• Sins Of The Flesh (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: August, 2020.
    Director: Claude Mulot
    Cast: Anne Libert, Francis Lemonnier, Patrick Penn, Barbara Sommers, Georges Gueret, Katia Tchenko, Robert Lombard
    Year: 1974
    Purchase From Mondo Macabro

    Sins Of The Flesh – Movie Review:

    When we first meet Benoît Landrieux (Francis Lemonnier), he’s approached by a flirtatious blonde in a cafe. She wants him to take her for a ride in his fancy car out to the woods. Intrigued, he obliges and learns soon after that she and her friends are playing a little game where they steal a button from each man they lay. She gets out of the car and disrobes, but when he can’t get it up, she makes fun of him and he drives off, leaving her there.

    It turns out that Benoît’s father is an ultra-rich factory owner who has been supporting him all this while. He goes to visit his strangely flirtatious stepmother, who disrobes and asks him to give her a massage, and then to his father who, this time, refuses to give him any money. That night, he finds a young man trying to steal his car. Rather than start a fight with him or detain him and call the cops, he instead hops in the passenger seat and tells him to take him for a ride to his country home. The young man, who we learn is named Jean-Pierre (Patrick Penn), obliges. On the way, they witness a twenty-year old named Isabelle (Anne Libert) being raped on the side of the road by her stepfather (Georges Guéret). They stop, put an end to it, and bring her along for the ride, Benoît pretending to be Jean-Pierre’s servant for the duration of the trip.

    Shortly after arriving, Benoît serves the other two some mushroom tea, leading to a hallucinatory sex session between Jean-Pierre and Isabelle. As Benoît’s mind games get weirder and his voyeuristic tendencies become more obvious, he comes up with a plan to rob his father’s factory and blackmail his step-mother into giving him the money he wants so he can continue living his bizarre and decadent lifestyle.

    Directed by Claude Mulot (under the alias of Frederic Lansac, a nod to his earlier film The Blood Rose), Sins Of The Flesh (or Les Charnelles en Francais) just before he struck XXX gold with Pussy Talk, Sins Of The Flesh is a wild mix of psychedelic visuals, twisted sexual happenings and unexpected twists. Stopping just short of hardcore, the bumping and grinding in this one gets pretty graphic in spots but it’s often times beautifully shot (the mushroom trip sex scene between Jean-Pierre and Isabelle being the best example of this). Jacques Assuérus’ cinematography really bumps this picture up a few notches, it’s never less than excellent at any given time in the movie. The score from Eddie Vartan helps here too, and overall the production values here are quite strong, Mulot making excellent use of some interesting locations.

    Performances are pretty good here. Francis Lemonnier makes Benoît an interesting lead character. We know not to trust him from the start and it’s clear that he’s got issues. What isn’t clear, at least to begin with, is how manipulative he’ll get before all of this is over, and Lemonnier does a great job of crafting Benoît as a real snake in the grass. Patrick Penn is quite good as the more aloof of the two men, going along with Benoît’s plan maybe a bit more easily than he should be but likely having a good time of it all. Anne Libert, who will look very familiar to Jess Franco fans for her appearances in a few of his pictures, also does fine work in the picture.

    Sins Of The Flesh – Blu-ray Review:

    Sins Of The Flesh 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 feature takes up 23.3GBs of space on the 50GB disc. The transfer is remarkably colorful, it pops quite nicely without looking artificially boosted over oversaturated at all. Skin tones – and there are a lot of them on display in this movie – looks quite natural, never too pink, and black levels are nice and deep throughout. Detail is very strong, there’s plenty of depth and texture evident in the picture as well. There are no problems to note with any compression problems nor are there any issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement. This looks nice and naturally film-like throughout and, overall, is a pretty impressive effort.

    Audio options are provided for both version of the film in both French and English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono format, with optional subtitles in English provided which translate the French track. While the English dubbed option sounds fine, the movie plays better in its native French. Dialogue is clear, the score sounds quite good. No problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about, the audio sounds just fine.

    Extras start off with an interview with a very animated Anne Libert entitled La Charnelle that runs twenty-one-minutes. In this featurette, she speaks quite candidly about her schooling and how she got into acting, working early on with Roger De Nesle in Vice And Virtue, how much fun she had and other early projects that appear in her filmography. She also covers having a child and what that did to her career for a while, working at the Crazy Horse nightclub for a spell and then getting back into acting. She shares some memories about what it was like working on some of the Franco films she was involved with, describing the storied director as 'completely crazy' but with a noticeable fondness, working with Howard Vernon, working with Claude Mulot and how she wound up in Sins Of The Flesh and how disjointed he could be during the production, working with Jean-Francois Davy, doing some modelling and being told she looked like a gnome and other highlights from the later part of her career in front of the camera.

    Up next, Gérard Kikoine is interviewed for twenty-seven-minutes in a featurette entitled My Nights with Claude. Here he speaks about why Mulot deserves to be recognized as an important part of French cinema, how they met and became friends, working on Jess Franco's Les Demons, being responsible for dubbing loads of imported pictures, working with Mulot doing the sound on Les Charnelles and his dislike of foley artists and having to sometimes do the work himself, working with Mulot on Pussy Talk, seeing his first hardcore feature in a cinema, some of the quirks involved in doing post production for Mulot, the influence of German cinema and Orson Welles on his own work, doing TV work versus film work, the tricks involved in editing audio in an analogue world and quite a bit more.

    Distributor Francis Mischkind appears in a twenty-four-minute interview entitled Adventures With Alpha France wherein he talks about how the Alpha France company came to exist, his military experience and how that led to working in film ,getting his start mostly working on short films and meeting Claude Mulot when he was still a young man. He then talks about working with Scandinavian distributors on more risqué pictures, distributing pictures by Radley Metzger, launching the Alpha France wave of adult films, bringing Mulot on board to direct, the success of Pussy Talk, the near instant success of their XXX pictures, the advent of France’s X Law and the effect that it had on the business, competition from other distributors in the adult film arena, visiting some of the sets of the films he handled and how it differs from sets in the adult business today, the French censor's reactions to Sins Of The Flesh, Mulot's talents as a filmmaker and how much he enjoyed working with him and more.

    The last of the featurettes is an interview with assistant director Didier Philippe-Gérard that is actually an updated twenty-six-minute version of the interview that Mondo Macabro included on their 2007 DVD release of The Blood Rose. Entitled Profession: Moviemaker, it details the relationship that director’s brother-in-law had with Mulot. He helped write the Blood Rose and went on to star in numerous French adult movies of the era. Gérard talks about his work with Mulot and about the ins and outs (pun intended) of the era of moviemaking in France that he was proud to have been a part of. He talks about working as a technical advisor for Mulot, what Mulot was like to work with, how he and his sister wound up getting married, his background and education, their shared love of American B-movies, what it was like collaborating with the man who became his best friend, Mulot's understanding of genre, comparing Mullot's films to Jean Rollin's pictures, the influence of Franju, the dark side of Mulot's personality, the success of Pussy Talk and why he went back to making B-movies after the porn boom subsided and how he passed away far too young.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are the film’s original trailer (using the Les Charnelles title), a second trailer using the anglicized title of ‘Sex Without Love,’ a two-minute alternate title sequence under which the film is titled Nevro and uses weird video generated text, another alternate title that uses the ‘Émotions secrètes d'un jeune homme de bonne famille’ name for the film, menus and chapter selection options.

    Although this review is based on a BD-R, finished product is set to include reversible cover art, an insert booklet containing new writing on the film by Pete Tombs and a set of postcards featuring original advertising artwork.

    Sins Of The Flesh – The Final Word Review:

    Sins Of The Flesh is one of those wonderfully sleazy European cinematic oddities that really should be better known than it is in cult film circles. It’s trippy, sexy, tense and entertaining from start to finish and Mondo Macabro has really rolled out the red carpet for the Blu-ray release, presenting the film in beautiful shape and with a host of excellent extra features. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Sins Of The Flesh Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Really liked this one. You can definitely see the obvious transition here, the film almost plays out like an Alpha France title, albeit much darker and without the hardcore. Saying that it almost borders on that later on in the film.
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      I just love how their schemes get stupider as they go along. Good twisted fun.