Thursday 30 November 2023

Hot Nights of Linda (1975)

Hot Nights of Linda is a steamy sexually overheated 1975 offering from Jess Franco.

Marie-France (Alice Arno) takes a job looking after the two daughters of a wealthy recluse, writer Paul Radeck (Paul Muller). He’s a writer, so he is therefore a man who deals in fictions. His daughter Linda is an invalid and never speaks. The other daughter is Olivia (Lina Romay). She’s actually his niece and adopted daughter.

There’s a disturbing atmosphere in the luxurious modernist ocean-front Radeck villa (a typical Jess Franco location which the director utilises with his customary flair for getting the best use out of a location). Radeck is a troubled man. He does not seem to have recovered from the death of his wife. It’s not clear why Linda is an invalid but Marie-France does suspect that the problem might be psychosomatic.

Olivia is a strange girl. No-one played sexually obsessed mad girls better than Lina Romay so she’s perfectly cast. Olivia confides in Marie-France, up to a point. Olivia is troubled by a nightmare. It’s the same nightmare every night. It’s a sexual fantasy nightmare. What she doesn’t tell Marie-France is that she remembers seeing a murder. But of course Olivia is mad, so we can’t be sure if this is a genuine memory or a distorted memory, or a delusion or part of a twisted sexual fantasy.

Olivia is a virgin. She masturbates constantly. She clearly has some sexual issues and equally clearly these are a major factor in her madness.

The Radeck villa is under surveillance by a sleazy cop and a young female photo-journalist (played by Catherine Lafferier). Apparently Paul Radeck is suspected of killing his wife. The detective and the photo-journalist take lots of photos, mostly nude photos of female members of the Radeck household, so there’s a definite voyeurism theme here.

Things get crazier. The three members of the Radeck family may all be mad, but they’re not necessarily all mad. And if they’re all mad they’re mad in different ways, although we can’t help feeling that in all three cases there’s a sexual basis to the madness.

Eurocult movies of this era often exist in several different cuts often with different titles. It can be bewildering and that’s especially the case with this movie. Franco claimed that at least ten different cuts of this movie (with ten different titles!) were in circulation at various times, some of which featured hardcore footage.

My main problem with this movie is the ending, which I hated. But according to Lina Romay this was not the ending they originally shot or intended. The ending of the English-dubbed version on the Severin Blu-Ray was added later by the producers and was totally contrary to Jess Franco’s intentions.

The existence of multiple cuts frustrates some eurocult fans but in a weird postmodern way it’s kind of cool. In those case where more than one cut survives you can watch very different versions of the same movie and choose the one you like.

What makes this movie fascinating is that there are at least three different versions that were shot by, and approved by, Franco. Including the hardcore cut in which Lina appears. And some of these versions have totally different endings, which is very postmodern.

There’s plenty of eroticism, all of it unhealthy.

Hot Nights of Linda
is a Jess Franco movie that gets a bit overlooked, largely because it was made at a time when he was making so many movies, and so many of those movies are considered Franco classics. Hot Nights of Linda is however important in being a movie Franco conceived entirely as a starring vehicle for Lina Romay. She’s in top form and she owns this movie completely. Maybe not among the very best Franco movies but very much worth seeing, and highly recommended.

Severin have released this movie in a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack. The transfer allegedly comes from a 35mm print discovered in a Barcelona bordello, which is just such a wonderfully Jess Franco thing that one would like to believe it’s true. The combo pack also includes the French hardcore version on a separate disc.

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