Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Seduce a Virgin (Jess Franco, 1974)

Somewhere near the middle of Jess Franco's How to Seduce a Virgin (a.k.a. Plaisir à trois), I thought to myself: Hmm, if Lina Romay's character continues to wear the same black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings from start to finish, I'm going to have to declare this to be one of the greatest Jess Franco movies in existence. Which is high praise, especially when you consider the fact that he made eleven films in 1973 (I know, eleven... it's not even funny). And when I saw that Lina Romay's Adèle, the world's most adorable live-in sex slave, was in fact wearing the same black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings throughout the entirety this film, its exalted status was instantly carved in stone. Though, there was a moment when I thought for sure that Lina Romay would be seen without her trademark black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings. It occurs when Lina, along with Alice Arno and Robert Woods, are seen riding horses. When I saw this I was like, well, it was fun while it lasted. I mean, what kind of person wears black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings while horseback riding? It's true, most people don't wear black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings while horseback riding. But, and I think you know what I'm about to say... That's right, Lina Romay isn't most people and don't you forget it.

Cobbling together the same cast that starred in Countess Perverse, and adding Alfred Baillou as Malou the gardener for good measure, the film, like most Jess Franco's work from this period, features a small group of amoral characters living together in an insular universe where nothing is sacred, and your orgasm is paramount.

Hold up, I just remembered something important in relation to Lina Romay's black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings. Are you sitting down? Lina Romay's black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings are covered in runs. And, no, I'm not talking about some slight structural damage that can only be seen from certain angles. Uh-uh, these runs are serious business.

Tearing up and down the entire length of her black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings, Lina Romay's nylon scars were attained not by lounging around in a lackadaisical, albeit, leggy manner, but by engaging in multiple acts of unadulterated debauchery. Each run on her black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings has borne witness to hours of rough lesbian sex, a shitload of impromptu groping, several whipping sessions, and even a smidgeon of mannequin-based cunnilingus. In other words, each run on her black, do-it-yourself stockings tells a story, an erotic story.

Judging by the puzzled looks on some of your faces whenever I say the "do-it-yourself" part in black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings, it's obvious that there are a handful of you out there that don't know exactly what I'm getting at when I say, "do-it-yourself."

If any of you have ever read my reviews of Jess Franco's movies in the past, you probably know exactly what I'm referring to when I say, "do-it-yourself." But for those who haven't, it's simple, really. Instead of using suspenders attached to a garter belt or purchasing stockings with a built-in elastic, Lina Romay's Adèle has elected to use twine to keep her stockings up. Hence, my calling them "do-it-yourself" hold-up stockings. Any questions? Good.

Oh, wait, before I move on. I loved how Adèle didn't bother to cut away the excess pieces of twine that dangled haphazardly from the point where the twine was tied (she clearly used more twine than need be). It was a very shrewd move on someone's part, as Adèle is not the type of person who worries about what other people think. And not having the excess pieces of twine cut away totally reflected the off-kilter mental temperament of her character.

When you can't afford to buy a fancy garter belt or if you happen to think elastic is the work of the Devil: Choose twine.

Declared a "fascinating subject" by her psychiatrist (Joaquín Blanco), Martine Bressac (Alice Arno), who is wearing a green head scarf, is released from a mental institution. How long she was in there is not clear... Or maybe it was clear and I just wasn't paying attention. Either way, told that, "Everything's going to be fine," Martine is driven home by Mathias (Howard Vernon), her chauffeur.

As he's driving her, we get a quick flashback that involves a naked Martine slashing a man's genitals with a razor-blade as he slept. The moment she slashes his junk, we get a nice shot of crimson crotch blood splashing across her stomach. The contrast between Martine's blonde pussy hair and the unnamed man's bright red dick blood was quite beautiful.

This scene proves that Martine's stay at the mental institution was for more than just exhaustion. No, this Martine chick has some serious emotional problems, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Who wants to watch a Jess Franco movie about a bunch of sane, well-balanced people who don't keep posed dead bodies in their basement? I know I sure don't.

Arriving at the Bressac villa, which is in the Canary Islands, Martine is greeted by Malou the gardener and Adèle (Lina Romay), a mute woman who, as we'll soon find out, provides a unique service for the Bressac family. As is the case with her black stockings, Adèle's indigo mini-smock is cinched at the waist with a piece of twine.

Handed a key by Adèle, Martine races downstairs (a flight of stairs without a banister) to visit her "museum." The reason I put "museum" in quotes is because this isn't your average museum. Boasting human subjects who seem frozen in time, Martine inspects The Dirty No Ass Chick (a dirt covered woman with hardly any booty), The Emerald Shirt-Coffin Pose Woman and The Naked Claw Hand Lady.

Itching to add another woman to her collection, Martine cruises the streets in search of hookers. Spotting one in a sea green baby-doll dress carrying an exaggerated poodle purse, Martine tells Mathias to pull over. Convincing her come by the villa to pose for some etchings, Martine wastes little time getting the hooker into her basement.

If you must be a man, looking like Robert Woods the way he does in How to Seduce a Virgin is a start. Not only is he one handsome motherfucker, he's got a great sense of style. He plays Charles Bressac, Martine's husband, and judging by the fact that he sneaks up on Martine moments after she puts the final touches on the dead hooker she just added to her messed up museum, it would seem that he's cool with his wife's unorthodox hobby.

And why wouldn't he be? After all, he's got a bit of an unorthodox hobby as well. Showing a slideshow pertaining to a 21 year-old virgin named Cécile (Tania Busselier), Charles informs Martine that he plans on giving her to her as a present.

Except instead of merely kidnapping her, Charles and Martine plan on luring Cécile to their villa via chicanery. But first they must get a better look at the merchandise. Renting an apartment across the street from her parent's house, Martine, Charles and Adèle spy on Cécile.

While Martine and Charles are checking Cécile out, you'll notice that Lina Romay is sitting exactly the same way Soledad Miranda does throughout Eugénie de Sade. I chose to view this as Jess Franco's subtle tribute to the late actress. It's also fitting because this film was Lina's first substantial role in a Jess Franco movie.

To say that Cécile has a full bush would be an understatement. No, what Cécile is packing between her legs is an exorbitant amount of bush. You could call it a mega-bush, but let's not be crass.

Watching Cécile writhe on her bed in an erotic fashion through a pair of binoculars, Martine and Charles are so excited by what they see, the couple have fully-clothed, European stand-up intercourse.

Somehow managing to convince Cécile's parents into letting their daughter stay with them while they're away, Martine and Charles are this close to capturing their prey.

To celebrate this closeness, Martine and Charles watch Cécile writhe on her bed one more time. If you thought Tania Busselier's erotic writhing was hot the first time around, you ain't seen nothing yet. Adding a belly chain and an anklet to the mix, Cécile is a leggy force of nature, as she squirms and kicks her way to attaining a first-rate orgasm. As Cécile's shapely calves pierce the night air with a resounding swoosh, Charles says, while caressing Martine's nipples, "This girl was born to be corrupted by us."

It looks like I wasn't kidding around when I said Robert Woods' Charles Bressac has a great sense of style. The sight of him wearing purple trousers, a purple jacket, and a yellow shirt while talking on a brown phone was so chic it literally hurt. Things get even more chic later on when we see in a trouser vest combination that boasts a print so insane it defies description. 

No slouch when it comes to fashion, Martine wears a slit-heavy garment at one point that comes close to out-slitting the slit-heavy garment she wore in Countess Perverse.

When Cécile finally arrives at the Bressac villa, Martine tries seduce her while she's taking a bath. This attempt goes well at first, but Martine takes things too far (she allowed Martine to grope her soap-covered tiny breasts, but drew the line at soapy pussy touching). After things cool off a bit, Adèle takes a crack at seducing Cécile and hits vaginal pay-dirt almost immediately.

Whether Martine will get another crack at caressing any of Cécile's comely crevices is hard to say. I do know this, however, in terms of Jess Franco films that are inspired by the works of the Marquis de Sade, you can't beat How to Seduce a Virgin, as all the elements are here. Black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings; black, do-it-yourself hold-up stockings covered in runs; garments with massive slits, an exotic location, mini-dresses, whippings (Martine rewards Adèle for her service by whipping her); lesbianism, a hint of Robert Woods' scrotum (a whiff of balls, if you will); castration; tan pantyhose; creepy gardeners; mannequins, belly chains; anklets; flute music; voyeurism a go-go; and female pubic hair.

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