• Seven Women For Satan (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: August, 2020.
    Director: Michel Lemoine
    Cast: Michel Lemoine, Howard Vernon, Joelle Coeur, Nathalie Zeiger, Martine Azencot, Stephane Lorry, Robert Icart
    Year: 1974
    Purchase From Mondo Macabro

    Seven Women For Satan – Movie Review:

    In 1974’s Seven Women For Satan (also known as Les week-ends maléfiques du Comte Zaroff), the film’s writer, director and leading man Michel Lemoine plays the enigmatic Boris Zoroff, the descendent of the sinister Count Zoroff who, years ago abducted and tortured many of the nubile young ladies in the woods surrounding the castle in which he now resides. During the day, Boris is a mild mannered businessman, and he seems perfectly ‘normal’ in every way that you’d expect. But little do the unsuspecting women around him realize, Boris also has a dark side. See, he’s following in the Count’s footsteps and showing a real knack for chasing down and torturing lovely young woman, all with the aid of his sinister butler, Karl (played with no small amount of sleazy pizzazz by Euro-cult legend and frequent Jess Franco collaborator, Howard Vernon).

    As the film progresses, Boris starts to hallucinate and before you know it’s he’s seeing ghosts. From there, he murders a couple of foxy ladies who themselves appear to be sporadic go-go dancers, and finally, kills off a young couple with the aid of Karl and the ancient medieval torture chamber that lays in the basement beneath his aged castle home. Things get complicated for Boris when he starts to become more than a little intrigued with the long dead countess (Joëlle Coeur, who will look very familiar to fans of Jean Rollin’s cinema) who once called this very same castle her home…

    Despite the somewhat loose plot and sometimes slow, deliberate pacing of the film, the visuals and camerawork in Seven Women For Satan are top notch and keep the viewer interested in finding out what happens next. Lemoine conjures up and effectively exploits a weird, dream-like ambience right from the start of the film and manages to keep that vibe going up until it’s over. While we’re not treading and real new ground in this movie in terms of the story, there are plenty of quirky, interesting and exploitative elements and a thick atmosphere of weirdness that make it a pretty entertaining romp.

    Seven Women For Satan also benefits from the presence of a lot of very pretty naked ladies, at least one of whom clearly had no problem writhing around on the bed with nothing but a furry blue boa pressed between their legs or doing a high energy bump and grind with a statue (that eventually turns into a living human and makes out with her). This type of thing does indeed make for good entertainment, at least in my eyes, and the picture checks off most of the requisite ‘Euro-cult oddity’ boxes.

    Sure, the film has its flaws. It’s actually got quite a few of them. Good portions of the film don’t always make a whole lot of sense and the plot can feel a bit contrived in a few scenes, but the good more than outweighs the bad thanks to the film’s sublime atmosphere, an engagingly bizarre soundtrack courtesy of Guy Bonnet, and a colorful cast make it all very watchable and quite entertaining to boot.

    Mondo Macbro offers up the theatrical version, running 1:25:25, as well as –for the first time on home video - an extended version with some deleted scenes re-integrated that runs 1:30:20, containing a grislier finale and some noticeable extensions to the sex scenes.

    Seven Women For Satan – Blu-ray Review:

    Seven Women For Satan comes to Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and taken from a ‘brand new 4k transfers from film negative, digitally restored.’ The extended version takes up 23GBs of space on the 50GB disc while the shorter theatrical cut gets 22GBs of space. Overall, the picture quality here is excellent and a very big upgrade from the past DVD release. Colors look pretty damn near perfect here, the greens in the outdoor scenes and the blue feather boa thing noticeable in the screen caps provided below are good examples, while black levels stay strong throughout. There’s virtually no print damage here at all, while the expected amount of natural film grain comes through nicely and naturally, preserving an appropriately filmic viewing experience. Skin tones look nice and natural and there are no problems with any noticeable compression artifacts or edge enhancement, nor are there any issues with noise reduction. The movie looks great.

    Audio options are provided for both version of the film in both French and English language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono format, with optional subtitles in English provided, translating both tracks. The French track definitely works better than the English dubbed option for this movie, but both of them sound just fine. Levels are balanced well enough, both of the tracks are nice and clean and free of any noticeable hiss or distortion. Subtitles were easy to read and didn’t contain any noticeable typographical errors.

    Extras start off with an interview with Michel Lemoine entitled Formidable! that runs sixteen-minutes and is in French with English sub. Lemoine is an extremely enthusiastic man when it comes to discussing his work and his love of women’s bodies, for the material really shines through in this piece. He speaks about the varied aspects of his career including his work as an actor, the films he collaborated on with Jesus Franco, his take on French ‘fantastique’ movies, and his work as a director. He also shows off some artwork in his home, which is kind of cool to see. This featurette originated on Mondo Macabro’s DVD release from years back.

    The main extra on the disc, however, is a fifty-eight-minute interview with actor/assistant director Robert de Laroche (who is credited in the feature as Robert Icart) entitled Movie Memories. He talks about how he wound up working as journalist before then getting involved with film, how he came to meet Michel Lemoine and then work with him, Lemoine's work in the erotic film business, his own personal love of genre films and getting exposed to the sexier side of French cinema after making some connections in that arena, some of the early projects he worked on, quirks involved in shooting a strip scene in England and some of the actresses that he worked with. He also talks about specifically about working with Nathalie Zeiger, having to get his 'body made up' for a role, what it's like doing a sex scene in front of the camera, Lemoine's directing style and what made him different, work that he did behind the camera on a few different features, how he wound up working on Seven Women For Satan, acting alongside Howard Vernon and how that was a big deal to him at the time, memories of Martine Azencot and Joëlle Coeur, how the film was banned when it was released, how much fun it was working with the effects and props in the picture, the terrible smell of the blood used in the crypt scene, and what he and some of the other cast and crew got up to once the project was finished. It's a great interview, packed with information and delivered by its subject with a great sense of humor.

    Rounding out the extras are thirty-minutes of deleted and unused scenes – café conversation, hitch-hiker part 1/2/3, master and maid (with commentary from Robert de Laroche that provides some context for it), seventh victim, seventh victim outtakes, alternate takes and cutting room floor. There’s some very interesting stuff here, including a scene where Jena-Claude Romer and Alain Venisse discuss the nature of fantasy versus reality, some additional ‘sexy time’ footage with the hitchhiker, an additional murder that was shot in an effort to bring the body count up to seven (it didn’t work but it’s chock full of nudity and it comes with some very graphic outtakes!), some unpleasantness with Veron’s dog and the girl with the blue boa and more.

    A French theatrical trailer (that uses the Les week-ends maléfiques du Comte Zaroff title), menus and chapter selection options and, of course, the ever-present Mondo Macabro promo reel finish up the extra features on the disc.

    Although this review is based on a BD-R, finished product is set to include reversible cover art and an insert booklet containing new writing on the film by Pete Tombs. A PDF of Tombs’ essay, entitled The Devil’s Work: The Making Of Seven Women For Satan was provided for a review and it covers the film's odd release history, it's place in the pantheon of 'real horror movies' to have come out of France, the French horror industry's ties to the French pornography industry, Michel Lemoine's life and times stretching back to the 1940's and how he shifted from acting to directing and how it tied into the changing ideas behind the depictions of sex in French cinema. It also covers his appreciatino for 'film fantastique,' the influence of The Most Dangerous Game on Seven Women For Satan, the film's issues with French censorship, and how and why Lemoine made two versions of the film - the slightly edited version which was close to the Mondo Macabro DVD release that was intended for the censors, and the longer versino that closely resemble the extended cut on this Blu-ray. The censors wound up with the extended cut, and were not impressed with the longer sex scenes and the final killing included in it. It goes on to cover more details about the film's history, some of the outtakes included on this disc, connections that the cast and crew have to other French productions and quite a bit more. It also includes an assorted of stills and poster art for the feature and some nice behind the scenes photos. IT’s quite an invaluable reference piece for anyone truly interested in this history of this picture and the man who made it.

    Seven Women For Satan – The Final Word Review:

    Seven Women For Satan is a bizarre and decadent film that, while flawed, has more than enough prime moments to make it worth a look for Eurocult fans. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release is a thing of beauty, presenting the film in excellent shape and with a very nice selection of extras features as well. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Seven Women For Satan Blu-ray screen caps!