The Jesus Franco fil­mog­ra­phy has always posed a chal­lenge to cult movie col­lec­tors.  He has spent decades crank­ing out films at a stag­ger­ing­ly pro­lific rate and has worked for an array of dif­fer­ent pro­duc­ers, result­ing in a large fil­mog­ra­phy that is divid­ed up in count­less ways.  To make things even more com­pli­cat­ed, sev­er­al Franco films have been toned down or rad­i­cal­ly re-edit­ed by dis­trib­u­tors try­ing to force his eccen­tric work into more com­mer­cial shapes.

Countess Perverse is a good exam­ple of a prob­lem­at­ic Franco title.  It was re-edit­ed more than once by dis­trib­u­tors who sought to tone down the film’s mor­bid tone and up the sex quo­tient.  New sce­nes were shot by Franco and yet more footage was added in the form of porno­graph­ic insert shots by overzeal­ous Italian dis­trib­u­tors.  Tracking down any copy of this film in its orig­i­nal ver­sion has been tough, much less one that looks halfway decent.

Luckily for Franco’s fans, Mondo Macabro has come to the res­cue.  This label has long been a cham­pi­on of eccen­tric European and Asian fare, always striv­ing to present the best and most com­plete ver­sions pos­si­ble of obscure gen­re fare from all cor­ners of the world.  They have recent­ly amped up their Franco-film out­put with well-liked releas­es like Sinner and Lorna The ExorcistCountess Perverse con­tin­ues their suc­cess streak in this area, excelling above the norm in a few dif­fer­ent depart­ments.

The first thing you’ll notice about this disc is how good it looks.  It presents Countess Perverse in a high-def­i­n­i­tion 1.33:1 trans­fer that rep­re­sents the way the film was intend­ed to be seen.  The image qual­i­ty is very impres­sive, with rich col­ors and sharp detail on all that dis­tinc­tive hand­held Franco-style cam­er­a­work.  Better yet, this rep­re­sents the director’s cut of the film, with­out any of the reshoots or inserts that dogged its pre-DVD video ver­sions.  The orig­i­nal French audio is retained for this disc and it is pre­sent­ed with option­al English sub­ti­tles.

Mondo Macabro has also added in a hand­ful of extras that show off their curator’s pas­sion for this mate­ri­al.  First up are a pair of video inter­views.  The first is with star Robert Woods, who talks about how made the tran­si­tion from being a European west­ern star to work­ing with Franco.  He shares fond mem­o­ries of Franco, also dis­cussing the oth­er films they worked on, and talks about how the wind­ing path of his career took him in many direc­tions.  The oth­er inter­view is a ret­ro­spec­tive piece with author/critic Stephen Thrower.  He’s cur­rent­ly wrap­ping up a book on Franco’s career so he is able to offer a well-researched dis­cus­sion of this film, its con­text with­in Franco’s career and a thought­ful appre­ci­a­tion of its odd charms.

Elsewhere, there are a vari­ety of text sup­ple­ments that are well worth the viewer’s time.  The first is a dis­cus­sion of the film’s trou­bled pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion his­to­ry that com­ple­ments Thrower’s com­men­tary on the film nice­ly.  There are also bios for most of the cast, all of whom have lead the inter­est­ing lives that you might expect from peo­ple who end­ed up in Jess Franco film.  These bios fea­ture sev­er­al dishy anec­dotes that ensure they make an enter­tain­ing read.

The pack­age is wrapped up with the cus­tom­ary pre­views reel for oth­er Mondo Macabro releas­es.  Anyone famil­iar with the label’s work knows it offers a col­or­ful, often out­ra­geous and smart­ly-edit­ed trav­el­ogue through the extremes of inter­na­tion­al gen­re cin­e­ma.

All in all, this is a stel­lar disc for any­one inter­est­ed in the wilder side of Euro-cult fare. If you’re a Franco fan, this is a must for your col­lec­tion.

If you want to read Schlockmania’s film review of Countess Perverse, click here.