Countess Perverse is classic Jess Franco Eurosleaze and one of the 11 films he completed in 1973. The film riffs off the human hunting classic The Most Dangerous Game but adds swingers, plenty of threesomes and cannibalism for good measure.
The film is the story of a very eccentric couple that live in a lavish house on a beautiful island. They have an odd habit of seducing beautiful women and then after they have had their fun, the wife likes to hunt the women naked, armed only with a bow and arrow. Afterwards to dispose of the corpses they are cooked up and eaten at dinner parties held by the couple, the whole thing give new meaning to the phrase to play with ones food.
Things get complicated when the husband of the couple in charge of supplying the girls falls in love with a Silvia, played by Franco muse Lina Romay. He decides to put an end to the games in an attempt to save her and keep her for himself. The film is not one of Franco’s best but it is still pretty damn entertaining and delivers everything you would expect from a Franco film.
The film was recently release by the great folks over at Mondo Macabro who I am a huge fan of on DVD.
The film is presented in the director’s original intended cut. This title went through quite a few iterations through the years, during its original run when soft-core was all there was the film failed to grab an audience. It was then re-released later by the distributor retitled, and since hardcore was now the drug of choice, new scenes and inserts were added to make the film play to a hard-core audiences.
The DVD’s box boasts a “new anamorphic transfer” and you can definitely see they did a great job both transferring and restoring this film. This only makes some of the great cinematography in the film even better. While Franco shot on a shoestring budget, he was a master of finding really beautiful pre-existing locations to shoot his films to add much needed production value.
The colors were vibrant and very saturated and even though this was a DVD, upscaled I think this transfer would hold its own with some Blu-rays.
The film is presented in 1:33:1 aspect ratio, which most of you folks would know from the old days as full-screen. So the black bars on either side of your screen are perfectly normal. This is slightly ironic to me being that the anamorphic transfer is now setup to keep the square image from getting distorted on a widescreen TV not the exact opposite as it use to be back in DVD infancy.
The soundtrack is an adequate Dolby Digital Mono Track and is as good as you’re going to get with these films, honestly. Most of Franco’s films were shot silent on location and shipped back to Europe in a workprint form and were dubbed and finished. The soundtrack being an afterthought while Franco was already off shooting another film.
While the disc is not jam packed with extras Mondo Macabro was able to give you just enough extras to get you off the fence to pick this disc up.
There is a great interview with one of the stars of the film Robert Woods, known for his westerns, that is very candid about his experiences shooting about 7 features with Franco in 1973. Apparently he had some issues with the nudity and sexual situations in the films, which make his choices to be in them a bit puzzling.
He also talks in-depth about life behind the scenes of the films and how they would just travel from place to place as a group shooting one film after another. It’s definitely a great look into the Jess Franco machine.
There is also another interview with Stephen Thrower who most folks would know as the author of the great exploitation tome Nightmare USA. He goes into some great depth about the history of Countess Perverse giving some more insight on not only the history of that film, but the other 11 shot that year by Franco and the 3 that were “Lost” or Franco just thought didn’t work and gave up on.
There is also an essay on Franco as well, along with the usual Mondo Macabro previews. If only I could get their theme music out of my head.
If you’re a fan of Franco I can’t suggest picking up this release enough. Mondo Macabro really put together a great package with an excellent transfer of the film and some very informative extras that really helped to give the film some context in Franco’s immense catalog.
Countess Perverse is definitely one of my favorite Franco films and I couldn’t have asked for a better release. It’s definitely an interesting entry into the human hunting and cannibal sub-genres that will make any fans of those happy they picked this up.
Countess Perverse is now available on Blu-ray/DVD.