A girl arrives from London to visit her estranged relatives in a remote castle for the reading of her father's will. After a while she discovers that they are all in fact dead and her ... See full summary »
Horror mystery about the residents of a Louisiana castle who are being murdered by a masked killer. When the family arrives for the reading of Marion's will, his wife is strapped to the ... See full summary »
In Alexandria, in 1938, Darley, a young British schoolmaster and poet, makes friends through Pursewarden, the British consular officer, with Justine, the beautiful and mysterious wife of a ... See full summary »
A young doctor kills himself after a medical committee terminates his research into human embryos, considering it too inhumane. His wife then seeks revenge on those who drove her husband to... See full summary »
16-year-old Maria is forced into Serra D'Aires convent, secretly run by Satanists. Her confessor is in collusion with the Mother Superior. Maria is tortured, forced into sex with men, women... See full summary »
A lawyer finds out that a young couple convicted of murder was in fact framed for the crime and goes to the prison with the hope of freeing them and learns the events that happened to the two from a fellow prisoner who helped them escape.
While driving on tour late night through a lonely road in the countryside of Spain, the van of the punk band "Killer Barbys" has an accident and breaks down. A creepy old man invites the ... See full summary »
Eugenie is the capricious daughter of a rich diplomat, living in a seaside resort in Spain. She exhibits her young and splendid body in the beach and night-clubs. She feels an incredible ... See full summary »
In an interview on the Anchor Bay DVD release, Jesús Franco says he originally wanted Rosemary Dexter as Justine, but the American partners in the film insisted upon Romina Power. Franco compared her performance to a window dummy. See more »
The sound we hear on the soundtrack (at c. 26 minutes) is clearly the spanking of bare flesh but the film shows that the blows only strike clothed buttocks. See more »
I watched this last week, my sixth Jess Franco movie. After the relative disappointment with EUGENIE DE SADE (1970), I had hoped that the next Franco would relight my initial admiration for his work. In this respect, I was not a little wary of trying JUSTINE, as its reception on the Internet since its DVD release has not been exactly positive! But since it was the only thing available at the moment Well, I wasn't wrong about my reservations regarding this film, as I must say that I found it truly abysmal! Not so much a waste of time as a wasted opportunity: as Rod Barnett had said in the recent FEMALE VAMPIRE (1973; a film I haven't watched yet, by the way) thread, I think that Franco fails even here to bring out the full potential of the definitely intriguing plot - despite having the biggest budget of his entire career to work with!
Still, what I find most disconcerting about the film is the ongoing parade of embarrassing performances from some interesting (i.e. formerly respectable) actors: Akim Tamiroff, Mercedes McCambridge and, worst of all, Jack Palance. The other notables from the cast - Klaus Kinski, Sylva Koscina and Howard Vernon acquit themselves far better, also because they were already practiced at this sort of thing. McCambridge's raspy voice is given a thorough work-out here, as though she were already attempting to 'find' the demon voice for THE EXORCIST (1973)! Palance, on the other hand, gives new meaning to the expression 'chewing up the scenery' - the fact that he was drunk all through the shooting of the picture could hardly bode well for some form of coherence in his performance and, while I couldn't help (or indeed stop) laughing when he was on screen, deep down I felt really sorry for him as he clearly did not belong there!!
Despite his brief and silent appearance, Klaus Kinksi makes for an appropriately moody Marquis De Sade, who grows increasingly paranoid as the story he is writing unfolds on the screen; actually this linking sequence is quite atmospheric: one online review even compares it to the Gothic horror films of Mario Bava, and I can certainly see where he is coming from with such an argument. Maria Rohm again proves to be an asset to the film (though she isn't nearly as effective here as she was in EUGENIE THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION ): a clearly intelligent woman who possesses both great charisma and genuine sex appeal. Perhaps the film's best sequence is her heartless drowning of the Rosemary Dexter character, formerly her mentor and lover (needless to say, the fact that both women go through the scene stark naked made it all the more memorable!).
As for Romina Power, this may come as a surprise to you but I didn't think she was as bad as most online reviews would have it. Of course, apart from her constant innocent demeanor, she never really captures Justine's essential personality (especially her gradual acceptance of masochism). However, you may remember that in my review of EUGENIE, I had similar reservations about Marie Liljedahl - though, to be fair to her, she certainly came off as less 'wooden'; then again, most of the performances in JUSTINE are terrible anyway, so it really doesn't matter! Perhaps, for someone like Francesco and me, we are more responsive to her 'acting' because we are used to watching her on Italian TV whereas the rest of you will probably have to make do with this single, admittedly unimpressive performance! Still, echoing another review I read of the film, I'm not sure that Rosemary Dexter (apparently Franco's personal choice) could have done much better with the title role, though one cannot really judge her talent from the thankless role she was relegated to playing!
(Useless bit of trivia: Romina Power regularly comes to Malta on holiday perhaps the world's largest collection of her father Tyrone's ephemera resides in our country, believe it or not! - and it is said that she often takes a villa at Naxxar to live in; Naxxar, of course, is the village in Malta where I live!)
For me, the best thing about the entire film is Bruno Nicolai's masterful score, which is perhaps wasted here! At the very least, however, one could say that JUSTINE is good to look at and that it is packed with incident, so it does not really feel slow (like EUGENIE, for instance) throughout its lengthy duration if only what was on screen were more genuinely compelling!
As of now, I stand about 50/50 on Franco (from the very few titles that I have sampled) and, in all honesty, I'm beginning to despair of ever finding another film to equal EUGENIE or THE DIABOLICAL DOCTOR Z (1965). Still, I have high hopes for SUCCUBUS (1967) which will be my next venture into Franco's endless canon as well as VENUS IN FURS (1968) and LORNA THE EXORCIST (1974), though I'll only be able to watch the last two if the local censors deign to release them from their clutches!
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