In my time of reviewing Blu-rays for this site, Cult Epics has presented me with some of the most unique and diverse films I've ever had the pleasure of reviewing, from In A Glass Cage to Mondo Weirdo. Although, I must admit, many of the films that I've reviewed for the label have been films that weren't entirely my cup of tea. They were also some of the more complex and challenging reviews I've written, as they placed me outside of my comfort zone and forced me to broaden my cinematic opinions.
I tell you all of this because my latest film for review from Cult Epics is Pim de la Parra's My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie, a 1975 film released during the "Dutch Sex Wave", and one that is, once again, way outside of my usual viewing spectrum.
In the film, Susan (Willeke Van Ammelrooy),a model who lives in an idyllic farmhouse out in the sticks along with three sex-loving youngsters: Sandra (Marja de Heer), Olga (Franulka Heyermans) and the seemingly narcoleptic Julie (Marieke van Leeuwen). A very unstable voyeuristic photographer named Albert also calls the farmhouse home but confines himself to his room.
Things get complicated when a young craftsman, Anton (Hans van der Gragt), arrives to pick up Susan for her latest job. Soon after his arrival, an American motorist turns up dead and the allegations go out to Piet (Nelly Frijda), a crazy woman living in a shack on the other side of the ditch. What seems like a sensual paradise to Anton soon turns horrific, as he begins to realize just how dangerous this house full of nymphs can be.
My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie is only the second film I've watched from de la Parra, as I reviewed his 1969 film Obsessions for Cult Epics last year, so I'm no expert when it comes to his work, but I can tell he has a very strong sense of direction when it comes to filmmaking. Within My Nights' 85-minute runtime, he keeps things moving at a steady pace and gives us the perfect mix of character development, drama, Hitchcockian suspense and, of course, sex.
The film was masterfully shot in Techniscope by Marc Felperlaan (The Lift, The Northeners), who makes excellent use of the film's remote farmhouse setting. Wonderfully complementing the cinematography and setting is the excellent and final score from Hammer Films/Amicus Productions composer Elisabeth Lutyens, who also provided scores for classics such as Never Take Sweets From A Stranger, The Skull and Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors.
Performances are all great here as well, with van Ammelrooy and van der Gragt doing most of the heavy dramatic lifting and are fantastic as the film's leads. Heyermans and de Heer offer up unforgettable turns as the devious sex-crazed psychos. It's Frijda as Piet, however, who steals most of the scenes that she appears in and somehow manages to tip-toe the line between funny and creepy.
For the home video release itself, Cult Epics pulled out all the stops, giving My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie one hell of a stunning North American debut. The Blu-ray features a colorful, nicely detailed HD transfer and restoration from the original 35mm print. The film is framed at 2.33.1 widescreen, preserving the Techniscope aspect ratio, and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. The presentation is entirely devoid of noise reduction, edge enhancement issues and compression artifacts, and features just the right amount of film grain.
DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks are provided for both the original Dutch track (with optional English subtitles) and the dubbed English language version, which is arguably less effective but nice to have included as an option. Of course, I watched the Dutch version and experienced no issues whatsoever in terms of clarity and range.
The film also features and insightful (and optional) 11-minute video intro by de la Parra, wherein he discusses the film's production and release. He also reveals that he intended on casting the late Rutger Hauer as the male lead, but Hauer turned down the role because he did not like the exotic entrance the director had in mind for him. Other extras include three Scorpio Films shorts in the form of the experimental Heart Beat Fresco (10m19s) and two somewhat comical shorts, Joop (10m50s) and Joop Strikes Again (10m30s). The special features are rounded out with a gallery of posters and stills and trailers for all four Cult Epics' other Scorpio releases (Obsessions, Frank & Eva, Blue Movie). A DVD version of the film is also included in the package, featuring the same restoration and extras.
To my surprise, I wholeheartedly enjoyed my time with this film. My worries of the film being too artsy or too sexual were squashed within minutes of pressing "play". I was highly entertained with this quirky little slice of Dutch cinema and I'm truly happy to have a copy of it in my library. Cult Epics bring My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie to Blu-ray in glorious fashion with a very impressive release that I can't recommend enough!