A comparative study of perversions
I’m around 25 minutes into my shot-by-shot comparison of the two different cuts of Perversion Story/One on Top of the Other, and the differences are pretty interesting. Of the material missing from the Severin DVD/French print, a considerable amount of it seems to be scenes which give away the film’s geographical locations of San Francisco, Reno, etc. My guess would be that the French distributors chose to remove these in an attempt to pass it off as a film set in France, but, not having access to the French audio track, I’m unable to confirm this. It’s not just geographical material, though: someone seems to have been intent on cutting the role of Alberto de Mendoza’s character down to the bare minimum - most of his scenes with Jean Sorel are cut or shortened, unless absolutely necessary to the plot. There are, however, a number of moments on the Severin DVD that don’t appear in the English print dupe - in addition to an extended sex scene between Sorel and Elsa Martinelli, there are a few minor shots of Sorel driving around, a brief close-up of an undertaker, a shot of him entering a strip club, and so on.
Essentially, what we seem to have here is a French cut of the film with English and Italian dialogue slapped over it. As such, it is, in my view, essentially a rogue version of the film created specially for this DVD by Severin Films, and as such it’s difficult to consider the disc definitive. I’m not sure why we ended up getting the French cut, unless Severin Films simply thought: “To hell with plot and character development – people want to see Elsa Martinelli’s breasts!” I’m not really sure how to feel about the situation, because, with films like these, it’s difficult to really claim there to be one “correct” cut, since so many of them are co-productions aimed at different markets, each with their own concerns and tastes. Still, I’m not best pleased that so much dialogue and character building seems to be missing from this version. Personally, given the choice between that and more explicit sex scenes, I’d take the dialogue any day of the week. Of course, in an ideal situation, an “integral” version would have been assembled, similar to what Anchor Bay did with Deep Red and Media Blasters recently did with A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, but it looks as if Severin have opted for a less labour-intensive solution. I can’t say I’m not disappointed, but I understand that projects like these aren’t cheap, especially when you consider that they are aimed at a niche market. As such, they probably couldn’t afford to pick up multiple prints - but I do wish they’d chosen a more complete one than this French version. I’m not about to rake them over the coals, though.
If anyone wants to read my work-in-progress comparison, check out this Word document.