Studio: Mondo Macabro
Theatrical Release: June 19, 1974
DVD Release: October 8, 2013
Director: Jess Franco
Review by James Klein
Jess Franco films are not for everyone. The man had directed over 200 films in his career and in the years of 1973-1974 and also 1983, he had directed over 12 films in those years alone. Most of his films were of the erotic nature but he also dipped into the action and horror genre several times. He even directed films under various pseudonyms. Because of his lengthy directing credits, not all of his films were, well…good. Some were cheap and in his later years most were shot on video. However one of his better films was How to Seduce a Virgin which is now seeing the light of day thanks to Mondo Macabro’s excellent DVD.
This French erotica which was based loosely on the novel by Marquis de Sade, begins with the beautiful Martine (Alice Arno) just getting released from an asylum after spending a year incarcerated for cutting off the penis of one of her ex-lovers. As she goes back to her rich lifestyle and enormous mansion, she is greeted by her servants, one being the space cadet mute Adele (Lina Romay who later became Mrs. Franco). Her husband Charles also greets her with a surprise: he has found their next victim. It seems that Charles and Martine are twisted lovers who kidnap and seduce their victims which are then turned into sex slaves that are kept in their basement.
Charles tells Martine of Cecile (Tania Busselier), a 21 year old virgin whose parents are rich political figures. When the couple watch Cecile masturbate in her room one night with the use of binoculars, the two get turned on and have sex while Adele rubs Martine’s nude fanny. Once this scene happens, one knows if he/she will enjoy How to Seduce a Virgin or at least want to continue watching.
When Cecile’s parents tell Charles and Martine one day that they are going away and that young Cecile doesn’t want to join them, Charles jumps in and offers to take in the young girl into their home. When the parents agree, the plan is set for Charles and Martine to corrupt and destroy this beauty.
As Cecile stays with them, Martine tries hard to seduce Cecile by joining her in the bathtub and convincing Adele to have sex with Cecile which she quickly agrees to do. It seems that the innocent young girl isn’t so innocent after all. When the couple have a drunken sex party, all bets are off and the tables are quickly turned on this couple. In one strange sequence, Martine does a strip tease with a mannequin that looks just like Karen Black! It’s scenes like this that make How to Seduce a Virgin amusing and at times rather funny. Running at just 87 minutes, I actually wanted to see more and was disappointed when the film ended.
How to Seduce a Virgin is a rather graphic soft core film. One can expect plenty of graphic language, full frontal nudity, torture, masturbation, lesbianism and voyeurism. Not for the faint of heart nor is it for those who dislike pubic hair. There is so much wool one can knit a scarf. I was dumbstruck at Tania Busselier’s 70’s bush. It was almost scary looking. And her sex scene with Charles is rather graphic as one gets to see his marble bag pop out from beneath that dark triangle several times. And Franco just loves to zoom in on private parts whenever he gets a chance. He’s like a child who just saw boobs for the first time while zooming in on the goods. I’m not complaining, it’s just funny to me.
Mondo Macabro’s DVD looks great. While the image at times seems to flutter once in awhile, the picture is very clear with an almost blu ray quality. I am also glad to see a Franco film properly subtitled and not dubbed. Included on the DVD is an interview with writer Alain Petit who talks about Franco’s obsession with the Marquis de Sade and an interview with critic Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA about Franco’s career.
For fans of Franco or erotica in general, How to Seduce a Virgin is not to be missed. While it is strange, bizarre and cryptic, it is still one of the director’s better films and can be enjoyed by those with an open mind…or crotch.