Director - Jess Franco
Cast - Lina Romay, Alice Arno, Howard Vernon
Country of Origin - France
Distributor - Mondo Macabro
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 02/23/13
The Film (3.5/5)
A rich pair of aristocrats Count and Countess Zaroff (Howard Vernon and Alice Arno) spend their days living in an M.C. Escher inspired mansion on an island somewhere in the Mediterranean. The couple are not happy with the pleasures their money can by them have an arrangement with another couple living on the mainland to supply them with beautiful young women. These women are treated to a feast upon arrival on the island, and then are treated to a night of sexual ecstasy with the Countess before told the next morning that they will be the hunted down by Countess Zaroff in a perverse game of her own creation.
They will be hunted like animals. If they are caught and killed by before the church bell sounds, their flesh will be served at the next feast for the next unknowing victim. This cycle has perpetuated itself for an undisclosed amount of time.
When the film begins, A young girl has escaped and ended up on the beach ranting about the terrors she has experienced on the island, just as another young woman (Franco's muse Lina Romay) is brought over to be their next victim.
Jess Franco's golden period could be said to be the mid 60's to the early 80's. It was during this period that Franco was not only at his most prolific, but also at his best. With all the films he was churning out during this period, the stories had to be inspired by some external source at times and Countess Perverse is notable for that source being The story and film The Most Dangerous Game. Of course, Franco takes the framework for the Most Dangerous Game and absolutely turns it on it’s head creating an absolutely bonkers psychotronic sexually explicit version of the tale.
Of course, with so much material coming out of the same era some films are bound to be better than the rest, and Countess Perverse while very good did not attain the heights of truly classic Franco. While it does contain the trademark elements that make Franco's films so damn watchable such as sex, violence, some action, and the willingness to eschew plot in exchange for wild atmosphere. The film feels a bit over long for what is presented here. It takes almost an hour before the Countess begins her hunt,this wait causes the film to drag quite a bit.
That being said the second half of the film leading up to the discovery of the Count and Countess' secret, as well as the hunt and the films denouement are absolutely fantastic and manage to generate a good deal of both suspense, and with the ending (which I won't spoil) a good deal of awe as the film takes some final bizarre turns. With a career numbering over 200 films not everything in his filmography will be a classic. Countess Perverse is not a Franco classic, it is however, a very good film from the period when this quick shot auteur was at his finest.
Mondo Macabro delivers an impeccably beautiful transfer of Jess Franco's Countess Perverse. The film is presented in the films original 1:33:1 aspect ratio. There is fantastic detail on the transfer, blacks are solid, and colors are nice and stable. There is nice solid grain structure in place. I did notice a few soft moments, but that is probably more an aspect of the films production than the transfer itself. Overall, this looked absolutely fantastic.
The audio is presented with the films original mono soundtrack in French with optional English subtitles. I can find nothing to complain about with the audio elements. The dialogue comes through nice and completely audible throughout, as do other sound elements. I did not detect any evidence of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Mondo Macabro have put together a nice little extras package for their release of Jess Franco's Countess Perverse. The disc kicks off with an introduction to the film by Stephen Thrower, who I believe is working on a book on Franco's work right now. This is followed up by an interview with Robert Woods. There are also cast and crew profiles, and trailers for other Mondo Macabro titles.
Jess Franco's take on the Most Dangerous Game Countess Perverse is not quite classic Franco, but it's pretty damn close. The A/V restoration courtesy of Mondo Macabro looks stellar, and they've seen fit to put together a few nice extras to accompany the feature. Recommended.