"Les Héroïnes du Mal" (Heroines of Evil) is the original title of this film by Walerian Borowczyk. The film occupies that grey-zone between Arthouse and Softporn. Its theme is of wronged women seeking revenge. However audiences will invariably fixate on Borowczyk's fascination with bestiality. There are three separate stories, lasting roughly 40 minutes each. The first is titled "Margherita" and is set in Renaissance Rome. Poor baker's daughter, Margherita, uses her beauty to bed and kill the rich and powerful men who lust after her. The second, titled "Marceline," is about a young girl who enjoys sexual romps with her pet rabbit. When her repressive and somewhat nutty parents have the rabbit killed and cooked for dinner, she goes berserk, gets the local black butcher to deflower her in the slaughterhouse and then returns home to slice her parents' throats. The third story titled "Marie" is about a young woman who is kidnapped, held for ransom and raped by her captor while her ineffectual husband bumbles around. She is saved by her heroic pet dog who gives her useless husband a bite in the balls for good measure before claiming his reward from the grateful victim.
Needless to say if bestiality offends you, stay away. Personally I didn't find it offensive. However I did find it boring - I actually nodded off halfway through and that is a bad sign for any film. I watched it again on a separate occasion to give it the benefit of the doubt before coming to any conclusion. Parts of it were erotic and production values were generally high. Photography especially was very good. Everything is in soft-focus and filmed under soft lighting. The women are lovely and they are beautifully attired - or not, as the case may be. The film relies on a refreshing Renaissance-style music score, giving it a certain touch of class. However it just didn't come together. The high-art style of erotica, the beautiful photography and the deliberate silliness and implausibility in the screenwriting and plot didn't mesh. The post-production dubbing with poor lip-synching (even in the original French track) didn't help. Well, at least for me. Some viewers might very well enjoy it - as several reviews here attest. It might very well fascinate Americans unfamiliar with the topic and who find the very idea "jaw-dropping" and "ground-breaking".
The sex is not explicit. Neither is there much of it. But it is well done and pretty to look at. The film would garner an NC-17 solely due to the implied bestiality - the closest it actually gets to the real stuff is the little bunny rabbit nibbling on Marceline's luxuriant bush while she writhes in pleasure (a rather cute scene, beautifully photographed) - the dog's high point is biting the husband's balls; we never get to see it having its way with the wife.
Severin of course doesn't disappoint with its lovely and quite flawless transfer of this 1979 film. Colours are mostly pastel-hued but always true and pleasing to the eye. Black level is perfect. The film is presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, pillarboxed into an anamorphic frame (enhanced for widescreen TV). The original French 2.0 Mono track is provided, along with an alternate English 2.0 Mono dub. The sound has good presence and dialogue is clear throughout. Optional English subtitles are also provided. The only Extras are the original theatrical trailer and a biography of Walerian Borowczyk.