24 April 2015 | Michael_Elliott
The Re-Edited Exorcism
The Sadist of Notre Dame (1979)
** (out of 4)
Going through the filmmography of Jess Franco is never an easy thing because not only do you have to go through more than 200 movies but you've also got to go through countless alternate versions. Sometimes films can have four or five alternate versions with newly shot scenes, alternate footage or footage thrown in from another director. In 1974 Franco made a film called EXORCISM, which was a very dark mix of sex, religion and violence. It was also released in a softer version under the title DEMONIAC and another version with XXX footage called SEXORCISMS. Then, in 1979, Franco took footage from EXORCISM and added a new plot around them and the end result is this film, THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME.
This time out, our film starts off as we see what appears to be a homeless man (Jess Franco) and before long he kills a prostitute who comes onto him because she isn't "pure." This here kicks off the story as Franco then travels around killing women who he sees to be sinners.
I love the work of Jess Franco and if you are a fan of his then you know it's rather madness trying to watch his movies. As several experts say, you really haven't seen a Franco film until you've seen them all. Then, after you've seen them off, you've still got countless alternate versions to track down so it seems like being a Franco fan is a never-ending and up-hill battle.
THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME is a film that I really hated the first time I watched it but having revisited the movie I can tell that I was being a bit harsh earlier. I still prefer the original director's cut of EXORCISM and for the most part I think SEXORCISMS is even better but there are a few interesting moments here. I do think that the visual look of this film is better and yes, I understand that only 25-minutes of its 99-minute running time is "new" footage. I do think that the new scenes are good, are rather dark and there's a certain rawness about them.
I do wish that Franco had just created a new film but that wasn't the case. The majority of the footage here is from EXORCISM, although it has been re-dubbed to fit this movie. It's interesting to learn that Franco considered this to be his favorite version but I certainly wouldn't agree with him.