Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 3rd, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1973
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Jesus Franco, Alain Petit
Cast: Alice Arno, Robert Woods, Howard Vernon, Tania Busselier, Alfred Baillou, Lina Romay
DVD released: October 8th, 2013
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
Synopsis: A decadent countess is allowed to go home after her psychiatrist deems her mentally fit from the traumatic event of castrating her former lover.
With How to Seduce a Virgin Jess Franco return’s to familiar ground, the works of the Marquis De Sade. This influence is most noticeable in the way he depicts the decadent the aristocrat character a countess who is hell bent on seducing a young woman by exposing her to the carnal delights which she has so far repressed.
Other influence’s includes borrowing from his own films, as Jess Franco once again brings back motifs and characters that have appeared in numerous of his other films. The most obvious reference to his cinematic past is a sequence that involves women dancing and making love to mannequins. This sequence also starts off with his trademark use of bathing the image in red light.
This film’s narrative like most of Franco’s narratives from this era of his career is just the bare essentials to get the characters from moment to the next. With the film’s visuals serving as more important part of what is unfolding onscreen, then what words are actually being said by said characters. In fact this film has one of the more remarkable moments to appear in any Franco film. There is a scene in which the countess and her current lover are spying on the young woman they plan on seducing. During this scene the fourth wall of cinema is exposed as the countesses’ lover pushes her out of frame and acknowledges the camera.
Of course this would not be a Franco film is there wasn’t any sex or at least a hint of sexuality. And in this regard this film excels and then some. In fact for this era of his career, How to Seduce a Virgin is one of his strongest examples of how he could effortlessly jump between sexually and non-sexually content. This is simply not a case of having sexually related content for the sake of having it. Everything in this film plays an integral role in the story at hand.
Those who even remotely familiar with Jess Franco’s other films will quickly notice many recognizable faces. Most of whom would go onto work with Franco on his next film Countess Perverse. The film’s most memorable performance is that of this film’s protagonist Tania Busselier in the role of the virgin that the countess is trying seduce. From the moment her character arrives onscreen is quickly becomes apparent why so many characters in this film could be taken by her. Another performance of note is Lina Romay is one of her first major roles in a Franco film. And though she is only portraying a secondary character, which does not have any actually words of dialog. She still manages to create a character where most actors would have just phoned it in. Another performance of note is Alfred Baillou (Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay) in the role of the gardener.
Overall How to Seduce a Virgin is a classic example of how Jess Franco could take the most basic ingredients and create something that is well beyond the sum of all of its parts.
Mondo Macabro presents How to Seduce Virgin in its intended 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. Colors look vibrant; flesh tones accurate and black and contrast levels look consistently good. Details look crisp; there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in French and removable English subtitles have been provided. The audio, like the transfer is in great shape as dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include two interviews, the first one with author Stephen Thrower (21 minutes 28 seconds – letterboxed widescreen) and the second one with co-screenwriter Alan Petit (11 minutes 52 seconds – anamorphic widescreen).
Topics Stephen Thrower discusses how the year in which How to Seduce a Virgin was made during Jess Franco’s most productive era of his career, How to Seduce a Virgin was shot back to back with Countess Perverse a film that would feature many of the same locations and cast, Marquis De Sade’s influences which can be found in How to Seduce a Virgin, things that were in the screenplay that didn’t end up in the final cut of the film, the cast and censorship of Jess Franco’s films. Topics Alan Petit discusses include how Marquis De Sade was one of Jess Franco’s favorite writers, how Franco wanted to do a faithful adaption of De Sade’s writings and he also gives an in-depth overview of all of the film’s that Franco directed that were inspired by the De Sade.
Other extras include with this release are text bios for Robert Woods, Alice Arno, Tania Busselier, Howard Vernon, Lina Romay, Alfred Baillou and Alan Petit 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 How to Seduce a Virgin gets an exceptional release from Mondo Macabro, highly recommended.