Oxford is Britain's second-busiest film location. Yet, while the city's landmarks frequently stands in for places from all periods and provide the idyllic setting for salad day sequences in pictures across the generic range, they have always tended to play bit parts rather than leading roles. However, local film-maker Philip Hind has made Oxford's oldest cinema the star of his compelling documentary, The Ultimate Survivor, which is now available on DVD after premiering during the venue's centenary celebrations last month.

On 24 February 1911, the Picture Palace screen flickered into life for the first time. The specially invited audience that Friday watched cowboy star Broncho Billy Anderson in The Bad Man and the Preacher (1910), which was also seen by the paying public the following day.

Frank Stuart, the original owner of the Picture Palace, was the landlord of the adjoining Elm Tree public house. However, the part-time impresario clearly had aspirations to become a movie mogul, as this was his third cinema in Oxford, after the East Oxford Theatre at 106-108 Cowley Road and the Oxford Electric Theatre, which he had installed in the building previously occupied by the Oxford University and City Baths and Wash Houses on Castle Street.

But architect John Wilkins's edifice was designed specifically to show moving pictures, with entrances situated either side of the pavement pay box and the projection room located directly above it. The red-and-white interior initially accommodated 400 and a reporter for the Oxford Journal Illustrated enthused about the comfort of the tip-up fauteils and how the six radiators made the East Oxford Picture Palace a match for any London venue.

Yet, the cinematograph beam was dimmed on 9 June 1917, as manager Horace Froude petitioned to avoid service in the Great War and six decades passed before the building was restored to its original purpose. In the interim, it was used as a storage facility and Oxford cinema expert Ian Meyrick can remember peeking inside in the early 1970s to see it divided down the middle by a partition and filled with furniture.

It took a maverick to revive the magic. American Bill Heine had been in Oxford since studying at Balliol in the 1960s. He acquired the premises in the mid-70s with Pablo Butcher and spun the myth that he had hit upon the name the Penultimate Picture Palace when his bank manager opined that if this wasn't the ultimate reckless enterprise it was the next worst thing. The seating capacity was reduced to 185, but the old frontage was revitalised by a giant statue by John Buckley depicting Al Jolson in minstrel make-up reaching out his white gloved hands in a scene from The Jazz Singer (1927).

Buckley would later create a pair of red-and-white stockinged kicking legs for the PPP's sister venue Not the Moulin Rouge in Headington, as well as the infamous shark in the roof of Heine's New High Street home. But it was the iconic image from the first talking picture that most caught the eye, as it beckoned people inside following the comeback screening on 18 July 1976 of Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's Winstanley, a drama about the 17th-century Digger community that was entirely apposite, as few have done more than Brownlow to preserve and re-present classic films.

For the next 18 years, the PPP built its reputation on double bills centred on the 8pm show, with the 6pm feature being repeated at 10pm. Along with the termly themed week, these rather dimly lit, periscope projected screenings provided a cine-education for the likes of BBC Director General Mark Thompson and Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, who recall the venue's heyday with evident affection.

Among the most popular attractions were the seasons of banned films. But one picture nobody got to see was Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). As the cinema operated as a members club, it often showed films that had been denied a certificate by the British censor. However, the 1988 attempt by Bill Heine and sci-fi author Brian Aldiss to show the feature that Kubrick had withdrawn from UK circulation after it was accused in the press of inspiring copycat crimes, was halted by a court order.

The PPP fell dark on 16 March 1994, following a showing of Cinema Paradiso (1988). It was occupied shortly afterwards by squatters from the Oxford Freedom Network, who gave illegal free video shows in what they ironically dubbed the Section 6 Cinema, after the clause forbidding squatting in the 1977 Criminal Law Act. However, brothers Saied and Zaid Marham took over soon afterwards and restored the façade for the Ultimate Picture Palace's debut on 4 June 1996, with Ridley Scott's cut of Blade Runner.

Saied (who declined to appear on camera) ran the UPP for over a decade, steering it towards the mainstream by specialising in second runs of hit movies. However, he retained the late-night programme's repertory feel and occasionally leavened the diet of cult favourites with sleepers overlooked by his city centre rivals. But, the days when the cinema could sell 100,000 tickets a year had long gone, as Philippa Farrow and Jane Derricott discovered after acquiring the business in 2009. Despite making their mark by removing yet more seats and installing a bar, the pair recently put the UPP up for sale. So, a new chapter looks set to begin for the jewel of Jeune Street.

Considering this is Hind's first outing, after taking a couple of courses at OFVM, it is remarkably accomplished and thoroughly engaging. The use of archive material is as impressive as the research, while the talking heads are stellar and enthusiastic, with Bill Heine particularly proving himself to be a natural raconteur in recalling the hurdles he overcame in renovating the premises and dealing with Stanley Kubrick's lawyers.

Released with an excellent booklet by Ian Meyrick and a solid selection of extras, the DVD makes a splendid souvenir for nostalgic patrons seeking to recall the heyday when membership cards had to be purchased from the Waffles restaurant, the doors were opened by handles in the shape of Mae West's lips and the smoke-free air was tinged with the competing odours of fish and chips and the disinfectant liberally splashed around the quaintly named Pearl and Dean toilets. It can be purchased via the cinema website (http://www.picturepalace.org.uk/). However, numbers are limited, so don't delay.

One of the ways in which the new owners of the UPP could boost business would be to tap into the cult movie market. In the meantime, however, Oxford aficionados of psychotronic cinema will have to make do with DVD releases like Jess Franco: Complete Collection, which offers 15 of the numerous titles that the now 80 year-old Spanish trash maestro churned out (under various pseudonyms) between 1969-85.

Mocking the traditions of such literary picaresques as Samuel Richardson's Pamela, Marquis De Sade: Justine (1969) is a ribald and typically raunchy slice of Francoist exploitation. It opens with sisters Romina Power and Maria Rohm - who were the daughter of Hollywood legend Tyrone Power and the wife of producer Harry Alan Towers respectively - being cast out of an 18th-century convent school after their father's death and sees them taking very different paths after they are forced to seek sanctuary in Carmen de Lirio's brothel.

Seduced by lesbian Rosemary Dexter (who was originally cast in the title role before the backers insisted that the limited Power would be a bigger marquee name), Rohm discovers a talent for lust and makes a fortune from pandering to the desires of rich and foolish clients. Power, on the other hand, is swindled out of her money by a priest and becomes a maid at Akim Tamiroff's inn, where she is promptly accused of stealing a guest's golden brooch. Sentenced to death, she encounters Mercedes McCambridge, a corrupter of innocence, who ensnares Power in her escape plan and inducts her into her band of murdering brigands.

Unlike her sister, Power has no talent for crime and she flees into the arms of artist Harald Leipnitz. But his initial kindness is quickly corrupted and the hapless heroine is soon forced to take to her heels again and finds herself being duped by sadistic aristocrat Horst Frank into murdering his wife, Sylva Koscina, so he can inherit her fortune and fritter it on gay lover Angel Petit. But Power again succeeds only in landing from the frying pan into the fire, as she accepts the hospitality of monk Jack Palance, who leads anything but a life of prayer and contemplation.

Bookended by Klaus Kinski writing the story to combat the hallucinations he is experiencing in his cell, this is softcore smut par excellence. But the production values are surprisingly lavish and Manuel Merino's camerawork is as polished as Bruno Nicolai's pseudo-Mozartian score. However, the real fascination lies in watching declining Hollywood stars like Howard Vernon trying to steal scenes from Eurotrash stalwarts like Rosalba Neri.

The presence of Christopher Lee similarly enlivens Eugenie: Marquis De Sade's Philosophy in the Boudoir (1969). However, the primary focus falls on Marie Liljedahl, another naive convent school alumna, who is swept away to her island retreat by Maria Rohm, who has been given permission to complete his daughter's education by the seedy Paul Muller, on the proviso that Rohm becomes his mistress.

Typically (for both De Sade and Franco), the invitation is merely a pretext for Rohm and her dissolute stepbrother Jack Taylor to drug and abuse Liljedahl. The next morning, however, the flesh marks left by the sado-masochistic session over which Lee had presided with menacing relish have disappeared and Liljedahl wonders if she dreamt the entire episode. But attempts to find out what is going on from gardener Anney Kablan and mute maid Uta Dahlberg prove fruitless and Liljedahl again finds herself a plaything of the twisted siblings and Lee's grotesque acolytes, Herbert Fux and Nino Korda.

Accepting a role that was originally offered to George Sanders and Wolfgang Preiss, Lee later claimed that he had no idea how Sadean the torture sequences would be and that the more salacious material had been added during editing. Yet, while this frequently makes for disconcerting viewing, it is certainly one of Franco's more accomplished pictures. Once again, Bruno Nicolai's score impresses, while Manuel Merino's use of colour and camera movement within the impeccably composed tableaux elevates this above the sexploitation median. The performances are also notably effective, with Liljedahl's sacrificial waif and Rohm's pitiless tormentor being the standouts.

By the mid-1970s, Franco had found a new muse after the car crash death of Soledad Miranda and Lina Romay headlined Barbed Wire Dolls (1975), a prison shocker also known as Caged Women that was commissioned by Swiss producer Erwin C. Dietrich when he became intrigued by the female members of the Baader-Meinhof Group. Shot in an abandoned military fort in Antibes, this was made on a shoestring and it frequently shows, with the performers at one point being required to retard their movements because Franco couldn't afford the post-production luxury of slow motion.

Jailed for killing her father (Franco) while attempting to resist his rapacious advances, Romay is chained to a metal bed frame and subjected to electrical torture by monocled wardress Monica Swinn. However, everybody on the staff has a sordid peccadillo, with aphephobic governor Ronald Weiss ordering thuggish guard Eric Falk to rape prisoners on his behalf and doctor Paul Muller acceding to the blackmailing Swinn's monstrous schemes in case she reveals that he is not only unqualified, but also a killer.

Romay's fellow inmates are no less freakish, with Martine Stedil suffering from bouts of lust and regret after dispatching her incestuous brother, Peggy Markoff forever indulging her masturbatory fantasies and Beni Cardoso proclaiming herself to be royalty. However, when a letter exposing the regimes crimes is intercepted, Swinn vows to punish its author and avenge herself on Romay, whose maturation caused Franco (who had long been her perverted lover) to abandon her.

Mischievously bedecking the sets with Christian and Nazi symbols, Franco pays little heed to the plot here and he seems no more enamoured of the storyline in Downtown (1975), which opens with a woman hiring Franco's Puerto Rican private eye to take some incriminating photographs of her adulterous, nightclub-owning husband with mistress Martine Stedil. However, soon after he completes his assignment, Franco learns from inspector Paul Muller that his quarry has been murdered and that he is the chief suspect. Moreover, when Franco insists that Muller questions the widow, he discovers that Lina Romay isn't his mysterious client.

Despite the reassuring presence of such Franco regulars as Monica Swinn, Beni Cardoso and Eric Falk, this is a largely forgettable exercise in porn noir. Franco (who directed under the name Wolfgang Frank and served as his own cinematographer under the moniker David Khunne) is amusingly louche as the shamus more interested in bedding suspects than clearing his name. But this is very much a minor effort.

He returned to form (if that's quite the mot juste) with Jack the Ripper (1976), a retelling of the infamous Whitechapel slayings that reunited him with Klaus Kinski. Doctor by day and maniac by night, Kinski commits his crimes with the assistance of devoted housekeeper Ursula von Wiese. But, such is his standing in the community that he is the last person that Scotland Yard inspector Andreas Mannkopff suspects after fisherman Herbert Fux reels in some meticulously sliced remains from the Thames.

Despairing of Mannkopff ever cracking the case, his paramour Josephine Chaplin decides to go undercover and lure the Ripper into a trap after gleaning clues to his identity from blind man Hans Gaugler. However, like Francine Custer, Esther Studer and Lina Romay before her, Chaplin soon discovers that Kinski is as determined as he is dangerous.

With cinematographer Peter Baumgartner working overtime to make Swiss locations look like 19th-century East End byways, this clearly strives to emulate the Hammer look. But the content is considerably more graphic, with Franco revelling in the opportunity to depict flesh and gore in the surgical, as well as the slaughter sequences. Yet, this is more psychologically complex than the average Franco schlocker, with flashbacks seeking to root Kinski's psychosis in the traumatic childhood experiences he endured at the hands of his ex-prostitute mother. Nevertheless, apart from occasionally being required to suggest an inner struggle with his demons, Kinski is hardly stretched by the role and Franco winds up being more intrigued by the plucky Chaplin (who was Charlie Chaplin's third child with Oona O'Neill).

If the aforementioned features had delighted in disregarding political correctness, Ilsa - the Wicked Warden (1977) took Franco's Sadeanism to a new level. Also known as Ilsa: Absolute Power and Greta, the Mad Butcher, this Erwin C. Dietrich production starred Dyanne Thorne, who had made her name as the vicious wartime in Don Edmonds's Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975). It never descends to the depths of its infamous predecessor. But it remains a decidedly dubious entry in a canon stuffed with kinky curios.

Somewhere in South America, Tania Busselier is searching for her missing sister. When a woman escapes from the Las Palermas Clinic for Sexually Deviant Women and informs Franco's anti-fascist doctor that hideous treatments are being meted out to the inmates, Busselier persuades him to commit her so she can snoop around. Unfortunately, she doesn't bank on warden Thorne discovering that Franco plans to close down her facility if he is elected to power and she finds herself trapped in a living nightmare after Franco is assassinated.

In addition to being ritually humiliated by Thorne and her deranged assistant Eric Falk, Busselier is also vamped by cellmate Lina Romay, who forces her to perform a series of degrading acts in return for information. However, Romay's predilection for pin-cushions and her bizarre toiletry habits pale beside the disgusting spectacles that Falk choreographs for the porn films he makes as a sideline. But, not content with presenting the orgiastic rape of mentally and psychically handicapped women, Franco also shows Busselier witness her sister's and undergo a lobotomy before he has Falk shooting covert snuff footage as Thorne is ripped to shreds by her revolting charges.

Cinematographer Ruedi Küttel reinforces the grimness of the subject matter with sombre images that reflect the baseness of the behaviour. But, even if it could be argued that Franco was reflecting the barbaric cruelty of the contemporary Latin American regimes that readily resorted to torture and murder, this is always more exploitative than expository.

An equally perfunctory attempt is made to explore Cold War politics in Blue Rita (1977), a decidedly odd thriller that stars Martine Fléty as the titular owner of a Paris nightclub, whose patrons are regularly trapped in cages by strippers like Sarah Strasberg and Esther Moser and drugged with a serum that so increases the victim's libido that he will readily part with large sums of cash or betray valuable secrets in return for relieving congress.

When one of her girls is killed trying to escape, Fléty recruits Dagmar Bürger and instructs her to coax Eastern European pugilist Eric Falk into revealing whether he plans to defect. But Bürger falls in love with Falk and seduces him in a bid to protect him. However, her life is endangered when Fléty (a lesbian with a crush on the newcomer) learns that she is a spy.

Strewn with naked bodies and including cameos by the likes of Pamela Stanford and Guy Delorme, this is a deliriously trippy take on the espionage thriller that places much more emphasis on the erotic and the exotic. The plotting is all over the place and some of the sex sequences are trippily weird. But Walter Baumgartner's score and Ruedi Küttel's photography root the action so firmly in the 1970s that it almost acts as a distorted insight into the period's sexual and political mores.

Franco returned to more familiar territory in Love Camp (1977), which ventures into South America to consider the activities of the Independent Revolutionary Front and its leader, Wal Davis. However, Erwin C. Dietrich's screenplay demonises Marxist rebels rather than fascist tyrants and this shift in tone clearly sits uneasily with Franco, who had relocated to France in 1970 to ensure the freedom of expression that was denied him under the regime of his generalisimo namesake.

Once again, the plot is simply an excuse for parading the likes of Brigitte Meyer, Ingrid Kehr and Monika Kälin in various states of undress. However, kidnapped bride Ada Tauler is treated better than many of the comfort women in Davis's camp, as he plans to make her the symbol of his revolution. But whip-wielding lesbian commandant Nanda Van Bergen (a pseudonym for Muriel Montossé) also designs on Tauler and she becomes the prize in Van Bergen's increasingly bitter power struggle with Davis.

Boasting supporting turns from the reliable Monica Swinn and Esther Studer, this is far less severe than Barbed Wire Dolls or Ilsa - the Wicked Warden. Indeed, were it not so remorselessly chauvinist, it could easily be dismissed as kitsch, especially as Van Bergen's sadistic antics are squawkingly commened upon by her foul-mouthed parrot. But, while the odd incident recalls Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), it's readily evident that this is nowhere near as politically contentious or artistically acute.

Released in the same year as Walerian Borowczyk's Behind Convent Walls, Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun (1977) is one of Franco's best known features. Censorship difficulties led to this sordid piece of nunsploitation being bowdlerised and delayed. But it retains a feel of Pasolini, Luis Buñuel and Ken Russell in its savage denunciation of both the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and the manner in which it used ignorance and hysteria as a form of social control.

At the height of the Counter-Reformation, Father William Berger is appalled to catch 15 year-old Susan Hemingway fooling around in the woods with a lusty villager and asks her mother, Patricia Da Silva, for permission to remove her to Ana Zanatti's convent. However, Hemingway soon realises that this is more a den of iniquity than a house of prayer and, shortly after receiving a lewd confessional blessing from Berger, she is possessed by Satan himself (in the form of dependable Franco standby, Herbert Fux).

Ultimately, her tormentors are hauled before Grand Inquisitor José Viana by Mayor Vítor Mendes and Prince Herman José. But, in this godless world of fake piety and droit du seigneur, there is no guarantee that José will treat Hemingway any better than Berger and Zanatti.

Although familiar faces like Esther Studer, Dagmar Bürger, Aida Vargas and Isa Schneider make up the nunnery numbers, the most fascinating piece of casting sees Anton Diffring play an elderly priest. However, his is merely a transitory role, as Franco hones in on the degradation endured by Hemingway. As in Barbed Wire Dolls, a misdirected missive lands the heroine deeper in trouble. But the trials she endures with thorns being pressed into her skin and her bones being stretched upon the rack are merely the prelude to a satanic assault that makes Mia Farrow's ordeal in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968) seem positively tame.

Despite its title, Sexy Sisters (1977) has nothing to do with wimples. Instead, it's a study in sibling envy that starts with Pamela Stanford attempting to entice Kurt Meinicke away from a saucy nightclub. However, she is not interested in sleeping with him herself, as she needs him to continue her persecution of Karine Gambier, whom she keeps chained to a bed in her luxurious villa in order to convince the medical authorities that she is a nymphomaniac, who also suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

Crooked doctor Jack Taylor conspires with Stanford to induce the hallucinations than convince Gambier she is going crazy. But Stanford also delights in forcing her to watch her cavortings with housemaid Esther Moser and brutal blast from her past Eric Falk. Yet it's not just simple loathing that prompts her actions, as the terms of their late parents' will stipulate that Gambier will inherit their entire fortune when reaches her majority, unless she is declared mentally unstable. However, Stanford has to judge her tormenting carefully, as the sum will be given to charity if Gambier dies.

Had Franco not been so preoccupied with the bedroom scenes, this might have made a tolerable thriller along the lines of Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). The leather-clad Falk's demise mid-coitus is certainly suitably guignolic. But, like so many of Franco's pictures, this fatally lacks a sense of humour that would make the sleazier aspects seem more ironic instead of pornographic.

Gambier and Taylor return in Voodoo Passion (1977), another tale of double-dealing that also rejoiced under the title Call of the Blonde Goddess. But anyone expecting a disturbing Val Lewton-style treatise on black magic like Jacques Tourneur's I Walked With a Zombie (1943) will be seriously disappointed by this smut-fest.

Arriving in Haiti to reunite with her British diplomat husband (Taylor), Ada Tauler is met at the airport by Muriel Montossé, who introduces her to Gambier, who claims to be Taylor's sister. The newly wed Tauler has been plagued by unnerving dreams and she is soon confused by figment and reality, as Taylor, Gambier and Montossé (who appears under the pseudonym Vicky Adams) mess with her mind. But the voodoo vision that culminated in murder turns out not to have occurred in her imagination after all and Tauler turns to corpulent psychiatrist Vítor Mendes, as she begins to fear for her sanity.

As is so often the case, Franco devotes much more time and energy to the nudity than the narrative. Consequently, this quickly becomes something of a chore and it comes as something of a relief when Andreas Demmer's camera is allowed to focuses on beaches rather than buttocks and breasts.

Moving forward six years, Macumba Sexual (1983) also has a seaside setting. But, mercifully, this reworking of Franco's own El Conde Dracula and Vampyros Lesbos (both 1970) is a vast improvement. Filmed in Techniscope by Juan Soler on the island of Gran Canaria, it not only manages to create a mortifying mood in bright sunlight, but it also puts a new twist on the sexual taboos explored in Bram Stoker's Dracula by casting transsexual Ajita Wilson as the nosferatu.

Lina Romay (billed here as Candy Coster) is holidaying with novelist boyfriend Antonio Mayans (aka Robert Foster) when she gets a call from her estate agent boss asking her to close a property deal with Wilson's enigmatic princess. Having been troubled by a series of dreams involving collared figures and a statuesque amazon summoning her to surrender to her desires, Romay is glad to have something to occupy her mind. But, no sooner has eccentric innkeeper Jesus Franco (aka Juan G. Cabral) issued a dire warning about her client than Romay is meeting with Wilson and her naked slaves, Lorna Green and José Ferro, who somehow look ominously familiar.

Naturally, Romay feels herself falling under Wilson's spell. But Mayans has no such inhibitions and he willingly becomes one of her obedient acolytes, as the couple enter into pagan rituals and frenzied orgies that Goddess of Unspeakable Lust watches while wrapped around a phallic totem. However, Romay continues to resist until the lure of Wilson's amoral aura proves too much.

Despite succumbing to the inevitable temptation to overuse zoom lenses, Franco generates a genuinely ethereal atmosphere throughout this `fever dream'. He's less successful in coaxing credible performances out of his photogenic cast. But, for once, the awkwardness of the acting captures the trance-like demeanour of Wilson's minions that is reinforced by a score that Franco composed under the nom de plume Pablo Villa. By no means a classic, this still advances the case of those who claim the Franco is an auteur and not just a hack for hire who churned out the majority of his 180 features without thinking of much other than his pay cheque.

Unfortunately, The Sexual Story of O (1984) and The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle (1982) suggest otherwise. Loosely based on a Sade-inspired Anne Desclos novel, the first sees holidaymaker Alicia Príncipe being duped into a ménage by neighbours Mauro Ribera and Mari Carmen Nieto, who make their living by procuring innocents for Count Daniel Katz and his wife Carmen Carrión to corrupt on their remote island. However, Ribera falls for Principe and they pay the price for trying to defy both fate and their social superiors.

Despite Juan Soler's lustrous imagery, this is infinitely less classy than Just Jaeckin's Story of O (1975) and The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle similarly falls a long way behind his softcore collaborations with Sylvia Kristel. Made under the pseudonym Clifford Brown, it centres on honeymooners Muriel Montossé and Antonio Mayans (again using their Vicky Adams and Robert Foster aliases), whose passionate indiscretion on the floor of a wax museum. However, when their lesbian widow friend Asunción Calero (aka Ida Balín) suggests they go to a disco owned by nobleman Antonio Rebollo (aka Tony Skios), Montossé finds herself getting turned on by go-go dancer Carmen Carrión and her marriage is soon in trouble as she becomes increasingly enslaved by her desires.

Reliant on a gang rape as a key plot device, this is an inexcusably unpleasant picture and it's best to move on to the last entry in this selection, Mansion of the Living Dead (1985). In many ways, this is no more enlightened. But it is closer in spirit to an Italian giallo thriller and again suggests that Franco is a more than capable film-maker when he is sufficiently engaged by his subject.

Who else but Franco would send four strippers on holiday to an island hotel run by the sinister Antonio Mayans (aka Robert Foster) and his voyeuristic gardener, Albino Graziani? Leading the quartet is Lina Romay (billed again as Candy Coster) and she is unsurprisingly put out when a blade is hurled from an upper-storey window as she sunbathes nude with Mabel Escaño, Mari Carmen Nieto (aka Mamie Kaplan) and Elisa Vela (aka Jasmina Bell).

Yet when two of the group are snatched by white-cowled figures and dispatched at the nearby abbey, Romay seems more intent on satiating her lesbian lusts and not even the discovery of Eva León chained to the wall of an empty room can convince her that Mayans is up to no good.

Many have compared the malevolent monks in this tale of witchcraft and lingering curses to the Knights Templar in Amando de Ossirio's Blind Dead tetralogy (1971-75). But Franco is again more intent on showing bodies writhing in ecstasy than anguish. Consequently, his pseudonymous efforts as cinematographer Joan Almirall and composer Pablo Villa are somewhat wasted, as is the serviceable notion of a cabal of undead devil-worshippers conducting human sacrifices in the hope of encountering the reincarnation of the 17th-century princess who can bring about their salvation.