Jesus Franco – La Comtesse Perverse [Director’s Cut] (1974)
A wealthy aristocratic couple lures victims to their remote island. Once on the island their victims are forced to participate in their sadistic game in which they are hunted and their corpses are then feasted upon. Countess Perverse was made during Jess Franco’s most productive year as filmmaker 1973. He would complete 12 films that single year. Besides Countess Perverse, a few other notable films that he directed that year include, Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac, Female Vampire, A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Other Side of the Mirror.
During this era of filmmaking hardcore sex films had already begun to infiltrate the mainstream. This shift in audiences tastes forced many filmmakers who’s bread and butter was the once lucrative soft-core sex films to make the move into hardcore.
Though Countess Perverse was not made with the intention of being a hardcore sex film, it did suffer such a fate, when its producer would later have hardcore sex scenes added to the film for its Italian theatrical release under the title Sexy Nature. For this DVD release Mondo Macabro presents Jess Franco’s intended version of Countess Perverse.
Content wise, Countess Perverse draws from to inspirations. The first and most obvious inspiration is the 1932 film The Most Dangerous Game. Which was adapted from the short story ‘The Hounds of Zaroff’ written by Richard Connell. And the other main inspiration being the works of Marquis de Sade.
Narrative wise, Countess Perverse is fairly straight forward. With the film’s atmospheric visuals and enthusiastic performances being this film’s driving force. Especially Howard Vernon’s (Diabolical Doctor Z, The Blood Rose) delirious performance in the role of a demented Count named Rabor Zaroff.
Another area in which this film excels is its main location El Xanadu, which is located in Calpe, Alicante, Comunidad Valenciana, Spain. Jess Franco also used this location for two other films that he directed, She Killed in Ecstasy and Wicked Memoirs of Eugenie.
Visually Countess Perverse takes full advantage of this locations weird angle architecture. And while this main locations serves up many picturesque composition. One must not overlook or undervalue the quality of this film outdoor sequences. Most notably those on the beach.
When it comes to Jess Franco films, sex is an integral them and though there are moments that come very close to being hardcore in the version of the film included with this DVD. This film’s use of eroticism is not done in such a way as to arose the viewer, as these moments often look crudely realized.
Besides the aforementioned performance from Howard Vernon. Another notable performance includes Alice Arno (Eugenie De Sade, Justine De Sade) in the role of this film’s protagonist Ivanna Zaroff, The perverse countess of at the heart of this film. The cast also features many recognizable faces from Jess Franco’s cinema universe like, Lina Romay (Lorna the Exorcist, Women Behind Bars), Robert Woods (The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, Plaisir à trois) and Monica Swinn (Barbed Wire Dolls). Overall though made during the most prolific era of Jess Franco’s career, Countess Perverse still holds up as one of stronger films as a filmmaker.