99 Women Unrated Director's Cut: Limited Edition – Blue Underground (Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo)
Theatrical Release Date: Spain/Italy/West Germany/UK, 1969
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Harry Alan Towers, Jesús Franco, Milo G. Cuccia, Carlo Fadda, Javier Péres Grober
Cast: Maria Schell, Herbert Lom, Mercedes McCambridge, Luciana Paluzzi, Maria Rohm, Rosalba Neri, Elisa Montés, Valentina Godoy, Jesús Franco
Release Date: December 13th, 2016
Approximate Running Time: 89 Minutes 34 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: OOP
"For his epic shocker of caged women gone wild, legendary director Jess Franco (MARQUIS DE SADE’S JUSTINE) brought together a once-in-a-lifetime cast of International beauties including Maria Schell (THE ODESSA FILE), Luciana Paluzzi (THUNDERBALL), Rosalba Neri (LADY FRANKENSTEIN) and Maria Rohm (VENUS IN FURS). Oscar(r) winner Mercedes McCambridge (JOHNNY GUITAR) and Herbert Lom (THE DEAD ZONE) 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!" - synopsis provided by the distributor
Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “Brand new 4K restoration.”
99 Women Unrated Director's Cut comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 20.1 GB
Feature: 15.6 GB
For this release, a brand new 4K transfer was created. Just like Marquis de Sade’s Justine and Eugenie... the Story of Her Journey into Perversion, this release has been given an extensive makeover, and though this is the best 99 Women has looked to date on home video, image clarity, color saturation, and black levels have been improved. Unfortunately, this transfer uses digital noise reduction, which takes away from these improvements.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. There are no issues with distortion or background noise; dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The score sounds appropriately robust, and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. This release comes with three subtitle options: English SDH, French, and Spanish.
Extras for this release include a poster & stills gallery, a theatrical trailer (1 minute 42 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), three deleted/alternate scenes (There is text a text explanation before each one these scenes) – Marie’s flashback (4 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Zoie’s flashback (16 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), and extended ending (1 minute 34 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), an interview with author Stephen Thrower the author of Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco tilted Jess, Harry & 99 Women (16 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with director Jess Franco titled Jess’ Women (17 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), reversible cover art, a CD that contains the score for the film and a twenty page book with cast & crew info, an essay titled Prison Inspection Case #99: Jess Franco written by Stephen Thrower and information about the CD that contains the score.
Included with this release is a DVD that has the same content as the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release.
With 99 Females, Jess Franco would unleash upon the world a more depraved version of the WIP films than had ever been seen to that point. And though Franco has often returned to the WIP genre, there is something magical about 99 Women, his first foray into this genre.
From a production standpoint, 99 Women does not disappoint or come up short in any area. The novel is anchored by a solid premise; the narrative is well constructed; and when it comes to pacing, the narrative moves along at a good pace. The 99 Women features a remarkable score from Bruno Nicolai (Marquis de Sade’s Justine, Eugenie... the Story of Her Journey into Perversion) that perfectly captures the mood of the story at hand.
Not to be overlooked are the visuals, which once again are filled with Jess Franco’s usual trademark shots and other artistic flourishes that heighten the impact of what is occurring onscreen. Two of the more memorable moments include the two flashback scenes. With Marie’s flashback scene overflowing with surrealism and Zo’s flashback scene as a nightclub dancer, foreshadowing a similar moment from Vampyros Lesbos.
Though Jess Franco, in his post, Harry Alan Towers films, would work with a core group of actors and actresses throughout the 1970’s. There is no denying Harry Alan Towers' ability to draw name actors and actresses to the nine films he made with Jess Franco. With that being said, the performances in 99 Women rank amongst the best to ever appear in a Jess Franco film.
Front and center among these performances are Mercedes McCambridge (All the King’s Men) in the role of the warden and Herbert Lom (A Shot in the Dark) in the role of Governor Santos. Other notable performances include Luciana Paluzzi (A Black Veil for Lisa) as Natalie, a heroin addict; Rosalba Neri (Top Sensation) as Zoie, a former nightclub dancer convicted of killing her boss; and Maria Rohm (Venus in Furs) as Marie, the young woman who was assaulted by a group of bikers and killed one of them. Ultimately, 99 Women is a solid exploitation film that has all the hallmarks that are synonymous with the cinema of Jess Franco.
99 Women gets a strong release from Blue Underground that comes with a CD with the score and a wealth of extras, recommended.
Written by Michael Den Boer