You probably already know if you’re a Jess Franco fan or not. And if, for some reason, you don’t know – you probably shouldn’t start with Killer Barbys. Later period Franco, releasing in 1996, Killer Barbys is a peculiar entry into the noted filmmakers career – a sort of slapdash, punk, excessive ode to Scooby-Doo – which feels more at home in the wheelhouse of Troma than with the guy who gave us Lorna The Exorcist. Likely not a title that even the more ardent Franco hounds were clamoring for in HD, it gets a new Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber.
The goofy premise concerns a punk band The Killer Barbies, who are driving around en route to their show when their van breaks down. Naturally, they’re really close to Countess Olga’s castle. She’s basically a vampire and needs precious bodily fluids to stay alive. What results is a strange mix of gothic horror, truly awkward comedy (which likely doesn’t translate well) and punk musical interludes, with plenty of gratuitous nudity and fake blood strewn about. It’s far from subtle, but subtlety isn’t something Franco is known for. It’s an oddity that will mainly appeal to Franco’s more devoted fans, but anyone into the lo-fi excess of Troma and its contemporaries should also find plenty to enjoy here.
Kino bring Killer Barbys to Blu-ray and it looks much better than expected. The transfer is void of damage and the colors shine – especially the necessary reds. It’s safe to say that this hasn’t looked this good on video before. Audio is in DTS-HD 2.0 for Spanish with English subtitles (French and English tracks are also included, but I watched the feature in Spanish) and it sounds solid with the louder musical moments coming through clear and dialogue being balanced well. No issues to note.
One supplement is provided and it’s a commentary by Troy Howarth (author of So Deadly, So Perverse) which is a great listen for fans of the film or Franco in general. It’s a full track with plenty of info about what’s happening on screen as well as Franco’s career at large.
Killer Barbys will likely never be canon Franco but it’s a fun film and Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray features a great transfer and a commentary track as an added bonus. Franco fans should eat this up, everyone else should rent it first. Recommended.