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99 Women (Blu-ray Review)

One week later and here I am doing more Jess Franco. Granted, a HUMONGOUS sigh of relief as this is not another Fu Manchu movie. I’ve had enough of those for a lifetime, with the caveat that I only want to see it again if its done by Rifftrax or MST3K in a (hopefully) 12th season. His women in prison movie had long been censored throughout the world, but Blue Underground swings in to save the day by making this Blu-ray edition the uncut version of the film. It comes with a slew of extras in a combo pack with a DVD. And in a smooth move, the film comes with a CD featuring the soundtack of the movie.

Film 

For his epic shocker of caged women gone wild, legendary director Jess Franco brought together a once-in-a-lifetime cast of International beauties including Maria Schell, Luciana Paluzzi, Rosalba Neri and Maria Rohm. Oscar winner Mercedes McCambridge and Herbert Lom co-star as the sadistic wardens of an island prison where abused yet luscious young lovelies surrender to their own depraved desires. Behind bars… without men… experience the unchained passion of 99 WOMEN!

Okay Jess Franco fans, here’s a women in prison movie from him. Unlike Love Camp 7, Franco is all the difference in one of these prison movies been a complete waste of time and “at some point slightly fun”. What Franco brings is a sense of real cinema to this. There’s attention to characters and something of a plot that really give this one some sort of drive. Franco also has a bit of a visual eye and is able to make these women appear very sexy. He also makes the scenes of erotica much more…well…erotica.

While yeah, a bunch of naked feisty women was probably a fantastic thing to my young self, in my older age, I’ve found it pretty boring. Even though Franco has crafted something infinitely more watchable than a lot of junk of this ilk. The film does feature a nice little escape to finish out. But still, this is a 90 minute movie that feels like 2 full hours.

Jess Franco makes a women in prison movie in the vein of his talents. So, if you’re familiar with his work and a fan, you’re surely going to find some enjoyment here. For a women in prison movie, its one with at least some artistic flair and it seems to want to give attention to character and plot. The erotic nature of it actually does come across as sexy in comparison to just being there and dirty like others. Maybe, just maybe, this is the female prison movie for you!

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail: It appears this film received a 4K restoration for this new transfer. It does look quite good and solid (Not as good as Love Camp 7 looked). Its not the best I imagine it could be, but its still a cut above many others. Details are strong on castle walls as well as just a lot of good things in nature. There are some instances of smoothness here or there. Details for the most part are intact and strong.

Depth:  Dimensional work is pretty solid, characters are easily free of their background which does feel a bit in the distance. Movements are cinematic and smooth  with no distortion because of jitters or blurring on fast movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich, holding on to textures/patterns/detail while also providing some great shade and added definition onto the image. No crushing was witnessed during the viewing for the review of this Blu-ray.

Color Reproduction: Being an old prison movie, there’s not much to writer home about here. The palette on brown is petty rock solid. Grays look really good as does the blond hair. Everything else is very earthy, old school and natural.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the film’s length. Facial features such as blemishes, make-up, scars, lip texture, glistening sweat, dirt and scarring comes through pretty clearly.

Noise/Artifacts:  Aside from a thing layer of grain this is pretty clean.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: 99 Women comes with a solid, mono track that does carry an analog hiss on it for the full movie. It does have some good sound effects still present. Its not going set the world on fire, but the clarity of the mix and the detail still there on the sound track are pretty nice on the ears and a bit impressive.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and audible, an analog his present the entire time.

Extras 

99 Women is a 3-Disc set that comes with the DVD edition and a CD featuring the soundtrack to the film. It also features a reversible cover and a collectible booklet with an essay by Stephen Thrower.

Jess’ Women (SD, 17:32) – An interview with director Jess Franco. The director goes over the film from its inception on The Girl From Rio through production and hits upon censorship and shooting erotic sequences and more.

Jess, Harry & 99 Women (HD, 16:26) – An interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of “Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco”.  Thrower focuses on Franco’s relationship with the film’s producer and all the films they made together.

Deleted & Alternate Scenes (HD, 22:57) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:42) 

Still Gallery (HD, 1:13) 

Summary 

99 Women was a women in prison movie that actually felt like it was crafted by a real filmmaker and like it wanted to be a bit of a real movie. This Blu-ray is the real deal though, coming with some terrific supplements and then a booklet and soundtrack to go with it. The restoration image quality is pretty good and the audio is okay, too. Jess Franco fans and the women in cages/prison lovers should likely be interested in this one.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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