Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 9th, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1973
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Jesus Franco, Elisabeth Ledu de Nesle
Cast: Alice Arno, Howard Vernon, Kali Hansa, Lina Romay, Tania Busselier, Robert Woods, Caroline Rivière, Monica Swinn, Pierre Taylou
DVD released: June 12th, 2012
Approximate running time: 76 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
Synopsis: A wealthy aristocratic couple lures victims to their remote island. Once on the island their victims are forced to participate in their sadistic game in which they are hunted and their corpses are then feasted upon.
Countess Perverse was made during Jess Franco’s most productive year as filmmaker 1973. He would complete 12 films this during this year. Besides Countess Perverse, a few other notable films that he directed this year include, Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac, Female Vampire, A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Other Side of the Mirror.
During this era of filmmaking hardcore sex films had already begun to infiltrate the mainstream. This shift in audiences tastes forced many filmmakers who’s bread and butter was the once lucrative soft-core sex films to make the move into Hardcore sex films.
Though Countess Perverse was not with the intention of being a hardcore sex film. It is a film that would suffering such a fate, when its producer would later have hardcore sex scenes added to the film for its Italian theatrical release under the title Sexy Nature. For this DVD release Mondo Macabro present Jess Franco’s intended version of Countess Perverse.
Content wise, Countess Perverse draws from to inspirations. The first and most obvious inspiration is the 1932 film The Most Dangerous Game. Which was adapted from the short story ‘The Hounds of Zaroff’ written by Richard Connell. And the other main inspiration being the works of Marquis de Sade.
Narrative wise, Countess Perverse is fairly straight forward. With the film’s atmospheric visuals and enthusiastic performances being this film’s driving force. Especially Howard Vernon’s (Diabolical Doctor Z, The Blood Rose) delirious performance in the role of a demented Count named Rabor Zaroff.
Another area in which this film excels is its main location El Xanadu, which is located in Calpe, Alicante, Comunidad Valenciana, Spain. Jess Franco also used this location for two other films that he directed, She Killed in Ecstasy and Wicked Memoirs of Eugenie.
Visually Countess Perverse takes full advantage of this locations weird angle architecture. And while this main locations serves up many picturesque composition. One must one overlook or undervalue the quality of this film outdoor sequences. Most notably those on the beach.
When it comes to Jess Franco films, sex is an integral them and though there are moments that come very close to being hardcore in the version of the film included with this DVD. This film’s use of eroticism is not done in such a way as to arose the viewer, as these moments often look crudely realized.
Besides the aforementioned performance from Howard Vernon. Another notable performance includes Alice Arno (Eugenie De Sade, Justine De Sade) in the role of this film’s protagonist Ivanna Zaroff, The perverse countess of at the heart of this film. The cast also features many recognizable faces from Jess Franco’s cinema universe like, Lina Romay (Lorna the Exorcist, Women Behind Bars), Robert Woods (The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, Plaisir à trois) and Monica Swinn (Barbed Wire Dolls).
Overall though made during the most prolific era of Jess Franco’s career, Countess Perverse still holds up as one of stronger films as a filmmaker.
Mondo Macabro presents Countess Perverse in its intended 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. It should be noted that the back cover art incorrectly lists that this a anamorphic widescreen, when it is not. Colors look vibrant and nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels look consistently good and details look crisp throughout. There are no issues with edge enhancement or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in French and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio is in good shape, as dialog always sounds clear and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include two interviews, the first one with author Stephen Thrower (16 minutes 04 seconds – letterboxed widescreen) and the second one with actor Robert Woods (15 minutes 57 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). Once again Stephen Thrower provides a thorough and insightful interview that puts that various aspects of this production into perspective. He also touches upon other Jess Franco films that were produced by Robert de Nesle, most notably Plaisir à trois. The interview with Robert Woods covers his career as an actor, his work within the Spaghetti western genre and working with Jess Franco. Other extras include with this release are text bios for Robert Woods, Alice Arno, Tania Busselier, Howard Vernon and Lina Romay and a lengthy text essay about the film. Rounding out the extras is the Mondo Macabro preview trailer which includes clips from titles they have currently released or about to release. Overall Countess Perverse is yet another extraordinary release from Mondo Macabro, who continue to raise the with each new Jess Franco film that they release.