Let's get things straight right off the bat, Jess Franco is a hack. Don't let any deluded Francophiles tell you otherwise, the guy makes movies faster than I can take a dump and they are rarely as satisfying. But that said, he does sneak the occasional chestnut out there, not ever a classic by any means but sliding just into that so mind numbingly bad that it's actually quite fun. Mostly this is his movies that fall into the 'jerk off' category (you know, the thinly veiled Euro tosh that passes for wanking viewing for the lonely and desperate) but with 'Killer Barbys' Franco actually delivers some truly mindless fun!
'Killer Barbys' opens with a bewildering but very enticing prologue where some luckless guy trying to run screaming from a spooky castle encounters (SGM fave) Santiago Segura who slits his throat and slices off his ears for his dancing dwarf companions! Still with me? Well once the opening titles are out the way we get down to the meat of this latest Franco opus, basically what we have here is the plot for every episode of Scooby Doo plagiarised in a slapdash but fun enough manner.
Rock band 'Killer Barbies' are en route to the next venue of their tour when their van breaks down near an old spooky castle (familiar eh?) The fun punksters are met by a passing old crone who invites them to spend the night at said castle where in the morning he will call for some mechanic assistance (yeah right!) What the poor Killer Barbies don't realise (though they should if they've been watching Scooby and Shaggy in action) is that their doom is destined if they spend the night in said castle as it's main inhabitant is the slowly decomposing Countess Von Fledermaus who needs the blood of young men to rejuvenate her.
Cue lots of fun bloody mayhem as the rockers are targeted by the Countess and her entourage (the aforementioned Santiago Segura and his midget pals), all to the rocking background of some of the Killer Barbies kick ass tunes!
As I said, Jess Franco's movie output is on the main truly woeful but with 'Killer Barbys' he's actually delivered something that can be enjoyed with several beers and your brain switched off for the evening. Sure it's another Franco rush job (aren't they all) but with this one at least it does have some truly enjoyable merits.
On the plus side it has the great Santiago Segura, a man that can rarely do wrong in my eyes - sure it's not his best performance but what do you expect in a Franco movie. Also, another key thing that stopped me reaching for the stop button was the appearance of the truly excellent band Killer Barbies, folk will know my taste in music by now (if not, all I need say is the Misfits and you'll now where I'm coming from) and this was my first time hearing the Killer Barbies (shame on me) - what a truly great punk band (I was humming their tracks long after the movie finished).
On the down side, well Franco is Franco - less said the better, whilst the English dubbing on the movie is some of the worst I've heard since the glory days of bad dubbing in the eighties. Sure for some the dubious dubbing may ad to the trash viewing experience but it would have been nice to have had a subtitled option with the original dialogue also.
Whether or not Hard Gore should be congratulated for licensing some Franco for their catalogue is debatable but thankfully on this occasion it is bizarrely merited. Dare I say it but I actually enjoyed 'Killer Barbies', but more for the music and occasional bloody fun rather than the half assed movie itself.
The anamorphic widescreen image is (as you would expect from a recent low budget production) clean and solid throughout, likewise the audio is very sharp also so you can both enjoy Killer Barbies killer tunes and cringe at the woefully bad English dubbed dialogue. As for the extras, we get a short behind the scenes segment which is in fact some video footage shot on set of various folk larking around. There's also an image gallery and a text crime sheet of Franco's back catalogue (perhaps as a guide as to what to avoid).
Francophiles will probably hate this movie as it contains little of Franco's alleged Euro sensibilities but fans (like myself) of brainless bloody punk trash will be happy to grab a case of beer and kick back with the Killer Barbies. Bring on the Killer Barbies versus Dracula…
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Hard Gore|
|Region All - PAL|
|Trailers, Behind the scenes, Stills gallery|