This film exploring erotic obsession is among the more famous and
respected of prolific Spanish director Jess (Jesus) Franco, who is also known for his
down for the count-ess
Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Ströemberg), works at the American branch
of her legal firm in Turkey. One night she sees a strip tease
act at a club (along with her boyfriend, Omar), and becomes transfixed ... the performer
resembles the woman she has been seeing in her dreams. Afterwards, she is assigned to take
care of the will of a mysterious countess who lives on one of the few Turkish islands left
from the Lausanne Treaty... Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda), who just happens to be the
object of Linda's fascination. Linda soon takes care of the countess' will in ways she
would have never imagined.
The Turkish components mainly serve as a backdrop.
For example, the sunny, Mediterranean settings serve as a reworking of vampire film
tradition, in contrast to the typical foggy Transylvanian-type atmosphere we
would normally be offered. Plenty of metaphors are offered, such as a kite and
with her ineffectual Turkish lover
There are only two Turkish characters, one
being Linda's boyfriend, Omar (Andrés Monales)... who is far from effective when
the time comes to rescue his damsel in distress. He is, basically, totally
incompetent as the hero... in the horror film arena, where the boyfriend can
generally be relied upon to save the girl. (Actually, it's always refreshing to go
against type, but too bad this had to happen in one of the very few Western films
where the Turk was presented in the traditional hero's role.)
As a matter of fact, the useless Omar... if
anything... serves as a model of psychological abuse (along with the psychiatrist he
takes Linda to). Linda ultimately takes control of her own situation, bypassing male
"assistance"... even if that means succumbing to the dark side. Whether a
clever Freudian notion is at work is anyone's guess... but very likely this is not
the sort of film to expect much depth from.
The only "horror" in the film is provided
by the other Turkish character, Mehmet (played by the director, Jess Franco; the name is
spelled as "Memmet" in the credits) ... who offers physical abuse, instead.
Mehmet is the bizarre porter at the hotel who happens to be the husband of one of the
countess' former victims, now locked up in the same institution Linda will visit... acting
as a kind of "Renfield."
Mehmet's bound victim
Early in the film, Mehmet corners
Linda and blabbers: "She went to the woman on the island – when she came back she
was crazy!" He means this as a warning, so he's not a completely bad guy. What Mehmet
means by "crazy" is that his wife "lost interest in men." Men
traditionally react with violence when faced with lesbians in vampire films, and Mehmet
does not disappoint; soon the Turk will kidnap and torture female victims to death in the
hotel's wine cellar.
VAMPYROS LESBOS doesn't treat its Turkish characters
too badly, as far as Turkish characters in Western films go. True, one goes to pieces and
can't handle the situation, and the other goes to pieces and tries to carve up pieces...
but it is a vampire film, and there is no real anti-Turkish maliciousness at work.