Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Karine Gambier, Pamela Stanford, Jack Taylor, Esther Moser, Eric Falk, Marianne Graf, Kurt Meinicke
Length: 87 min
Rating: FSK: 18
Region: Region Free
Label: Ascot Elite Home Entertainment
Release Date: Dec 3, 2013
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: German, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
- Original German trailers
- Image Gallery
Ascot Elite Home Entertainment, a German releasing company, has been doing a terrific job restoring and releasing, on Blu-Ray, a series of sexploitation films that notorious Spanish director Jess Franco made with German exploitation producer Erwin C. Dietrich, between 1976 and 78. The restorations have uniformly been of high caliber, and all the releases are English-friendly. Die Teuflischen Schwestern (Sexy Sisters – 1977) is one of the more intriguing and worthwhile efforts within the Franco/Dietrich oeuvre. For one thing, Dietrich has written a surprisingly compelling screenplay that is leagues ahead of the paper-thin plotlines of Barbed Wire Dolls and Blue Rita. And Franco succeeds in not just telling a coherent story, but in cultivating a sense of mystery—something that too often eludes him.
In a forgotten corner of the Orient, on a wealthy oceanfront estate, the beautiful Countess Edna Von Stein (Pamela Stanford) keeps her younger sister Millie (Karine Gambier), a mentally-ill nymphomaniac, chained up in a room for her own protection. By night, she cruises nightclubs and picks up local studs for sexual encounters at her estate, with either herself, Millie, the servants, or everyone at once. But all is not as it seems. We soon learn that Edna has nefarious designs on her younger sister, who is having strange, sexual hallucinations. What is reality, and what is nightmare, is made appropriately ambiguous—even if Franco does not strictly adhere to Millie’s point of view—thus diminishing some of the tension. Spanish exploitation regular Jack Taylor makes a welcome appearance as the charming doctor who has nefarious designs of his own. His acting is strong, and Franco lets him have fun in the role. The scene where he sticks a thermometer up Millie’s butt while she lies there naked, casually carrying on a conversation with him, is priceless and rather erotic.In fact, this is a rather more erotic film than Franco usually manages to achieve, even if the sex itself isn’t really convincing. A large part of the credit for that goes to Peter Baumgartner’s accomplished cinematography, which manages to avoid most of Franco’s repetitive zooms and general insensitivity to the rhythm of scenes. Of course, credit must also go to the beautiful women who move around mostly naked throughout the film, and to Walter Baumgartner’s jazzy soundtrack, which has a tinge of that wonderful ‘70’s exoticism.
As with other titles we have sampled in Ascot Elite’s Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection, the 1080p presentation of Die Teuflischen Schwestern makes the film look as good as it possibly can, and probably ever will. Color and contrast are strong without looking artificial. The restoration cleans up any obvious damage, such as specs, dirt, and scratches, but leaves fine grain intact, giving the film a wonderful vintage texture. Most of Jess Franco’s films were shot under extremely low-budget conditions, and whatever the visual anomalies that are inherited from such conditions are allowed to remain. This is fortunate because it gives the films a sense of history.
The same comments largely apply to Ascot’s audio restoration. The music track has plenty of clarity and body, but is in no way artificial sounding. For this film, Ascot gives us DTS-HD 5.1 audio tracks in German and English, plus Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks in Spanish and French. They also provide subtitles in Japanese, but not in English, which is a shame.
In terms of extras, this is the least generous release we have sampled from the Golden Goya Collection so far. All we get are the same German trailers (as in the other releases), and a photo gallery. The trailers are admittedly entertaining, with plenty of nudity, but really something more should have been done for this release.
If you a Jess Franco-junkie, Ascot’s Jess Franco Golden Goya Collection will be an enticing proposition, and Die Teuflischen Schwestern is certainly one of Franco’s more compelling and erotic efforts. If you are new to Franco, and are looking for a good introduction to his “art,” either Die Teuflischen Schwestern or Jack the Ripper are good titles to start with. Ascot’s HD restoration and blu-ray presentation continue to impress, so no complaints on technical grounds whatsoever.