As everyone with even a passing interest in the eurocult world knows by now, the incomparable Lina Romay, partner of Jess Franco, lost her battle with cancer on February 15th.
I first met Lina when I traveled to their home in Torremolinos to interview Jess for Blue Underground’s first Franco releases in 2002 and had the pleasure of spending a number of very enjoyable times eating, drinking, smoking and talking pop culture with the couple over the ensuing years as I traveled back to see them whenever a new DVD interview opportunity arose. A true highlight was cooking up the idea with Lars Nilsen and Matt Kiernan to get exploitation cinema’s first couple over to Fantasticfest where North America’s biggest genre festival’s first lifetime achievement award was bestowed upon Jess in 2009. We’d tried to get them over to the US a couple of times before but their requirements of some place warm where they could smoke limited the opportunities. Texas was an acceptable compromise to them as they had never been but always wanted to visit and the inseparable pair had a ball at the festival socializing with any film fans who wished to chat, eating BBQ and TexMex, and touring the city of Austin. Lars writes a beautiful eulogy about the experience in the first of the links below.
It’s curious that of all the interview sessions we had done with Jess up to that point, it wasn’t until 2006 that we interviewed Lina as Severin prepared to release MACUMBA SEXUAL and MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD. Even more curious, and sort of sweet, was that as uninhibited and fearless as Lina was on-screen, she was actually a little bit nervous and sort of shy talking about her work in interview (see excerpt below). The next time we interviewed her we put the two of them together but as of this writing that
interview/movie has yet to see a release. In person there was no hint of this bashful side, she was outgoing, charming and funny. Despite such an incredible filmography, she never looked upon herself as a movie star – she thought it a little silly that I asked her to sign my Fantasticfest mondo poster at the end of that trip but not half as silly as them asking me to sign a copy of Plague Town at the same time!
As the online community has already attested, she is greatly missed by many but she leaves behind a truly monumentous body of work. Our sincerest condolences go out to Uncle Jess.
Here’s a selection of tributes that have appeared online:
Badass Digest, Lars Nilsen:
Video Watchdog, Tim Lucas:
Trash Palace, Brian Horrorwitz:
Tomb It May Concern, David Z:
I’m In A Jess Franco State Of Mind, Alain Petit:
Strange Things Are Happening, David Flint