Plot: What’s it about?
If you’re a fan of erotic cinema, then prepare to rejoice, as Pathfinder Pictures has just released The French Erotic Collection. A selection of French erotic cinema from the 70s and 80s, this set includes a nice assortment of rare, well handled pictures. This collection includes six discs and two of those are double features, so you’ll find a total of eight movies here and that makes this set an immense value. Not all the films are shown in widescreen or in the original French language, but some are and considering how scarce these movies were before this release, erotic cinema fans should be most satisfied. In addition, these films have never before been available on home video in America, so that means even more interest should be present. I think this set is more than worthwhile for genre fans, as you get eight rare movies for one low price. Below is a brief synopsis of the films found in this terrific collection.
1. Nea: Young Emmanuelle- This film is presented in 1.66:1 non anamorphic widescreen, with a French soundtrack and optional English subtitles. The storyline here deals with a sixteen year old girl involved with a forty year old man, which is sure to offend some folks. Axel Thorpe (Sami Frey) runs a publishing house, where he catches a young girl in the act of shoplifting. She is sixteen year old Sybille (Ann Zacharias), stays out of trouble by bragging about her skills as a writer, so Axel agrees to publish her erotic novel, which she says will be a classic. Although she is a virgin, she manages to write a best selling erotic novel, but she also seeks to gain Axel’s affections. She did a lot of sexual research as she wrote the book, even seducing Axel, but now he has left her for her older sister. Can she hatch a plot to get some payback and regain Axel’s attention?
2. Emilienne- This film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with an English language soundtrack. An obvious attempt to cash in on Emmanuelle’s success, this film stars Betty Mars and has the same kind of structure of that picture. But this movie fails to be as effective, thanks mostly to poor writing and Mars’ lackluster performance. Emilienne (Mars) operates an art gallery where she displays some of her own work, mostly erotic sketches. A young artist named Nouky arrives one day in her gallery, with some impressive artwork of her own. Emilienne doesn’t know her husband has taken on Nouky as a mistress however, so she invites the artist to pose for her, in order to be sketched in the nude. But when passion grows between the two women, is the love triangle doomed to self-destruct?
3. A Woman Possessed- This film is presented in full frame, with a French soundtrack and optional English subtitles. I love movies that involve the supernatural, so of course, I was glad to see such a picture included in this collection. This one is pretty out there, with not only the usual erotic elements, but also some blood, rape, whippings, and even religious content. So don’t expect the traditional erotic effort, but instead a darker, more supernatural production. A man named Laurent seeks to explore the realm of black magic, which means getting involved with a sect of believers. In order to join the sect, he must endure a series of rituals that serve as his initiation, as the sect wants to be sure his interest isn’t a passing state. But when he is forced to have his wife join and she is put through stressful rituals, will he still seek to join the sect?
4. African Thrills & Unsatisfied- These films are presented in full frame, with English language soundtracks. I found both of these movies to be interesting, though The Couples of Boulogne has more spice involved, to be sure. In Africa Thrills, the wilds of Africa provide a beautiful backdrop to some erotic adventures. A photographer is stationed in Hong Kong, but is called to Africa and discovers a world of passion and satisfaction. In The Couples of Boulogne, a couple ventures to Paris in order to settle an inheritance dispute. As they look for the man needed to end the dispute, they find themselves in Boulogne. This place is a nudist colony with open sexuality, a location that couples flock to in large groups. As the couple experiments and indulges in their sexual fantasies, the dispute seems to slip right out of their minds…
5. Secrets of the Satin Blues- This film is presented in 1.66:1 non anamorphic widescreen, with an English language soundtrack. This movie has a lot of comedic elements, including talking underwear and is one of the better movies in this set. The story follows a woman named Elodie (Marcha Grant), who buys a pair of sexy blue underwear, which prove to inspire sexual feelings within anyone who slides into them. The panties start off on Elodie, but soon a friend borrows them, then the maid tries them on, and so on, all of whom find themselves in passionate sexual escapades. This is a fun movie that has some hilarious dialogue, as well as solid sex scenes, so it is a terrific inclusion in this special collection.
6. Awakening of Annie & The Couples of Boulogne- These films are presented in 1.66:1 non anamorphic widescreen, with English language soundtracks. These have quite serious tones, with the first being one of those overly serious erotic efforts and the second trying to be an erotic murder mystery of sorts. In Awakening of Annie, a young girl dreams of finding romance and adventure, but she is inexperienced in such things. She soon finds herself involved in lustful affairs with two men, one a journalist and the other a publisher. In Unsatisfied, a private nurse is killed in the heat of passion by her ailing client. This send the man into a panic, so he turns to his soon to be son-in-law for some help. So the son-in-law enlists his own brother and a resourceful prostitute, but will be enough to save the ill man’s fate?
Video: How does it look?
These movies look better than I expected, given that they’re all imported erotic pictures from the 70s and 80s. I was a little let down to see some weren’t in widescreen, but since a number are shown as such, I won’t raise much of a ruckus. The images look very good on the whole, with minimal scenes that show serious problems. I was quite impressed with the prints used, as there is very little grain, debris, or other signs of wear, which is good news, since some of these films have some years on them. I always lower my expectations a shade when erotic pictures are involved, but Pathfinder has done some terrific work here. The visuals are on the soft side, but that intentional, as these movies are supposed to often be dreamlike, which calls for softened, kind of hazy visuals in most scenes. I also found colors and contrast to be more than solid, which leaves me to grade these with a good overall score.
Audio: How does it sound?
Most of the films have English language tracks, but a couple have the original French soundtrack, so not all is lost. Of course, I would rather have the original language intact on them all, but materials might have been thin on these pictures. The English tracks provide immense amounts of humor, which enhances some of the movies, but alters some of the dramatic ones into all out comedies of errors. As far as technical performance, the soundtracks are basic and don’t do much beyond that, but it proves to be enough. You won’t be dazzled by these tracks, but they’re solid and more than handle the needs of the material.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Each disc in this collection contains an assortment of trailers, which include previews of most of the films included here.