Perversion Story version comparison

  • In Feature
  • 12:00 on 2nd Mar 2007
  • By Michael MackenzieMichael Mackenzie

As I mentioned in my review of Severin Films' recent DVD release of Lucio Fulci's Perversion Story (better known to US audiences under the title of One on Top of the Other, a more literal translation of the Italian Una Sull'Altra), Severin made the rather surprising decision to use the French 97-minute theatrical cut of the film as a source, rather than the more widely-known English (103-minute) or Italian (99-minute) variants. A major selling point of the French version is that it features "salacious scenes never before seen in any English language release". What Severin have neglected to tell their customers, however, is that it is also missing more than 10 minutes' worth of material found in English-language versions of the film. Like so many films of its vintage and origin, Perversion Story has a complex history and, as a co-production between three countries (Italy, Spain and France), several variations were created for different markets. As such, it's difficult to see this French edition as somehow illegitimate or inauthentic, although customers used to the English cut will understandably be disappointed to learn that a considerable amount of narrative material is not included here.

For those who wish for an overview of the plot elements that are missing from Severin's DVD, or who are simply interested in getting an overview of the different versions that exist of this film, I have compiled this list, which compares the 97 minutes and 10 seconds Severin DVD with a VHS dupe I own of an English language print, which runs for 98 minutes and 40 seconds in PAL (corrected for speed-up, it would run for 102 minutes and 37 seconds).

Unsurprisingly, SPOILERS a-plenty lie ahead.


- Time codes correspond with the Severin DVD. They reference the moment the cut takes place, not the non-cut material I use to ‘bracket’ the cuts in my transcriptions as a frame of reference.
- Calculations of cut footage have been ‘standardised’ to NTSC running times (4% longer than PAL).
- Material not found on the Severin DVD is printed in bold.
- Material found on the Severin DVD but not the English VHS dupe is underlined.

00:03:22 (Discussion between George Dumurrier and his brother Henry)

Henry: “You may not realise this, George, but we are becoming the laughing stock of the medical profession.”
George (laughing): “Mr. Philip Holden is not part of the medical profession.” (He closes his briefcase.) “He’s a millionaire from Nevada. The banks, hotels, oil-wells. He read the article, and he didn’t laugh. Instead he called me, and wants me to meet him tonight in Reno.”
Henry: “This was planted for him?”
George: “Well, obviously, that was the reason behind it. Besides, we lie of necessity.” (He exits. Cut to long shot of Golden Gate bridge. Camera slowly zooms down on car and tracks it. Cut to close-up of George driving. Cut to shot of Golden Gate bridge again, zooming out and tracking across it slowly. Cut to another shot of George’s car driving – the road takes a sharp turn left into a spaghetti junction. Cut to George’s car driving up a steep street in the heart of San Francisco. At the top of the hill he turns right. Cut to a shot of the car driving up a winding road in the hillside out of the city. Cut to him pulling up outside his home and getting out of the car. Cut to another angle as he approaches the house. Cut to a tracking shot of him walking around the house; as he passes a window, we see his wife, Susan, watching him suspiciously. Cut to George walking, hands in pockets. Cut back to Susan watching him; she shivers and steps out of frame. Cut to wide shot of the back of the house, as George goes up to the door and lets himself in.
Cut to inside the house; the camera pans left as Susan walks left through frame.)

(Duration of cut material: 00:01:46)


George: “Of course.”
(Cut to an extended version of the sex scene between George and Jane: the camera pans slowly over them as they lie in bed, caressing each other, and zooms in close on Jane’s face as she lies on her back and George begins to kiss her. They roll over so she is now on top as the camera pulls back. Cut to a different shot, with her still on top, as he penetrates her and they continue kissing. Cut to red-tinted shot photographed through transparent sheets of them continuing their tryst – NB. The first few seconds are lost on VHS dupe.)

(Duration of added material: 00:01:07)


(A shot of George’s car overtaking the train Jane is travelling in. Cut to a shot of George’s car driving on a bridge over a stretch of water. Cut to a close-up of a sign: “San Luis Obispo”. Zoom out to show the train pulling into the station. Close-up of the train pulling up. The conductor gets out and puts down a step. Cut to him helping Jane down.)

(Duration of added material 00:00:22)


(George and Jane embrace as the camera pulls back. Cut to a shot from behind of George’s car driving along a snowy, mountain-top road. Cut to inside the car: George is driving, while Jane sits next to him.)
Jane: “How will it end – between us?”
George: “I don’t know.”
Jane: “I’ll tell you. One day, I’ll take that train, and you won’t be there waiting for me.”
George: “No. We’ll work it out.”
(Cut to a shot of the streets of Reno at night. The camera tracks George’s car as it heads into the city, under a sign welcoming drivers to “Reno: the biggest little city in the world”. Cut to a shot from inside the car as they continue to drive. Cut to a shot inside a casino as a clerk picks up a telegram and hands it to the waiting George.)
Clerk: “This is for you, Dr. Dumurrier.”
George: “Thank you.”

(He looks at the telegram, then crushes it in his hand.)

(Duration of cut material: 00:00:56)


George: “It’s Susan. She’s dead.”
Jane: “Dead?”
(Cut to motorway at night as George drives home. Cut to shot of him driving, with Jane sitting next to him, lighting a cigarette. She offers it to him; he takes it. Cut to a memory of his: Susan giving him a cigarette as they sail in a boat in San Francisco Bay. Cut to an alternate angle as she kisses him. Cut back to George driving, remembering.)
George: “It’s all so long ago, it seems to have happened in another lifetime.”
(Jane strokes his face and rests her head on his shoulder. Cut to a defocused shot of cars driving as a thunderclap is heard. Cut back to George, driving, as the camera zooms in slowly on Jane, resting her head on his shoulder with her eyes closed.
Cut to an overhead shot as George heads up the stairs with Henry.)
Henry: “I spoke with the nurse. She said Susan sent her away.)

(Duration of cut material: 00:00:52)


George: “You don’t understand about her. She always hated me.”
(Cut to George and Henry walking outside.)
George: “Sometimes I think the fact that I was alive annoyed her. We hardly ever spoke to one another. It got so bad she would lock herself in her room.”
Henry: “Yes, I was told that she allowed no-one on the upper floor.”
George: “Only Martha was allowed to go up there. Not me. That was her rule.”
(A secretary approaches.)
Secretary: “Doctor! Telephone for you,
Dr. Dumurrier.” [Very bad dialogue edit here.]
(Cut to a shot inside the clinic as Henry and George step in.)

(Duration of cut material: 00:00:23)


(Arthur Mitchell winds down his car window and watches as we cut to George entering a building with stained glass windows. Cut to inside the strip club, where women are throwing balloons off a balcony. Cut to a nude woman swinging from the ceiling. Cut to a rear shot of a nude woman dancing.)

(Duration of added material: 00:00:11)


(Shot of George and Jane looking at each other. Cut to Monica Weston sitting down next to Arthur Mitchell. He looks at her. Cut to a wider shot of the club, showing George and Jane in Frame.)
(Note: the following lines of dialogue are silent on the English track.)
Jane: “Ask her to join her table!”
George: “Why would I?”
Jane: “I told you, curiosity.”
(George turns to look at Monica. Cut to a close-up of Monica as she notices George, stands up and approaches.
Cut to a wider shot as she approaches George and Jane’s table and sits down at it.)

(Duration of added material: 00:00:23)


Monica: “You’ll have to explain it to me better than that.”
(Pan down to show her breasts. Cut to a close-up of Monica’s backside as she steps out of her underwear. Cut to a close-up of George.)
George: “Forget it. Not worth explaining.”

(Duration of added material: 00:00:03)


(Monica stands up and approaches George, taking the cigarette out of his mouth. Cut to a close-up of her looking at him. Cut to a side shot as she puts her arm round his neck and kisses him on the lips. They suck each other’s faces for a while. Then cut to her looking at him again, then looking down; she removes her hand from his neck. Cut to a close-up of George’s face. Cut to a wider shot of the two of them; she kneels down, rubbing his chest with her hand, the camera tracking her. Kneeling on the floor, she undoes the last button of his shirt, then undoes the button on his trousers and slides down his zipper. Cut to a shot of them both in bed in the dark, having sex. Monica is on top; the camera pans up from her backside to show the two of them from the waist up. Cut to a tighter close-up of their faces; they roll over, and now he’s on top. Cut to a tight, upside-down shot of his back; the camera pans up, travelling further down their bodies. Cut to a side view as they continue. Cut to a close-up of his face from her point of view. Suddenly cut to him having a vision of the dead Susan, laid out in her coffin. Cut back to reality, and a close-up of Monica biting or kissing his neck. A rapid cut to a close-up of his face as he moves his head forward. Then another cut back to Monica as he kisses her chest. He continues to kiss her as she begins to rub her breasts with one hand, grabbing his hand with the other and guiding it down to her groin.)

(Duration of added material: 00:01:49)


Inspector Wald: “Well, that ought to prove she’s been copying Susan Dumurrier’s signature.”
(Cut to a close-up of a grief-stricken Monica as she is interrogated.)
Monica: “It’s not my fault. Betty told me that the woman was terribly sick, and that she would die very soon. She had an incurable illness. No-one cared if the poor woman lived or died!”
Wald: “Well, the insurance company cared! A half a million dollars worth of care.”
Monica: “That’s an awful lot of bread.”
(Wald glances at his assistant.)
Wald: “Isn’t it. Get me the DA.”
(Cut to Wald and the DA walking; Wald is holding a sheet of paper.)
Wald: “Well, here’s the confession. She insists this woman Betty was her contact. She describes her as tall, elegant, about 40. Always wore dark glasses. And always had her hair a different way whenever they met. And she, um, she thinks it was a wig.”
DA: “Just Betty – there’s no last name?”
Wald: “No, and no address. Only the phone calls, and whenever they met, it was always in town.”
DA: “And she gave her $20,000?”
(Wald nods.)
Wald: “The minute she signed the policy as Susan Dumurrier, this Betty paid her. In cash. And then disappeared.”
DA: “Right back into the woodwork.”
Wald: “What about Dr. Dumurrier?”
DA: “He’s the only one who profited by his wife’s death. By the way, what did she die of?”
Wald: “An attack of asthma.” (The DA sits down.) “She suffocated during the night.”
DA: “She have any other illness?”
Wald: “Not that we know of.”
(Wald offers a sandwich to the DA, who is examining the confession.)
DA: “Not right now.” (Pause) “That’s strange. Asthma isn’t a fatal disease, except in cases of suffocation, and they’re extremely rare. Dumurrier’s a doctor and he should have known how to treat it.”
(Cut to Wald in George’s house, approaching him with a photograph of Monica.)
Wald: “It’s a tremendous likeness. You said you never knew Monica Weston, then, hmm?”
George: “I already told you when and how I met her.”
Wald: “Ah, yes. Mysterious telephone call, wasn’t it?”
George: “You don’t believe me.”
Wald: “Come on, Doctor. From the information we’ve been able to gather you’ve come up with some pretty fancy stories.”
George: “If I wanted to invent a story, I would certainly come up with something better than this one.”
Wald: “Did it ever occur to you that your wife could have been murdered?”
George: “Who would think such a thing?”
Wald: “I think such a thing. And the DA thinks such a thing.” (He starts to walk away.) “I’m sorry, Doctor, but we’re having your wife’s body exhumed.”
(He glances at George to see his reaction.
Cut to a high angle shot of the morgue, as an undertaker steps in, leading Martha and George.)

(Duration of cut material: 00:02:34)


Jane: “She was there that night at George’s house – the night his wife died. That’s where he remembered seeing her. She was the nurse.”
(Cut to a close-up of a Sergeant Rodriguez on the phone. Benjamin is approaching.)
Rodriguez: “Uh-huh. Yes, alright. Yes. Yes, dog. Yes.”
Benjamin: “Sergeant Rodriguez?”
Rodriguez (on phone): “Black… poodle.”
Benjamin: “I want to pay Monica Weston’s bail.”
Rodriguez: “She was sprung a few minutes ago.” (Back to phone call.) “With a newspaper in its mouth? We can find the dog but not the paper!”
Benjamin: “Who put up her bail?”
Rodriguez: “What’s it to you?” (Back to phone call.) “No, ma’am. The dog’s sex is not important.”
Benjamin: “But Sergeant…! You see, Sergeant, it was $3,000 bail. You don’t know how hard it was for me… to get that much together.”
Rodriguez: “In that case, be happy you still got it.” (Back to phone call.) “Yes, still listening. Yes, ma’am. Call us every ten minutes. We’ll send out all the cars in San Francisco looking for you dog. Yes.”
(Rodriguez hangs up as Benjamin leaves.
Cut to Monica’s house, where Monica is on the phone.)
Monica: “It’s the Belle Époque restaurant, 142 Boulevard Saint Germain.”

(Duration of cut material: 00:00:54)


(Jane puts down her camera and turns the topless Monica around to face her. Cut to a low angle as she lays Monica on her back. Cut to a tighter shot as she turns Monica’s head, then gets on top of her; the camera pans down as she straddles Monica, then pans up again as she continues to look at her. Cut to a high angle shot of Jane on top of Monica, stroking her hair.)

(Duration of added material: 00:00:13)


(We see a close-up of the two sets of fingerprints being matched. Cut to Wald, the DA and another detective walking down a corridor leading to Monica’s apartment.)
DA: “This chick is the key to the whole thing. D’you think she’ll cooperate?”
Wald: “If she hasn’t been murdered.”
DA: “Oh-ho! That’d be serious!”
Wald: “Yeah, real serious.”
(Cut to a close-up of the detective trying a key in the lock of the door; however, the door itself swings open.)
Wald: “It’s open.”
(Cut to inside the apartment; the various detectives stand on the upper floor, looking down. The camera pans down to reveal Benjamin sitting alone on the bed.)
Benjamin: “No, it can’t be. She couldn’t have left me. She couldn’t have.”
(The detectives come down the stairs towards him. Benjamin is looking at a painting of a café.)
Benjamin: “I’ve got to find it. I’ve got to.”
(He starts rummaging about among the various pieces of scrap paper on the floor.)
Benjamin: “She must have left a note.”
Detective: “Mr. Benjamin? Mr. Benjamin!”
Benjamin: “No, don’t send me away! I haven’t finished looking for it yet.”
Detective: “But you know you can’t do such things. Now, give me back the key.”
Benjamin: “The key?”
Detective: “Yes.”
(Benjamin hands it over. The detective bends down to look at the papers on the floor. Benjamin picks up his coat and makes for the stairs.)
DA: “Aren’t we going to take him in for questioning?”
Detective: “All he’ll be able to tell you is how she ruined his life.”
Wald: “Well, that ought to make pretty good listening.”
(Cut to Wald and the DA walking back down the corridor.)
Wald: “If this Monica Weston fled the state, we’ll get the FBI on her tail. Even Interpol if we have to.”

(Cut to Henry and Arthur driving towards the entrance of San Quentin State Prison.)

(Duration of cut material: 00:01:27)


Insurance Official(?): “Or he’d simply say he was inventing the whole thing to save his life. It sounds alright, and it would hold up in court, even if he was guilty.”
Arthur: “Well, then why did he disappear like that?”
Insurance Official: “To give you time to sow seeds of doubt, Arthur. Suppose Henry and George planned this whole thing. There’s no risk involved. All Henry has to do is hide out for a while. It’s not too much to ask of a brother, is it?”
Arthur: “You think it was Henry?”
Insurance Official: “It’s merely a hypothesis… but one that I must say is in character with what we know about George Dumurrier. And if it’s true, it’s a very dangerous and cynical expedient – one that wouldn’t go down well with public opinion, I’m afraid. In your view, the positions are reversed. The condemned is innocent, and the victim is guilty. If we aired that opinion publicly, it would open a case of defamation of character against the already victimised deceased.”
Arthur: “This is all very true, if you assume that this is an expedient. Here.”
(He hands his lighter to the Insurance Official, who uses it to light a cigarette.)
Insurance Official: “The burden of proof is yours, I’m afraid. The Governor has given you 24 hours, and the police will be at your disposal. We can’t do any more.”
(Cut to the police station, and a long shot, where Inspector Wald is interviewing a man and a woman – George’s butler and the butler’s wife.)
Wald: “You weren’t allowed in her room. How’d you know she was in there?”

(Cut to a close-up of the butler. Cut to a close-up of his wife bowing her head. Cut back to the butler.)
Butler: “’Cos, when Miss Martha went up, we heard them talking.”

(Duration of cut material: 00:01:19)


Wald: “I know, I know. You think Henry Dumurrier substituted Elizabeth O’Neill’s dental record.”
(He walks off-screen. Arthur and Jane turn to look at each other. Arthur glances at the dental record, then flings it across the room, as we cut to a wider shot. He and Jane then leave the lab. Cut to the inside of an apartment, with Jane in the foreground and Arthur and Larry in the background.)
Jane: “Arthur, do you believe what George said?”

(Duration of added material: 00:00:06)


(An exterior shot of a Paris airport. A voice in French makes an announcement about a flight over the intercom, as we cut to a tracking shot of Henry walking towards the car park. Cut to an exterior shot as he approaches a taxi and gets into the back seat.)

(Duration of added material: 00:00:04)


(Henry gets out of the taxi and looks up at the building facing him. He steps inside as the camera pulls back to reveal it to be the café from the picture in Monica’s apartment. Cut to him walking in, taking off his gloves and taking a seat.)

(Duration of added material: 00:00:08)


Difference in running time: 00:05:27
Duration of footage found only on Severin DVD: 00:04:29
Duration of footage found only on VHS dupe: 00:10:11

Any remaining time discrepancies are due to a combination of error on my part (a second here or there), scenes being cut slightly looser or tighter in one version than in the other, or frames being lost in places (a common occurrence on the VHS dupe).


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