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Anchor Bay presents
Immoral Tales (1974)

"We're not here for fun, but for your education; now you know the significance of tides."
- The Boy (Fabrice Luchini)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: June 29, 2000

Stars: Paloma Picasso
Other Stars: Lise Danvers, Charlotte Alexandra, Florence Bellamy, JacopoBerinzini, Lorenzo Berinzini
Director: Walerian Borowczyk

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for full frontal nudity, sexual situations, sexual content, violence
Run Time: 01h:42m:45s
Release Date: July 05, 2000
UPC: 013131107999
Genre: late night

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C+B+C+ D+

DVD Review

Back in 1974, when this film was released, I would often hear about the racy foreign films, and as a curious adolescent would try to see them whenever I could. Invariably, they were disappointing affairs that contained little erotic content and seemed to be nothing by hype.

Immoral Tales lives up to that reputation, and then some, in this new uncut and uncensored DVD. Four 'tales' are presented, each with a slightly different erotic take, but all of them featuring scads of female nudity and eroticism to spare. I put 'tales' in quotations, because these episodes are rather short on plot, existing mainly for the displays of nubile young women who are so prominently featured.

The first episode, The Tide, features male and female cousins, aged 20 and 16 respectively, and their sexual explorations on a beach as the tide cuts them off from the mainland. A subtext deals with the manipulation of the younger girl by her older cousin, as he recites the science of the tides to her while she gratifies him. Therese the Philosopher centers on young Therese (Charlotte Alexandra), who is late coming home from church, since she finds nearly all of the accoutrements sexually exciting, fondling the organ pipes and the brass candlesticks. Locked in her room as punishment, she continues to fantasize about the church while she abuses the three zucchini which were left her for her dinner. Erzsebet Bathory illustrates an episode in the life of thermal Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory (Paloma Picasso) who believed that bathing in virgins' blood would give her eternal youth. Of course, in Borowczyk's reading, they are only loosely to be considered virgins, since there is an enormous lesbian orgy, with extensive episodes of showering. They must be clean, certainly. The final and briefest episode, Lucrezia Borgia features more incest, this time between the title character (Florence Bellamy), her brother, and their father, who happens to be pope. Surely there is something here to offend everyone.

The level of sexual content is somewhat stronger than soft core porn, yet it is clearly not hard core, either. There is extensive (indeed, nearly constant) full frontal nudity, but no visible penetration. The content is highly erotic, and the film would be suitable for broad-minded couples to entertain themselves with. The acting is difficult to judge in a film of this type; it seems to be more or less competent, though much of the emotional content is created by the camera rather than the actors.

The elderly, such as your reviewer, will recall the cause celebre regarding this film, and its star, Paloma Picasso, daughter of the famous painter. She is unfortunately the least attractive woman in the film, so the filial connection is the only point which will really give interest to her performance.

Ultimately, the centering on sexuality to the exclusion of most everything else tends to harm the substance rating somewhat. However, Borowczyk (buy that man a vowel) does an admirable job of painting a picture of less inhibited times,several hundred years ago (only The Tide is set in the modern day). His focus is to make it clear that mankind is little different from the animals; even as the young women are being harvested from the village by Elizabeth Bathory, we see chickens copulating.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image is in a perpetual soft focus, but this is clearly intentional. The colors tend to be pastel and a little dated-looking. There are not many blacks, but the ones there are tend to be solid and rich. Skin tones appear to be naturalistic but slightly light in tone. The source material is fully restored and appears nearly flawless. The 1.66:1 picture is presented in an non-anamorphic transfer (although the case states that it is anamorphic); the bit rate is a decent 5 Mbps. Shadow detail is good.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrench, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is an undistinguished 2.0 mono on both the French and English tracks. The music, partly original and partly period, comes through well in general, although in a couple instances it sounds slightly muffled. Dialogue is clear although somewhat ADR-sounding. The range is quite limited, but you're probably not watching this for the sound anyway.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The extras are scanty; we get an English-language trailer from the original (cut)US release. The trailer is noisy and crackly, making one appreciate the sound quality on the film even more. There is also a biography, with a brief filmography, of Borowczyk. The subtitles are unfortunately burned into the picture; thus even when watching the English dub you still have the subtitles.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Immoral Tales is a well-crafted piece of Euro-erotica that will titillate all but the most jaded. On this ground it succeeds admirably, though short on plot and extras. The uncut, uncensored and restored print makes it particularly enjoyable. Those who like seeing nude young women, at great length, will find quite a lot to like here. Those who are offended by sexual content or blasphemy will want to stay far, far away.


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