Friday, February 24, 2012

R.I.P. Lina Romay.

One of my favorite memories of the cinema came in 2009 at Fantastic Fest. I went to a screening of Jess Franco's 1973 film "Bare Breasted Countess" (Female Vampire) starring Lina Romay as a sensual murderous vampire. Franco is in it as well as a doctor trying to stop her. Both Franco and Romay (long-time husband and wife) were in attendance. It was filmed when she was only 20 years old, and she admitted before the screening that she did not feel comfortable watching her films. She also noted, along with Franco, that it was this film that was the catalyst for them falling in love. As the movie began, Miss Romay left the auditorium, but Franco stayed for a bit. When the film approached the end Lina helped Jess back into the theater for the Q & A. While the finale played out on screen I noticed the two of them staring up at the images together. Lina’s vampire was sprawled out naked in a bath of blood, while Franco’s doctor bursts through the door with intentions of killing her. It was the first time in the film that the Doc had seen the Countess, and his urge to kill was quickly snuffed out by her incredible beauty. So there it was, the two of them 40 years on, watching their younger selves falling in love on the screen. It was truly a moving moment and it reminded me of what Lars, the host, stated at the beginning of the series. He read a quote by Franco that appeared in an Austin Chronicle interview the week of the festival: “The cinema is not the way to escape our lives; it is the way to complete our lives.” I think about that quote and that screening often. R.I.P. Lina Romay.

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