Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Venomous Vixens: Britt Nichols

Born in Guarda, Portugal, May 29th, 1951, the delectable and very statuesque Britt Nichols (born Marìa do Carmo da Resurreição de Deus) has enjoyed a successful fashion modeling career in Argentina for over 35 years under her more common name Carmen Yazalde, and, looking better than ever, she continues to model to this day, hosting cable TV shows and appearing frequently in the media.

A former Miss Portugal, Nichols married an Argentinian soccer player on July 16th, 1973, European Golden Shoe winner Héctor Yazalde, and moved from Portugal to Argentina in 1977 and has stayed there ever since.

When reading articles about the fashion model Carmen Yazalde on the web, as far as I could tell, there didn’t seem to be any mention of her cinema career in the early ‘70s. As I have found on a thread from the Latarnia Forums, she apparently does not wish to discuss that period of her career but claims to still be proud of the films she has been in; the bulk of which consists of films directed by the late, great Jess Franco. She also appeared in Amando De Ossorio’s Tombs of the Blind Dead and a giallo by Juan Bosch, The Killer with a Thousand Eyes.

Nichols left cinema behind shortly after getting married, but her relatively small body of work in film is fondly remembered and embraced by Eurocult movie fans. She is commonly seen in Franco films with Anne Libert (our favorite woman-in-black) and is perhaps heavily remembered as the sapphic vampire lead in Daughter of Dracula and more so as the bizarre, living-dead bombshell haunting the ancestral castle of the title character in A Virgin Among the Living Dead.


Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

Aside from playing a 'venomous vixen,' she also managed to land brief roles in two films, The Rites of Frankenstein and the aforementioned Tombs of the Blind Dead, as a kind of beautiful sacrificial maiden. It seems in both films a beautiful creature was needed, someone who could physically represent a perfect aesthetic ceremonial idol to be used for ritual sacrifice scenes, for the purpose of bringing about immortality and life-after-death for these films' monsters. Considering her goddess-like physical appearance, it’s easy to assume she was probably top choice for these parts. 

The main villain in The Rites of Frankenstein, Cagliostro (Howard Vernon), plans to create a female mate for his Frankenstein monster with an Adam and Eve inspired plan to usher in a new super evil race, by using body parts from kidnapped females whom he describes as the most-perfect females of the village, with the intention that Nichols’ character’s head be the crowning spectacle of the creature.


The Rites of Frankenstein (1972)

Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972)

As to be expected from most Eurohorror-starlets, Nichols took on the ever agreeable role, twice, of playing an enticing vampiress in Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein and in Daughter of Dracula; both films are a part of a monster mash-up trilogy, by Jess Franco, inspired by the "Universal Monster Rally" movies of the ‘40s, which also included The Rites of Frankenstein. Of course these classic monster films are tinged with Franco’s knack for eroticism but still provide all of the monster madness fun that one craves on Halloween. Nichols isn’t given a whole lot to do in Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein except look gorgeous while rising slowly out of a coffin or lurching through Dracula’s (Vernon) castle dungeon passageways, transforming into a bat, and attacking an unsuspecting victim or two.


Daughter of Dracula (1972)

One of her most significant roles was the lead character in Daughter of Dracula, a descendant and instrument-of-death of none other than Dracula (Vernon again) entombed underneath a chapel near her family mansion. Nichols and Anne Libert have excellent chemistry in this film. Their love scenes are extended but still very enjoyable and relaxing due to a number of ingredients coming together perfectly; the music being played on an old piano by a Baroque looking gentleman and the ornately Gothic interior of the mansion makes for a very picturesque and tasteful experience. Jess Franco seemed a little inspired by the giallo or krimi thriller with Daughter of Dracula, as there is also a killer with an unknown identity, dressed in the usual black trench coat and hat, making the rounds and offing characters, as well as the usual police investigators.


Les Demons (1973)

An additional lead role where she has an even greater chance to shine is in Franco’s Les Demons, one of those persecution-of-the-innocent movies that takes place during the witch hunts of the Inquisition. I prefer it over Franco’s The Bloody Judge. The added little twist is that Nichol’s character gets to become a real witch with deadly powers and show all those witch torturing and burning fools what someone who actually did consummate with the devil can do to them, all in the name of vengeance for her persecuted mother, also a witch. Les Demons has my favorite witch burning scene that makes for an insane climax (I took a shot from it for the title image to this article). Forgive my use of the overused idiom, but it must be seen to be believed.


A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)

Most are familiar with our latest 'venomous vixen' as the character of Carmenze, the weirdly seductive, sexy living dead diva with an even weirder way of satisfying her affinity for blood in the Jess Franco favorite, A Virgin Among the Living Dead. In my full review for this film, I described her character as “a sexy diva with the personality of an intoxicated teenager”, and, after re-watching it again, I think that description still fits. She’s not an integral part of the plot, but her presence makes things so much more bizarre and memorable, painting her toenails during a funeral ceremony or seductively rolling around on the floor, a Jess Franco hallmark, and crawling towards and sexually terrifying the idiotic servant of the house, played by Franco, in a great comical, tongue-in-cheek scene, in a very beautifully dark movie. She’s really just a standout, lascivious figure amongst the cast, doing weird-and-sexy like no other.


Devil's Island Lovers (1974)

She also had a small, kind of background, role in the woman-in-prison film, Devil’s Island Lovers, which is actually a lot more of a political drama than an exploitation film. Furthermore, some additional acting credits she has from films I haven’t seen yet are Virgin Report (1972), The Killer with a Thousand Eyes (1974), and Los reyes del sablazo (1984).

After perusing a lot of photos on her blog CARMIZE-BRITT NICHOLS-CARMEN YAZALDE and doing a Google image search of Carmen Yazalde, it’s apparent that she still looks great and is just as photogenic and delectable today as she was in her Eurocult heyday. I love this ageless mentality I sense from her, and it is very inspiring. She started hosting a cable show called Salud Y belleza (Health and Beauty) in 2004, so she probably knows a thing or two about anti-aging. If the birth date I pulled from Wikipedia is to be believed than today (May 29th) is her birthday! Happy Birthday, Britt/Carmen/Maria!, Eurocult actress, fashion model, and media diva, as well as an inspiration and a reminder to live healthy and age well.



Image Source: CARMIZE-BRITT NICHOLS-CARMEN YAZALDE



8 comments:

  1. Great write-up! So many Britt Nichols movies that I still haven't seen. I would like to watch Virgin Report since it also features Christina von Blanc but it looks very sleazy. Les Demons looks cool and that screenshot at the top pretty much sells it to me!

    I remember reading a Spanish interview with Franco (can't remember where) in which he talks about how Nichols' husband was a jealous man which was why she stopped acting. However, I'm glad that she's still relevant today and that she's still lively as ever. Many wonderful Euro actresses tend to fade into obscurity and we're all left wondering if they're still doing well (wish I could say the same for Laura Antonelli).

    And today is her birthday?! Long live Carmenze!

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    1. Thank you, Terence!

      It was partially coincidental that this article was posted on Britt's birthday since it hit me a few days ago that it was close, and so I decided to hold off on publishing until now. It makes the article that much more momentous.

      Virgin Report does seem like it'll be pretty trashy, some sort of staged documentary about different attitudes regarding virginity in different locations and eras. I might regret saying this later after seeing it, but from what I've read so far, it sounds like it might be boring.

      Les Demons is a bit drawn out, but if you're a fan of this stuff, which I know you are, it should be a great watch. It's no AVATLD but it serves its purpose, and Nichols steals the show a little from Liebert a little in it.

      For some reason I can only remember Laura Antonelli from Simona, and I regret that I can't remember much about that film (except the disturbing bull fight scenes). I've got the DVD so a re-watch is definitely on the horizon.

      Also, I want to thank you for pointing out to me who Carmen Yazalde is; I may've never made that connection, and so this article would not have been as interesting. In a way, as far as the media is concerned Yazalde and Nichols are like two different people.

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    2. how does a smoker live healthy ?

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    3. Judging by how well she aged, I imagine she kicked the habit.

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    4. Judging by how well she aged, I imagine she kicked the habit.

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  2. I wish I could find more time to dig into some of these older movies. I've still yet to watch many Jess Franco movies. I've seen A Virgin Among The Living Dead on VHS, inexplicably titled Zombie 4.

    I love the Blind Dead movies. I saw the first two while ill and delirious with fever. I drifted in and out from movie to fever dream.

    Thanks for digging deep again!

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    1. No problem, Brandon, and thank you for stopping by and commenting! :)

      AVATLD is one of those films I can't seem to get away from. I seem to have an impulse to reference it a lot, and the write up I did on it over two years ago still almost always sits in the top ten of the week with traffic stats; it's probably on the popular posts sidebar right now. ;) Yep! There it is, lol!

      The Blind Dead films are the best! I really should cover another one. As it stands Night of the Seagulls is the only one I've got on this site. Despite being a pretty simple creation, De Ossorio's skeleton Templar zombies make an eye-catching impression that sticks and are such a good innovation, while the films themselves can feel a little old-fashioned.

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    2. do what i did , get fired from your job nd it gives you so much time.lol.

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