Plot: Vogel (Jess Franco) was once a priest, but these days, he just wanders Paris and mutters to himself, while holding others in contempt for sinful actions. He isn’t content to be silent in his judgment either, as he turns a blade on the women he deems improper or impure. This bleak view of women leads him to target prostitutes for the most part and while he often confesses his sins, he seems to have no intention of putting an end to his violent spree. As Vogel continues to stalk the streets, he is also being stalked, as a police inspector (Olivier Mathot) is hot on his trail and determined to bring down the depraved killer.
Entertainment Value: While The Sadist of Notre Dame is a remix of sorts, using newly filmed content blended with existing material from Exorcism, this feels like a fresh, new vision more than a simple retool. Jess Franco handles the lead role himself and dials up his creepiness to high levels, so he makes for an effective, kind of Peter Lorre inspired sleaze slayer. The movie has a lot of scenes of Franco just walking around, but his best moments are when he interacts with others, as the encounters come off as awkward and hilarious to watch. The narrative is passable, centered on a coherent enough tale of a detective in pursuit of a killer, but while that core element makes sense, most of the movie is much less rational. But this is Jess Franco, so do you really want a simple, to the point narrative that doesn’t veer into surreal or bizarre realms? The tone is bleak and while there is violence and sleaze, the real draw here is the unsettling atmosphere and Franco’s offbeat performance. For fans of the prolific genre master, this one is a must to have in your collection, but I think anyone who appreciates outside the box cinema will find a lot to like here.
This one has frequent naked flesh, with full female nudity on showcase, including vivid full frontal scenes. Not as graphic as some of Franco’s work, but still a good amount of sleaze to go around here. This includes swinger’s parties, creepy bedside lamentations from Vogel, film goddess Lina Romay in all of her glory, and to keep things fair, some male nudity is thrown in as well, during the group sex. I also appreciated the scene where a man went to great lengths to kept his legs angled just so, to ensure we never glimpse his manhood. Some violence unfolds here but it is mostly non graphic and while I do love bloodshed, it is never an issue, as the odd atmosphere and wild performances more than compensate entertainment-wise. But some splashes of crimson can be seen, so it is by no means bloodless. The dialogue is fantastic at times, with some absurd and almost random lines that have to be heard to be believed. A personal favorite of mine is when, in the middle of a desperate hunt for a serial killer, we listen in on a woman’s report of canine based crime. A number of wild, nonsensical lines and some hilarious encounters with Vogel, who never fails to entertain. On the craziness scale, this one has a lot of weird, inexplicable moments, oddball conversations, and a general texture of strangeness, so it is quite the odd duck.
Overall Insanity: 7/10