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Synapse Films presents
Bacchanales Sexuelles (1973)

"Traitor. My little traitor. You feel so cold against my body, as cold as a dead reporter. I'll find out who you are and have my way with you before killing you."
- Malvina (Brigitte De Borghese)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: January 01, 2003

Stars: Joelle Coeur, Brigitte De Borghese, Britt Anders, Marie-France Morel
Other Stars: Annie Belle, Willy Braque, Catherine Castel, Alain Bastin, Jenny Trochu
Director: Jean Rollin

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, sadomasochistic abuse, catfighting maids)
Run Time: 01h:41m:55s
Release Date: December 17, 2002
UPC: 654930302293
Genre: late night

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C-D+C- D-

DVD Review

Director Jean Rollin is best known for his long-running and only vaguely connected series of vampire films. However, during the 1970s he turned his talents for the portraying the implied eroticism of vampires toward the directly erotic. This picture from 1973, also known as Fly Me the French Way, is his first venture into adult films, and as such bears the directorial pseudonym Michel Gentil.

The plot, such as it is, tends toward the outright goofy. Malvina (Brigitte De Borghese) is the head of a sex cult that is in the process of being exposed by a member who is also an investigative reporter. Malvina only knows the address of the reporter, and not his identity or his likeness. The reporter (never shown or even named) has asked his cousin Valerie (Brigitte Coeur) to watch his apartment for six months. Valerie, lonely in his immense place, calls on her friend Sophie (Marie-France Morel) to stay with her and have some lesbian fun. The cult swoops in that night and kidnaps Sophie, believing her to be Valerie. Sophie's sex-crazed friend Fred comes over and after frolicking with Valerie, the pair of them stumble onto the existence of the plot and the cult, largely through the ineptitude of a cult agent, Jenny (Jenny Trochu, billed simply as Jenny), posing as the maid. Taking the law into their own hands to rescue Sophie, the intrepid pair head out to the villa of Malvina.

If one were to cut out the sex scenes, the story here would run about half an hour, which probably isn't bad in porn. Accordingly, the picture needs to be judged on its own terms, as a piece of soft-core from the 1970s. As such, it delivers the goods well enough. The women are definitely attractive, and unlike their modern direct-to-video counterparts, not pumped up with silicone nor coated with tattoos or piercings. Those who prefer their women in a natural state will be pleased with this offering. True to his erotic vampirical beginnings, Rollin does have a way with a lyrical camera even during a fairly histrionic and pedestrian sex sequence. The naughty bits have a serious erotic charge to them for late night viewing pleasure. Most notable is the bit where Valerie paints herself with jam to entice Fred; languid in the pacing, it has a definite heat. To spice things up there's even a brief S&M sequence, surely cut from the American release.

Joelle Coeur is an appealing star, and was briefly a featured player in Eurosmut during the 1970s in such titles as I am Frigid...Why?. She also starred in this same year in Rollin's The Demoniacs. De Borghese is an intimidating figure, a veritable Amazon standing at least a head taller than the rest of the cast. In her first film role, she gives Malvina a delightful wickedness that is one of the highlights of the picture. The rest of the cast is fairly nondescript. The music is typical porn background and undistinguished in any way.

Intriguing for its peculiar storyline, it's hard to recommend this for any but the most dyed-in-the-wool Rollin fan who has to have everything. But it does make for a good alternative to the artificial ladies of modern softcore.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 1.66:1 transfer has some problems, most notable of which is severe pixelation that gives the film a screen-door appearance. While this might not be noticeable on smaller displays, it is a serious irritation on a larger one, and quite below Synapse's usually high standards of quality. Beyond that, colors are quite good, and shadow detail is decent considering the cheap circumstances under which this must have been filmed. Detail is okay for the most part, though don't expect startling clarity. Black levels are solid. Most of the source print is in very good condition, although it is a little ragged around the reel ends, with significant damage present.

[Editor's note: Synapse President Don May Jr. offers this response: "The source prints of the original uncut version were all gone. The only thing that survived of this original version was an older PAL master that we had to use.

Instead of releasing the horrible cut badly dubbed English version, which was missing close to a half hour, we decided this was the way to go. According to the film's original producer, who gave us the master, this is the only thing he had left. That's all that exists, so we had to use it. People who have seen the horrible bootleg version of the longer cut have actually PRAISED the disc because it's so much better than what they were used to seeing.

The graininess of the image might also be from the fact that the original was shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm for release.

The film will never look any better than this, unfortunately. I believe even the original negative has been lost. Working with Rollin's material has always been a pleasure and I trust the producer is telling me the truth on this one. I mean, look at GRAPES OF DEATH and you will see a huge difference, but BACCHANALES is "technically" a lost film.

Sometimes these little cult items have to be presented in the only way they can be. If anything else existed, believe me, I would've used it."]

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The original French 2.0 mono track is acceptable, though the music is for the most part lacking in depth and richness. Dialogue and foley effects are quite clear. There is some minor hiss and noise present, again not surprising considering what this is. There are two brief audio dropouts present.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras are present. Chaptering is adequate. The new subtitles provided by Synapse are removable.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

An odd little Euro sex romp, with an unfortunately disappointing transfer, a most unusual lapse for Synapse. For Rollin completists only.


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