Review: Countess Perverse (DVD)

Mondo Macabro gives Jess Franco's frenzied erotic thriller Countess Perverse an official and stunning stateside DVD release!

  • Director: Jess Franco
  • Starring: Howard Vernon, Alice Arno, Lina Romay, Robert Woods
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: 78 Minutes
  • Company: Mondo Macabro
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.33:1 - 4:3 - Full Frame 
  • Audio: French Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: 0 - NTSC
  • Released: 6/12/2012

Countess Perverse (La Comtesse Perverse) marks my first exposure to the works of prolific spanish director Jess Franco, and what an experience it was. A frenzied mix of European arthouse with an equal mesh of thriller and erotica, Countess Perverse is a sleaze filled romp of the highest order. Evidenced from the film's opening moments as a nude woman (Kali Hansa) washes up on the shore of swinging couple Tom & Moira (Franco regular's Robert Woods & Tania Busselier)'s beach house, snapping out of an unconscious state to scream the horrors of what she encountered in the distant luxurious house that resides on a rocky clifftop. Mainly fine dining cannibalism, tag-team rape and run-for-your-life hunting!
Not long after we meet the neighbors; Countess & Count Zaroff (Alice Arno & Howard Vernon) - the inhabitants of said luxurious house (which looks exactly like M.C. Escher's "Relativity" print), who have an insatiable appetite for gourmet prepared flesh and set Tom & Moira's new lover Silvia (Euro horror siren Lina Romay) as their next meal! As many have noted, Countess Perverse is essentially the depraved Euro version of The Most Dangerous Game. Complete with jungle hunting, and isolated island & aristocrats named Zaroff. Though instead of cleverly crafted traps or evil hounds, we have a topless Alice Arno gleefully taunting her prey with a bow and arrow. Only Jess Franco could make hunting entertaining and titillating at the same time.
Countess Perverse is a borderline soft core porno, showing everything but penetration. This version is billed as the "Original Director's Cut" so those expecting the inserted hardcore shots will have to seek out overseas editions. Franco relishes in making naked flesh the focal point, so much that the characters are rarely ever clothed. Not a problem when you have cult vixens Alice Arno and Lina Romay to gawk at but expect a surprise thrusting ass & dong cameo from Howard Vernon! When not pointing the camera at T&A, Franco beautifully frames the surrounding beach setting with a trained eye that's quite admiring. There is a clear amount of respect present thanks to Franco and all involved, to dismiss this as petty exploitation would be misguided. Countess Perverse truly deserves a resurgence amongst cult fans for that reason alone and all things aforementioned.

  • Video
Remastered from the original negative, Mondo Macabro's official DVD debut of Countess Perverse is nothing short of spectacular. The 1.33:1 full frame transfer (I must note the packaging lists this as anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen which is incorrect) is damn near pristine, save for a few expected pops & specks here and there. Colors are lush, detail is finely abundant and skin tones are natural & accurate. There is some out-of-focus blurriness caused by interior closeups but it's never bothersome. I watched this using my PS3 on my 46'' HDTV and the upscale led to many scenes having a Blu-ray like quality. This is a top rate transfer and Mondo Macabro should be commended for giving this obscured gem such terrific treatment.
  • Audio
A French Dolby Digital Stereo is the sole track included and comes with newly translated English subtitles. The dubbed dialogue is always clear and the film's electric guitar & loud orchestra soundtrack play out in a balanced and contained manner.

Bonus Features
  • Interview - Actor Robert Woods
Frequent Jess Franco leading man Robert Woods gives a really entertaining 15 minute interview spanning his entire career, from his Euro Western starring roles to his ridiculous & controversial roles in Franco's flicks.
  • Interview - Film Critic Stephen Thrower
Cult film critic Stephen Thrower sits down for a video interview to talk about Countess Preverse and Franco's massive career.
  • About The Film
A lengthy 10 page video essay that is a mini digest about the history of Countess Perverse. The journey of this film, beginning from production to it's hard to market release, is fascinating and information I'd have never known about if it weren't for this feature. It even touches upon the re-shoots Franco did for a hardcore porn version titled Sexy Nature!
  • Cast & Crew Profiles
Another highly informative text based video feature that is filled with bio's on the films main cast.
  • Trailers
Included is a Mondo Macabro trailer reel that showcases a slew of mind defying clips from their releases that are among the most insane this reviewer has ever seen. I know must own every Mondo Macabro DVD, as should you!