Venus in Furs (Paroxismus) (1969)
Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Poster And Stills
Trailer-Vampyros Lesbos, Daughters Of Darkness, Possession
Trailer-Big Doll House
|Year Of Production||1969|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Jesus Franco|
Richard M. Sherman
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
A young man walking along a beach near Istanbul digs up his trumpet, which he has buried there for no apparent reason. The man, one Jimmy Logan (James Darren), then spots a body in the surf. It's a beautiful young woman who seems to have been stabbed to death. Then Jimmy recalls a party he was at recently where the young woman appeared, and was taken into another room by three of the partygoers and there whipped and otherwise sexually handled. The three partygoers are led by a multimillionaire (Klaus Kinski) and include Dennis Price and Margaret Lee.
Travelling to Rio to escape his inner demons, Jimmy is talked back in performing by singer girlfriend Rita (Barbara McNair). One night a woman who is the spitting image of the girl on the beach walks into the room, and Jimmy is smitten. Soon he is in bed with her. She turns out to be Wanda Reed (Maria Rohm), which is the name of the girl who was killed. But Jimmy doesn't seem to mind that she might be a ghost. In fact, she has risen from the dead to wreak revenge on those who killed her.
This is apparently cited as one of prolific Euro-trash director Jess Franco's best films, and it does have a dreamy quality. However, it is a little confusing at times and does not seem to be quite sure of what sort of movie it is. The ludicrous ending does not help, nor does the narration by Jimmy which includes some unfortunate 1960s dialogue. That sort of thing just isn't my bag, man. The film was produced by Harry Allan Towers, of the Fu Manchu series, of which Franco directed a couple of entries. Presumably he had a hand in the screenplay, though five hands are credited including the director. There is plenty of nudity of the upper body type, though by all accounts the exposure is not up to the usual Franco standards (some of his works include hardcore material). The IMDb lists some 186 movies and straight-to-video works that he has directed from 1967 to date, and he is the subject of something of a cult. I have seen about ten of these movies and I have yet to work out what the attraction is.
Sixties heartthrob Darren (Moondoggie in the Gidget movies) isn't bad, but Rohm is somewhat plastic. Kinski is only in the movie briefly, like a lot of his work, and Price looks like he was dying for a drink. Actually, this was literally true I think, as his alcoholism led to his early death just four years later. While this is of a particular style of 1960s films that has dated badly, it is actually one of the better ones of its type, and seems less haphazard than some of Franco's works that I have seen. Fans of the director will undoubtedly want this, but the general public may not take to it. Incidentally, the title comes from the infamous 19th century novel by Sacher-Masoch, from whose name the term "masochism" comes, but the movie has no other relationship to the book. The title was forced on the film by the American distributors apparently.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I doubt whether this is the original aspect ratio, though our usual reference (the IMDb) is silent on this matter. Quite a few shots seem very tight, so possibly this has been cropped from 1.66:1 rather than 1.85:1. Or else it has been matted from a full-frame original. At least one review of the American release cites the original aspect ratio as 1.85:1, so I will go with that in the absence of any definite information.
I was expecting this to be yet another NTSC to PAL conversion, but this time the transfer seems quite good. The video is sharp and there is a good amount of detail, so much so that I do not recall being distracted by a lack of clarity at any time. Shadow detail is acceptable, and contrast levels are good. The transfer is quite bright, and this helps with the colour. Perhaps reds are a little saturated, but flesh tones are good (just as well, as there is a lot of flesh to behold). Blacks and whites are well rendered.
The only significant film to video artefact I noticed was edge enhancement, for example at 68:40. There is some minor telecine wobble. There are rather too many film artefacts, often in the form of a shower of short vertical scratches. The level of these varies from shot to shot, and some shots are virtually without them. There are also reel change markings, for example at 19:50 and 34:45.
The disc is dual-layered but there does not seem to be a layer break during the movie, and there are no subtitles.
The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0, which appears to be mono and is an English dub. Darren's voice is apparently his own, but Kinski's is not.
Dialogue is clear and audible throughout. All of the dialogue seems to be looped, so audio sync is approximate. I only occasionally found it distracting. There is some minor distortion from time to time but nothing significant. The music sounds a little boxy.
The music is by Manfred Mann and Mike Hugg. I assume the Mann contribution is mainly the songs which are very late 1960s, almost in jazz fusion style. Mann also appears in some of the nightclub sequences as one of the band. Apparently Jess Franco is also in the band, though I would not know him from a bar of soap.
|Surround Channel Use|
Some of the score can be heard with the static menu.
A number of stills, plus one poster and a lobby card.
A somewhat lurid US trailer with narration from an Orson Welles sound-alike.
Four trailers for other Umbrella releases.
The US Region 1 sounds as though it has the same video issues as the Region 4. However, the Region 4 misses out on:
The Region 1 looks to be the goods for Franco aficionados.
Not the worst horror film I have seen, but certainly not in the top league. This sort of thing has an audience and I expect that Umbrella and other distributors will continue to release works by this prolific Spanish director.
The video quality is quite good.
The audio quality is average.
Some minor extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|