It’s a good time for Jesus Franco fans in the world of home video, with companies like Blue Underground and Kino doing a lot of careful, fan-minded remastering of his work. Mondo Macabro is another player in this field, having recently dipped its toe into Franco-philic waters with their impressive release of The Perverse Countess. They have returned to the Franco well with their new release of How To Release A Virgin and the results are just as impressive.
The package begins with a new full-frame transfer that accurately represents how the film was shot. The image is detailed and colorful, including natural looking flesh tones that do well by the frequent sex scenes. The mono audio sounds fine and is accompanied by English subtitles.
Mondo Macabro has also assembled an informative little set of extras to accompany the film. A text essay on the film reveals all sorts of interesting details about the film in a few quick screens, including the sources for its Marquis De Sade references and the connections it shares with The Perverse Countess. There are also a series of brief text bios for the cast members, Franco and co-writer Alain Petit. It’s particularly interesting to see the diverse careers that the film’s stars had outside of working Franco: for example, Robert Woods had a role in the Hollywood war epic Battle Of The Bulge and Tania Busselier ended up running the estate of a famous French filmmaker.
There are also a pair of interviews dealing with the film. The first is an 11-minute chat with Petit, whose film criticism background serves him well as he offers up a quick history of Franco’s obsession with the literary works of De Sade and how he adapted motifs from these works several times over during his career. He covers an amazing amount of ground in a short time, including mentions of a few unfinished films that will tantalize the director’s fans.
The other interview features Stephen Thrower, a gifted genre critic who is quite knowledgeable on the subject of Franco. His approach is thoughtful, even scholarly in places, yet also informed with a certain dry wit. He discusses how the production came together, offers commentary on the performances and gives a fascinating account of the film’s controversial theatrical release in the U.K. He also gets into an interesting analysis of the film’s commentary on voyeurism, including a subjective interpretation of some visual choices of Franco that add interesting shadings to moments that might otherwise be perceived as technical flaws.
All in all, this is another choice venture into Franco territory from Mondo Macabro. Fans of the director will definitely want to snap it up.