Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jess Franco teaches us How To Seduce A Virgin

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Director: Jesus "Jess" Franco

Cast: Alice Arno, Robert Wood, Lina Romay, Howard Vernon, Tania Busselier, Alfred Baillou

Mondo Macabro / Region 1 / Unrated / 4:3 fullscreen / French Dolby Digital stereo / Optional English subtitles / 87 minutes

Extras: Interview with writer Alain Petite / Introduction by critic Stephen Thrower / Newly created optional subtitles / Extensive production notes / Mondo Macabro previews

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When I started watching the latest release from Mondo Macabro, the little known Plaisir trois (Enjoy Three) aka How to Seduce a Virgin, I had a massive case of deja vu. I thought for sure that I had seen this movie before but logically, I knew I hadn't. It turns out that Uncle Jess absolutely loved the Marquis de Sade, especially a story called "La Philosophie dans le boudoir" or "Philosophy in the Bedroom" in which a married Libertine couple introduce a virgin named Eugénie to the open sexual lifestyle. Franco has tread this ground a few times, most notably Eugenie... the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion. In this incarnation, the Libertines are played by Eugénie blonde stunner and Franco regular, Alice Arno and another Jess favorite, Robert Wood. Arno's very rich character "Martine" is released from an insane asylum for cutting off a former lover's dick and goes directly home to husband "Charles" to continue their swinging ways.

We are introduced to their Cellar of Sin and murder right from the get-go, containing machines of torture and women seemingly frozen in various positions of torment. Wanting to get back to it, Charles tells Martine of a comely virgin next door who he wants to add to their lifestyle of debauchery. So the two devise a plan to seduce her, but who is the real mark? Just like with the storyline, Jess Franco has gathered a gaggle of his favorite actors and actresses to tell his sordid story; Alice Arno, Robert Wood, Lina Romay, Howard Vernon and Tania Busselier who plays the doe-eyed virgin and has been in at least two other Franco movies, The Perverse Countess and Wanda, the Wicked Warden. Romay portrays the mute sex slave of Martine and Charles and, of course, is nude through most of the movie. To be fair, most of the women are more naked than dressed for the duration of the runtime.

Alice Arno has the body of an Amazonian goddess and isn't afraid to show it off, thankfully. How to Seduce a Virgin is a wonderful Jess Franco sex romp with little to no "down time" (if you know what I mean) and a fantastic twist ending. Mondo Macabro's release of this obscure title is on par with their other amazing updated treasures. This beautiful full-frame transfer looks as good as any European production or Franco-lensed film and better than a lot of newer domestic movies on DVD from the '80s and '90s. The extras are almost always a treat as well and this time they got one of my favorite genre film authors Stephen Thrower ("Nightmare USA") to sit down for a 21 minute interview on the film and its Francophile significance. The other interview is with How to Seduce a Virgin's writer Alain Petit (who also wrote two other Franco films and one for Luigi Batzella of Nude For Satan fame) who explains Jess' love of de Sade and his story "La Philosophie dans le boudoir".

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