Review by Troy
= Highest Rating
reclusive businessman (Michel Lemoine), last in a line of not-so-noble
noblemen, is haunted by fantasies of sadomasochism and torture.
His fantasies start coming true, thanks in no small measure
to the influence of his mysterious butler (Howard Vernon)...
Michel Lemoine, veteran of films by Mario
Bava (The Road To Fort Alamo, 1964)
and Jess Franco (Succubus,
1967), helms this interesting mixture of eroticism and horror,
originally banned in its native France for several years and
only now rescued from complete obscurity via this Mondo Macabro
DVD presentation. The film plays very much like a Franco film,
but it's no mere imitation. Lemoine, who plays the tormented
lead, brings a sardonic sense of humor to the proceedings, as
his pathetic character is thwarted at every turn and the devious
plans of Vernon's villainous butler go pretty much for naught.
The film's dreamy atmosphere blurs the line between reality
and fantasy, while characterization and plot are de-emphasized
in favor of cataloguing various images of eroticism and torture.
Compared to some of the films Franco was making in France during
this same time frame, however, the film seems rather tame, making
its stormy reception/banning seem rather curious in hindsight.
Despite its many good points, the film is
far from perfect. Without giving away any spoilers, it can be
said that the 'shock' ending is much too campy, thus undercutting
the impact of the final developments in the story. Also, in
de-emphasizing character, Lemoine's screenplay makes it impossible
for the audience to really identify with the protagonist — he
remains much too vague and illusive, as do his prospective victims.
On the upside, Howard Vernon gives his usual
solid, silkily villainous portrayal — he even gets to play his
character's father, complete with a gray wig and beard
for an all-important flashback sequence! Lemoine does what he
can with his underwritten characterization, and if he never
becomes as compelling as one would like, his striking presence
and perverse gaze go a long way in compensation. There's also
plenty of Euro eyecandy in the form of Joelle Couer, Nathalie
Zeiger and a couple of other actresses, all of whom display
plenty of skin.
Technical credits are solid, with the delightfully
tacky music score by Guy Bonnét standing out as one of
the film's best attributes. A nice addition to the subgenre
of "horrotica" specialized in by Franco and Jean Rollin, Seven
Women for Satan is sure to entertain fans of Eurohorror.
Macabro's DVD continues their standard of excellence, previously
seen in such releases as The
Diabolical Dr. Z (1966) and The Living
Corpse. This incredibly obscure film, scarcely released
in the U.K., has been cleaned up and looks about as good as one
can hope for. The letterboxed (1.66) image is enhanced for widescreen
TVs. Print damage is evident throughout and the image looks a
little washed out in parts, but overall it's a satisfying transfer.
The DVD offers the option of a French track (with or without English
subtitles) or an English one; the English dubbing, as can be expected,
is rather stilted and even replaces Howard Vernon's silky voice
(he normally dubbed his roles into English personally). Thus,
the French track is a superior alternative, although it contains
a bit more static and popping than the English one. Both tracks
do justice to the infectious music score.
Extras: a fascinating documentary on Lemoine
(Formidable! The Michel Lemoine Story, which includes reminiscences
by the actor on his collaborations with Bava and Franco as well
as comments on his career as a director), a theatrical trailer,
onscreen liner notes by Pete Tombs, and talent bios on Lemoine,
Vernon and Couer. 4/05/04