Release Date(s)1975 (December 8, 2020)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B
Michel Lemoine is known primarily as an actor, but also as a director of assorted erotic films. One of the few non-erotic pieces that he performed both duties on is the 1975 French film Seven Women for Satan (aka Les week-ends malefiques du Comte Zaroff, or The Wicked Weekends of Count Zaroff). A surrealist mix of drama, horror, and erotica, it plays more to the Jess Franco crowd than it does a traditional genre audience. Time means very little in the film’s universe, meaning that the narrative is far from straightforward. In fact, one might describe it as chaotic. It jumps back and forth in time randomly, sometimes even years, to events that may or may not be happening. We’re never sure if what’s taking place on the screen is reality, a dream, or a hallucination. One beautiful woman after another appears to fall prey to the charms and, eventually, the murderous whims of a delusional person. Because of this, the film can be difficult to decipher, if it was intended to be deciphered at all. What it has going for it the most is its experimental nature and lush cinematography, revealing the gorgeous French countryside, as well as the dark and sinister interiors of a castle, a crypt, and a torture chamber.
Count Boris Zaroff (Michel Lemoine) is a businessman haunted by the past. His dead wife appears to him everywhere, whether he’s driving home or wandering around outside of his private castle. Meanwhile, his servant Karl (Howard Vernon) is encouraging him to take part in a variety of sadistic and sexual activities. The Count begins bringing home hitch-hikers and allowing couples to spend the night in his castle. But when the Count isn’t making love to the women, he’s torturing or murdering them… or so it seems. The Count’s visions of his wife become more frequent and his hold on reality appears to be slipping, but is there something more sinister at work or is the Count simply losing his mind?
Mondo Macbro brings Seven Women for Satan to Blu-ray utilizing a 4K transfer from the original camera negative in its original theatrical and extended versions. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with the title 7 femmes pour un sadique, the film has a lot of stylistic touches to it, chiefly an abundance of soft focus. Even taking a scan straight off of the OCN yields a cloudy, soft-looking film, though deliberately. That said, this a terrific transfer with even grain levels and mostly solid blacks. The color palette is beautiful with lush greens, reds, and blues. Skin tones are a tad too pink and the overall picture is slightly too bright, but it’s otherwise quite natural-looking. It’s also stable with minor scratches and speckling leftover. Minor frame damage is leftover that apparently could not be repaired fully, but it’s relegated to the beginning of the film, smoothing out as the presentation goes on.
There are two audio tracks to choose from: French and English 2.0 Mono DTS-MA Master Audio, both with optional English subtitles. The original French track offers plenty of fidelity with discernible dialogue and a hefty low end for the upbeat 1970s synth-driven score (reminiscent of Goblin), but the audio tends to lean to the left and there are obvious instances of hiss, crackle, distortion, and a few minor dropouts. The English track is much more balanced, though the same type of wear and tear that’s evident on the other track is present as well.
The following extras are also included in HD:
- Formidable! The Michel Lemoine Story (15:38)
- Movie Memoirs with Robert de Laroche (57:33)
- French Trailer (1:34)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Cafe Conversation (2:09)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Hitch-Hiker Part One (1:59)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Hitch-Hiker Part Two (3:20)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Hitch-Hiker Part Three (2:14)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Master and Maid (6:02)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Seventh Victim (1:22)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Seventh Victim Outtakes (2:43)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Alternate Takes (7:36)
- Deleted and Unused Scenes: Cutting Room Floor (2:26)
- More from Mondo Macabro (13:51)
Director and actor Michel Lemoine discusses his film career, working on stage and in Rome, the various films that he’s worked on over the years, his admiration for other filmmakers (including Jess Franco), his directorial work, and the aversion to French horror films in their home country. Robert de Laroche discusses his early upbringing as a journalist, the various people that he’s met and worked with, interviewing Michel Lemoine for the first time, his interest in genre and erotic films, humorous stories from the sets of several films, and working on Seven Women for Satan as an assistant director and actor. The majority of the Deleted and Unused Scenes are from the extended version of the film, but there are outtakes, alternate takes, and other random trims. Rounding things out is a trailer reel for other Mondo Macabro titles. It’s worth noting that this is a standard release. A previous Limited Edition release, now sold out, included a red amaray case with an insert booklet containing an essay by Pete Tombs.
Seven Women for Satan is a total sensory experience, and a sleazy one at that. It’s definitely not a film for everyday audiences, but for those interested, Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release presents it in the best quality possible on Blu-ray.
- Tim Salmons