kick off the Kino Cult line with, so kudos to Kino!
Let the possessed mind, body and soul of Lina Romay expose you to all of the horrors offered by Lorna, the Exorcist. Jess Franco’s 1974 X-rated cult classic has finally made its way to Blu-ray in the US with the first-ever release from Kino Lorber’s Kino Cult sublabel. In addition to the pleasing transfer, there’s a great collection of supplements to enjoy. This release comes Highly Recommended!