Tuesday, October 8, 2013



Label: Mondo Macabro
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 87 Minutes 
Audio: French Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Full Frame (1.33:1) Original Aspect Ratio
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Robert Woods, Alice Arno, Lina Romay, Tania Busselier, Howard Vernon, Alfred Baillou 

It's always a pant-swelling occasion when a new DVD from cult director Jess Franco arrives, especially since Franco passed away not to long ago. The Spanish purveyor of sleazy erotic cinema left behind a massive legacy with 200 films to his name, sure, not all were celluloid gold but Franco was a prolific auteur and 1973 was a particularly fine year for the director with over 12 films in production, many are considered some of the his finest and How to Seduce a Virgin (1973) is a pretty great watch. Filmed back to back with Countess Perverse (1973) it features the same principle cast, namely Alice Arno (Female Vampire) who stars as Countess Martine de Bressac who's just been released from an asylum where she spent a year after castrating of a former lover, ouch.

On returning to her gorgeous seaside villa the first order of business is a visit to the basement where she curates a museum of macabre cruelty, women in various states of submission and torture frozen in time, it's a pretty bizarre collectionNext on the agenda is to procure a whore to add to her collection, she lures the prostitute into the macabre museum under the pretense of nude modelling but it ends with the Countess whipping the slut into submission, she's enjoying every salvo of pain she inflicts, completely turned on by the experience Martine quickly moves to the bedroom with her husband Charles (Robert Woods, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff). Afterwards Charles brings to her attention a sweet young woman named Cecile (Tannia Busselier, Countess Perverse), the daughter of a wealthy neighbor, someone perfect for his wife's macabre art collection. 

The Bressac's peep Cecile through binoculars while the young vixen masturbate intensely through a bedroom window. It's like a dirty softcore version of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), can you imagine Jimmy Stewart jerkin' it while watching his naughty neighbors? Cecile puts on quite a show as the two peepers feverishly masturbate each other, they find her irresistible  and quickly hatch a plot to seduce, corrupt and murder the seemingly naive young woman. It's a very strange scene as the Bressacs grope and grind on each other while their super-cute, mute, sex-slave Adele (Lina Romay, The Hot Nights of Linda) latches onto their leg like a horny cat all the while caterwauling with obscene pleasure.

Jess Franco is definitely in his zone right here, we have sadism, voyeurism, cruelty, gorgeous scenery, awesome 70's fashions and lurid eroticism on screen in spades, it's a non-stop frenzy of sleaze, everything you would expect from Franco is right here, and best of all it's one of his better composed entries, a very attractive film. 

We have a small cast of Franco regulars, Woods and Arno are great as the corrupted couple out to seduce the younger Cecile who's turns out is not so virginal nor naive, she's quite a seductress herself. Aside from pressing the flesh with the Bressacs she even goes after the mute sex-kitten Adele, how could she not, Romay is irresistible and oozes sex in every film, mmm. The cast is rounded out by Alfred Baillou (Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay) as a creepy gardener and a chauffeur played by Howard Vernon (Delicatessen), all of whom are complicit in one way or the other to the Countess's depraved fantasies. 

So, we get a great cast, some attractive scenery and the sleaze is abundant with some extended masturbation sequences, sweet moments of lesbianism and an orgy of depravity that leads into a fun twist ending, plus we the added bonus of what's most likely the most erotic molestation of a mannequin ever put on celluloid, and for that we say thank you Jess Franco!

DVD: Mondo Macabro give Jess Franco's How To Seduce a Virgin (1973) it's first ever US release, presented in it's original full frame aspect ratio (1.33:1) the image appears quite nice in standard-def with strong colors and some decent clarity, film grains intact and the contrast is strong. I did notice some very minor telecine wobble and softness on occasion but otherwise we get a nice transfer from a gorgeous print of the film. Audio is French language Dolby Digital Mono and is very clean and well-balanced, dialogue and score sounds great,  there are optional English subtitles for us non-cultured lovers of sleaze. 

Mondo's disc has a few decent extras beginning with introduction by UK journalist/film critic Stephen Thrower, the feature touches on Franco's prolific year, with 12 films in production in 1973, many of them among his finest work. A second interview with writer Alain Petit (11:51) features the Franco collaborator speaking about the director's fondness for the works of the Marquis De Sade and the many films inspired by and/or adapted from his works, mentioning the unfinished Juliette de Sade film with Soledad Miranda and the later hardcore sex version filmed with Lina Romay which was recut by Joe D'Amato at the request of it's Italian producer, apparently turning a nightmarish film which featuring Romay shooting herself in the vagina, into a sex comedy of sorts. Petit also mentions his distaste for Franco's hardcore-sex films, and turning down a role in one of them. Extras are rounded out by text cast and crew profiles, production notes and a seven minute Mondo Macabro preview reel of their films, fun stuff, the Wilde Side of World Cinema indeed. 

Special Features: 
- Brand new transfer from film negative
- Interview with writer Alain Petit (11:51)
- Introduction by critic Stephen Thrower (21:27)
- Newly created optional subtitles
- About the Film 

- Cast and Crew Profiles
- Mondo Macabro previews (7:43) 

Verdict: How To Seduce a Virgin (1973) is a wild-eyed orgy of lurid depravity and lesbian delights, one of Franco's best and most composed features. Euro-cult goddesses Lina Romay, Alice Arno and Tania Busselier are enthralling and Franco captures their charms from every angle, gotta love it. 
4 Outta 5


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