Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Seven Women for Satan (1976)

Seven Women for Satan (Les Week-ends maléfiques du Comte Zaroff) is a 1976 French horror film that takes as its starting point the 1932 American movie The Most Dangerous Game, which told the story of an insane nobleman who enjoyed hunting people for sport.

The Count Zaroff of Seven Women for Satan (played by Michel Lemoine who also wrote and directed the film) is superficially far more civilised. He works at an office job in the city, although he lives in an old chateau. He springs from an ancient line of aristocrats who certainly weren’t beyond torturing the local peasantry as a leisure activity (and the chateau has a large and fully equipped torture chamber to prove it) but the current count has abandoned such barbaric pleasures.

The taste for cruelty is still in the blood though, and the count’s butler Karl (whose family has served the counts for generations) is determined to re-awaken this instinct. He promised his father on his deathbed that he would encourage the young count to keep up the family tradition of murder, mayhem and torture. And the count, on the surface rather meek and mild and even perhaps a tad oversensitive, does have dreams that involve hunting down and slaughtering young women on horseback.

Under Karl’s influence the count’s sanity starts to crumble, and he is haunted by visions of his now deceased former girlfriend, and there are hints he may in fact have been involved in some way in her death. The line between reality and his violent fantasies becomes increasingly blurred. Lemoine and Howard Vernon (as Karl) give fine performances and it’s a fairly effective piece of horror film-making. Guy Bonnet’s truly bizarre score is also an asset.

The picture quality is acceptable although not as pristine as the other Mondo Macabro releases I’ve seen, and the DVD includes a very good interview with Lemoine who is both charming and fascinating. Seven Women for Satan is both less weird and less interesting than some of the other eurohorror being produced in the mid-70s but it should still satisfy most eurohorror fans. But be warned, this movie contains large amounts of gratuitous go-go dancing.

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