Release Date(s)1976/1978 (February 11, 2022)
Studio(s)General Films/Les Films de Marc (Peekarama/Vinegar Syndrome)
- Film/Program Grade: N/A
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: C+
- Overall Grade: B-
Patrice Rhomm, whom deep-seated genre fans will recognize as the co-writer of 1964’s Shadow of Evil and 1971’s The Devil’s Nightmare, made several erotic films throughout the 1970s, mixing sex with horror in surprisingly artistic ways. Among them are 1976’s Draguse (aka Draguse or the Infernal Mansion) and 1978’s Le Bijou D’Amour (The Gem of Love). The former features a story about a man writing erotic novels who winds up in the clutches of a witch while the latter is about a man who finds himself trapped by succubi after receiving a mysterious ring. Both films offers a stimulating tableau of sensuality, the fantastic, and horror influences, making them an interesting double feature, as well as a snapshot of late 1970s French erotica.
Draguse was shot by director of photography Johan Vincent on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama line brings the film to Blu-ray from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. It’s presented here under the title Les Perversions Lubriques and is a beautifully-detailed presentation. The opening titles feature heavy grain, but the picture evens out afterwards with mild grain and high levels of detail, right down to strands of hair, the city streets and signage, and various objects. The color palette offers bold swatches of red, blue, and green, with natural flesh tones, while blacks are deep with excellent shadow detail. The image is stable with only mild speckling and scratches leftover. There are also a couple of brief moments when the negative appears weak since delineation changes, but for the most part, everything appears crisp and organic.
Le Bijou D’Amour was shot by director of photography Alain Hardy on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama line brings the film to Blu-ray from an existing 4K scan. The text before the film begins informs us that “extensive additional color grading and restoration was performed, but certain image stability issues are inherent in the scan and could not be rectified.” Thankfully, said instability isn’t that intrusive. It’s an otherwise healthy and detail-laden master with solid levels of mild grain. The color palette offers a variety of strong hues with natural flesh tones. Speckling and occasional scratches are present, but the clarity in the image is terrific.
Audio for both films is included in French mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English, though they play automatically when starting the film. Both tracks are clean with good fidelity. Dialogue, including overdubs, is clear and precise. The scores have a bit of boost to them, though sound effects are a tad lacking. However, nothing is out of the ordinary.
DRAGUSE (VIDEO/AUDIO): A-/B
LE BIJOU D’AMOUR (VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B
Both films are included on the same Blu-ray, which sits inside a clear amaray case with a double-sided insert, both the front and back featuring artwork that resembles French double-bill posters. Everything is housed within a limited slipcover featuring both films’ respective artworks on the front and back. The following extras are included:
- Interview with Draguse Actress Monica Swinn (SD – 39:21)
- Interview with Draguse Actress Erika Cool (SD – 11:58)
- Eric de Winter: a propose de Draguse ou Le Manoir Infernal (SD – 14:10)
- Le Bijou D’Amour Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:26)
- Bonus Scene for Le Bijou D’Amour (HD – 2:02)
In the interview with Monica Swinn, she discusses her career and experiences in retrospect since she no longer acts. She talks about her theater background, working with Jess Franco, being young and rebellious, reshooting films to add hardcore elements, becoming a writer, censorship, storytelling in erotic films, other filmmakers of the era, and how she feels today about appearing in these films. In the interview with Erika Cool, she talks about how she got her start, how she came to be involved with Draguse, working with Patrice Rhomm and various cast members, not appearing in very many films, other filmmakers she’s worked with, and using a pseudonym. In the interview with production manager Eric de Winter, he and his on-camera interviewer leap from subject to subject, mostly discussing de Winter’s career and the film’s that he’s worked on. As de Winter was quite old at the time, the interviewer does the majority of talking. Next is the theatrical trailer and a bonus pornographic scene for Le Bijou D’Amour, which was not in the final film.
The Peekarama line of titles from Vinegar Syndrome continue to highlight titillating films from various decades, paying particular attention to French hardcore and softcore pornography with Draguse and Le Bijou D’Amour, two films that fans of classic erotica will certainly want to see.
- Tim Salmons