Horror, Supernatural

Killer Barbys (1996)

Comments Off on Killer Barbys (1996) 17 October 2017

KillerBarbys

Studio: Redemption

Theatrical Release: May 22, 1996 (Spain)

Blu Ray Release: September 26, 2017

Director: Jess Franco

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

Redemption and Kino Lorber has just released one of Jess Franco’s later films, Killer Barbys onto glorious HD. Having reviewed several Franco titles on Unrated, we have yet to watch anything post 1990 so I was curious to see how the older, possibly more mature director would handle an “old dark house” type movie. 

The Spanish punk band Killer Barbies lead by front woman Flavia (played by Silvia Superstar from Cannibal Massacre) has just finished a late night gig. She and her bandmates pile into a van as they swear, screw, and take drugs while they travel through the night to get to their next show. Along the way their van breaks down, stranding them all in the middle of the woods. The group see what they think is a stranded castle on top of a hill where they decide to take refugee. 

Greeting the group is the servant Arkan (Aldo Sambrell from For a Few Dollars More) who tells the rock group that the Countess that he works for would welcome Flavia and her group into the home while he makes a few calls to have their van repaired. Little does the group know the Countess (Mariangela Giordano from Burial Ground) is a 100 year old vampire who retains her youth by drinking the blood of the young. She’s been kept alive by Arkan and his Renfield-type sub-servant Baltasar (Santiago Segura from Beyond Re-Animator) who with the help of two dwarfs, kill those they come across and bring the bodies to Arkan. 

In true Franco form, the Countess is also a nympho who upon meeting the group, pulls out one of her elderly Spanish ta ta’s and makes one of the men grope her (“My breasts are real!”) before she takes him into her room where she bangs his brains out and quickly stabs him repeatedly, bathing in his blood. 

Also in true Franco form, Killer Barbys (the title was changed due to Mattel threatening to sue) is loaded with long takes, slow pacing, poor framing and composition, and cheap production value. Clocking in at only 90 minutes, Killer Barbys could have been a more entertaining short film, maybe a Tales From the Crypt-type segment in a longer anthology. It’s easy to be overly dismissive of Franco’s films as he isn’t a bad director as he is maybe too easy going? He cranked out more movies than a normal human passes gas within a week. And like most farts, they mostly stink. But I have always admired the man for his hard work at churning out film after film, loading each one with explicit sex and violence that would make a 12 year old boy smile. 

Killer Barbys is not his worst film by any means. I liked some of the music that is performed during the movie, although overplayed. I loved the weird Baltasar and his two midget friends who offers the tiny duo severed ears while having no problem masturbating in front of them. Anytime Baltasar is on screen the movie picks up and at least becomes interesting and weird. I also admire the strong sex scene with the then 59 year old Giordano, whose brave enough to show off her naked body without fear and trepidation. In fact, she’s much more gorgeous than most younger women working in films now. 

Now for the blu ray transfer: Franco’s constant use of the fog machine and what looks like a soft focus filter, causes the movie not to look very good. I don’t think it’s the transfer, most likely it has and will always look sub-par. There is some speckling and print damage here and there as well. The film also looks overly grainy so I wonder what type of film stock was used as the picture just doesn’t look clear to me at all, with colors often muted. The DTS 2.0 soundtrack seems ok but I also noticed at times the sound effects and music seem to be louder than the actual dialog. I guess it doesn’t matter being that the film is subtitled. The only special feature on the blu ray is an audio commentary track by film historian Troy Howarth which is a great listen, going through Franco’s career (Franco acted in adult films?) and the history behind the making of the film. Even Howarth admits Killer Barbys is not a very good film. 

Listen, if you like or appreciate Jess Franco you may want to check out this odd, gothic comic-book. It’s rather bizarre seeing a Franco film loaded with punk music. But if you are not a fan or have never heard of the man, Killer Barbys will not win you over. 

Movie Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

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