aka La comtesse perverse
Director: Jesus “Jess” Franco
Cast: Howard Vernon, Lina Romay, Alice Arno, Robert Woods, Tania Busselies
Disk Extras: Interviews with Robert Woods and Stephen Thrower / Exclusive profile of Jess Franco / Mondo Macabro trailers
Many films have been inspired by the Richard Connell short story ”The Hounds of Zaroff” or the title it is more popularly known by, “The Most Dangerous Game” from 1924. Said story follows a big game hunter who falls in the ocean and swims to the nearest island for help. The tables are turned on the sportsman as he is then hunted by a Cossack blueblood making him “The Most Dangerous Game”. A movie by the same name was made in 1932 by the co-directors of the original King Kong but more recent films like The Running Man (1987), John Woo’s Hard Target from 1993 and many more fit the mold of being influenced. But the most sleazy by far of that long list has to be Jess Franco’s La comtesse perverse or Countess Perverse.
Following the blueprint laid out by Connell’s story, we find an aristocratic couple -the Count and Countess Zaroff- living on their own island and having company over for dinner… literally. They are cannibals and the Countess is an Amazonian hunter who likes to kill the food for sport, but it doesn’t stop there. The devious duo also like to play with their food before killing and eating, and when I say “play” I mean seduce and have naughty time with. Across the water on the mainland is a younger couple, Tom and Moira, who helps the Zaroffs with supplying the succulent dinner guests. When they meet their new neighbor Silvia (the very young, tender and no doubt sweet Lina Romay), the couple decide that is she is the perfect meal (of every kind) for the Count and Countess. But Silvia is so appetizing, Tom wants her for himself, but only in the sexy time way.
All of these trashy and debauched goings-on are highlighted by director Jess Franco and his wandering, intrusive eye. He gets the camera in places only the most sordid of porn movies would go and some of the angles are just… wrong. In one scene there is an older man (I believe Howard Vernon’s character) whose flabby, elderly ass is blocking the view of a perfectly delectable young vagina while is he pounding away and grunting like a wounded animal. Only Franco would shoot that full-on instead of taking a more delicate, artistic approach. Countess Perverse is one of the strongest Franco films I have ever seen, my favorite being 1981′s Sadomania starring the incredible Ajita Wilson because of the massive level of prurience. The sleaze being very close to the same level, the story and acting are much better here and the ending is actually a shocking surprise.
You will still find the Franco directorial staples like his love of zoom and the fish-eye lens which are things that make him one of a kind. Fortunately Mondo Macabro did a fantastic job with the new anamorphic fullscreen transfer which is pristine. In this case the “anamorphic” part just means that it is formatted to fit your 16×9 TV without any extra info at the top and bottom, not to be confused with “anamorphic widescreen”. There are lots of great disk extras like an interview with Euro/exploitation film historian/critic Stephen Thrower but my favorite is the extensive production notes written by my favorite film critic Nathaniel Thompson of DVD Delirium and www.mondo-digital.com fame. This is my first Mondo Macabro review in a while and I am really impressed with the movie and the release itself. Pick this up next Tuesday, 6/12/12 to add it to your Jess Franco collection.