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Spain's Jesus Franco Dies at 82; Directed Horror, Erotic Films

Image: Spain's Jesus Franco Dies at 82; Directed Horror, Erotic Films Spanish film director Jesus Franco waves next to his wife Lina Romay before receiving the lifetime achievement award during the 23rd annual Goya film awards in Madrid, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009.

By Michael Mullins   |   Wednesday, 03 Apr 2013 03:17 PM

Jesus Franco, the legendary Spanish writer and director whose nearly 200 films spanned seven decades, died Tuesday in Malaga, Spain, due to complications from a stroke. He was 82.

Specializing in horror and eroticism, Franco's well-known cult classics include "Succubus," "She Killed In Ecstasy," "A Virgin Among The Living Dead," "The Awful Dr. Orloff," "Vampyros Lesbos," and "Daughter of Dracula," according to Yahoo's Movie Talk.

Though he was known for his contributions to cinema, Franco's first love was music, having initially studied piano at the Real Conservatorio de Madrid.

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In time, however, Franco's passion shifted to cinema, leading to his enrollment in Spain's Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematográficas and France's Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Franco worked as an assistant to the late film legend Orson Welles in the Spanish production of "Don Quixote."

Franco's first film to receive international acclaim came in 1962 with the release of "Gritos en la Noche," which appeared in America as "The Awful Dr. Orlof." In the film a mad doctor seeks to restore his disfigured daughter's face with skin grafts from others.

In addition to launching Franco's career, the 1962 hit helped to make Spain the center for European horror filmmaking throughout in the 1960s and 1970s, Movie Talk reported.

"He ate, slept and breathed moviemaking [and] lived to point his lens at anything that caught his eye," said Fangoria magazine editor Chris Alexander. "He was too arty for the horror crowd, and too macabre and lowbrow for the art crowd. He existed in a world and a class of his own."

Later in life, Franco's focus began to shift away from horror films and into erotica. Throughout the 1970s, the director released such films as "Women Without Innocence" and "Call of the Blonde Goddess."

In the 1980s, Franco began directing hard-core porn. Later in the decade, however, Franco returned to the horror genre that made him famous.

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In 2009, the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Franco an Honorary Goya, Spain's main national film award.

Franco's final feature film "Al Pereira vs the Alligator Women," was released in 2012.

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