• Sadist Of Notre Dame, The

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: April 3rd, 2018.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Jess Franco, Lina Romay, Olivier Mathot, Pierre Taylou
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    Part of the reason that Jess Franco’s filmography is so large and complex is his tendency to rework various projects into new ones. A perfect example of this is The Sadist Of Notre Dame, which was made in 1979 and is a kinda-sorta remake of 1972’s Exorcism, or at least it reuses a fair bit of footage from that movie. Exorcism itself existed in multiple versions (X-Rated released a limited edition set that compiled them – which we discussed here), so this just sort of adds to mess in interesting and sometimes rather strange ways.

    In the film, Franco plays a man named Mathis Vogel – once a priest, Mathis is now prowling the streets of Paris Jack The Ripper style, killing street walkers and other women he judges as unseemly. As it turns out, he did some time in an insane asylum and while he was recently discharged, it’s clear that he still has plenty of issues.

    Mathis is quite caught up in his work, however, and he seems to have a knack for convincing naïve prostitutes to come back to his place, a remote and rather dark home that he has all to himself. It’s here that he really gets down to business. Being a devout Catholic, however, he still engages in confession and has a tendency to spills his guts to Pierre (Pierre Taylou), a dirty magazine publisher he submits stories to who employs a beautiful woman named Anne (Lina Romay) as his assistant. As Mathis slashes his way around town, a cop (Olivier Mathot) tries to figure out who is behind the killings and why.

    Clearly working out his own issues with Catholicism on screen, The Sadist Of Notre Dame is often noted as being a very ‘personal’ film to the director, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always coherent of technically good. Die hard fans will likely be more impressed with this than casual viewers, however. The newly shot footage (most of which involves Franco’s character, so he gets lots of screen time here) sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, like a lot of the man’s work it’s pretty inconsistent, but if you appreciate seeing the director play the lead and don’t mind some less frequently less than perfect cinematography, there’s a certain ‘something’ here that’s captivating in a strange way. The film is hardly playful, it takes things into very dark territory and it mixes sex and violence together in strong and sometimes unsettling ways. It’s not quite a slasher film, though it has elements of that sub-genre in it and it occasionally dabbles in slasher film elements.

    Aside from the novelty of watching Franco strut about playing a lunatic – which he does quite well, actually – the film’s other main draw is the lovely Lina Romay, who appears throughout the film in various states of dress and undress. She’s good in her part, though this is hardly the most challenging role of her career. Some nice location photography and a very cool score from Daniel White also help add to the film’s interest factor.


    Severin Films brings The Sadist Of Notre Dame to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taken from a new 4k scan of what is believed to be the only existing 35mm print of the film left. The very nature of the film’s history probably means it would never look pristine regardless of which elements were available, but this is a more than watchable high definition presentation. The detail is there more often than not, but expect a fair bit of print damage and scratches and frequent fluctuations in color reproduction and density. Black levels are decent enough and the film is devoid of noise reduction and edge enhancement issues.

    DTS-HD Mono tracks are provided in English, French and Spanish, with proper subtitles provided for each of the three options. The English track sounds a bit rougher than the other two but none of them are perfect. Again, it probably comes down to elements. There’s some hiss and pop now and again but the levels, for the most part, seem balanced right.

    There are some interesting extras here, starting with commentary over selected scenes courtesy of Robert Monell, the man behind the "I'm In A Jess Franco State Of Mind" website. Here we get six and a half minutes of Monell speaking about the film’s history and the footage that was shot to be included in this specific cut of the movie, with some visuals thrown in to help give some of it context.

    In The Gory Days Of Le Brady we’re treated to a half hour documentary short on the legendary Parisian theater that is hosted by a man named Jacques Thorens who was employed at said theater for quite a while. As this piece plays out, we learn about the origins of the theater and then how it became rather infamous in Paris for showing horror and exploitation pictures. If this segment doesn’t related directly to The Sadist Of Notre Dame, it does relate to Franco as a lot of his pictures were reportedly screened there – overall though, this is quite interesting and worth taking the time to watch.

    Stephen Thrower On The Sadist Of Notre Dame, is just what it sounds like, another interview with the author of "Murderous Passions - The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco," this time running twenty-eight minutes in length. As is the norm with Thrower’s interviews on Franco, he offers up a mix of analysis and trivia about the making of the picture and he does it with plenty of obvious intelligence, enthusiasm and wit. This piece in particular is quite interesting as it gives us the background information we need to make sense out of the film’s existence!

    Treblemakers is an interview with Alain Petit, author of "Jess Franco Ou Les Prosperites Des Bis" that runs five minutes and gives us a quick but welcome look at the film’s travels through Europe with an emphasis on its odd history.

    Menus and chapter selectin round out the extras on the disc.

    The Final Word:

    The Sadist Of Notre Dame isn't Franco's best film but it does make for an interesting companion piece to some of his other pictures and the director's turn as the lead in the picture, along with Ms. Romay's presence, gives it plenty of interest to fans. Severin's Blu-ray release does the best it can with dicey elements and provides a more than watchable, if rough around the edges, viewing experience. Throw in some solid extra features and this is quite a well-rounded release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. cmeffa's Avatar
      cmeffa -
      Thanks for another review of a variant of a great Franco film. This is the only variant I still need to see. I own the others: Exorcisms, Sexcorcismes, Demoniac. Still waiting for Redemption promised release of the Sexcorcisme cut. The french tv print ( the print I own ) is the only one available. I need to get this one.