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Marquis de Sade: Justine
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Reviews & Ratings for
Deadly Sanctuary More at IMDbPro »Marquis de Sade: Justine (original title)

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Worth viewing, but it's not the film Franco intended

Author: David Ross Smith (one801@mindspring.com) from Washington, DC
4 February 2003

'Marquis de Sade's 'Justine'' (1968) is easily Jess Franco's most accomplished film, esp. from a technical standpoint, backed by the biggest budget he would ever have. Rich, brilliant colors, skin aplenty, a few perversities, and strange performances from Klaus Kinski, Jack Palance and Mercedes Mccambridge make for an entertaining but relatively tame Franco outing. To boot, Jack Palance's performance ranks as possibly the most bizarre ever seen on film. The dvd includes a revealing 20-minute 'making of' documentary featuring an extensive, contemporary interview with director Franco, and he doesn't hold back. Franco states that Palance was sauced during the entire shoot, drinking red wine all day, each day, starting around 7a.m.

Kinski's role (as de Sade) was originally handed to Orson Welles, but once Welles read the script, he claimed that he simply could not play the part because it included scenes of erotica. In reality, Welles would have had to do a scene with several totally naked women, and this may have made him uncomfortable and nervous. Interestingly, the de Sade character has no lines, and Kinski's scenes are just a bunch of cutaways of him sitting/pacing in a prison cell, mentally tortured, trying to write 'Justine'.

Franco intended to create an explicitly nasty, masochistic film faithful to de Sade's writing; however, according to Franco, he was forced into a watered-down, `Snow-White-lost-in-the-woods' direction because of the producer's decision to cast Tyrone Power's daughter, Romina Power, in the title role. `She was a passenger, wandering around,' Franco scoffed. `She was like a piece of furniture. It was as if I was making Bambi 2'. The role was intended for Rosemary Dexter, who appears in the film in a lesser role.

Franco's version of 'Justine' is not as grim or as depressing as Chris Boger's 'Cruel Passion' (1977), starring Koo Stark, but it's also not as nasty or as perverse. Too bad for Franco fans. --- david ross smith

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Bad Taste Triumphant - Great Fun!

Author: david melville (dwingrove@qmuc.ac.uk) from Edinburgh, Scotland
14 October 2003

Sorry to disappoint, but Justine is by no means the welter of non-stop gore and perversion you might expect from a confluence of Franco, de Sade and producer Harry Alan Towers. Adapted from the Marquis's sublimely immoral 'moral tale,' it plays for much of its length as a bawdy 18th century romp in the style of Tom Jones. Naturally, with the added joys of cut-rate production values and dodgy acting.

We only hit familiar Franco territory when our heroine (a bland Romina Power - yes, Tyrone's daughter) is ravished by a coven of depraved monks. Cue for lots of naked Eurotrash starlets, trussed up in chains. Gee, it's good to be home!

So Justine is not quite your typical Franco production. For a start, it has something approaching a budget. That means a lot of semi-big names (most of whom have seen better days) show up as 'guest stars.' Indeed, the film is best watched as a vast costume party, whose guests have been invited to Come-As-Your-Most-Embarrassing-Moment.

Hence we get Akim Tamiroff as a drunken pimp, Mercedes McCambridge as a lesbian brigand, Sylva Koscina as a cross-dressing noblewoman and Klaus Kinski as the Marquis de Sade himself. The grand prize must go to Jack Palance as Brother Antonin, spiritual leader of the above-mentioned depraved monks. His may be the most deranged performance in the annals of screen acting.

Weighed down by the baggage of an international tax-shelter epic, Justine never comes close to the dreamlike delirium of Succubus or Virgin Among the Living Dead or any of Franco's more extreme, smaller-scale works. Still, it's a lot of fun - in its utterly reprehensible way.

Franco himself even crops up as the ringmaster of a grotesque peepshow, where Justine is forced to appear after she survives any number of Fates-Worse-Than-Death. Now that's what I call typecasting!

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18 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

[insert sound of cat coughing up hairball here]

2/10
Author: zBirdman from Raleigh, NC
8 May 2004

In a word; terrible. The actual story "Justine" is a somewhat perverted morality tale that has a very shrewd understory; de Sade is well known in spite of his fascination with the perverse - he truly was a gifted wordsmith.

Would that the same could be said of Franco's "Justine". According to Franco on the short interview included on the DVD, Romina Power was basically forced on him to be the "star", and he does not hide his disgust at her performance in the interview. Franco didn't want her, Power didn't seem to care either way (he said she rarely even knew when the camera was rolling; basically, she'd have a hard time even playing convincing furniture) and to things even better, Romina's Mom tagged along.

If you're looking for S&M, you're not going to find it here. If you're looking for nudity, you will find it here, but you quickly won't care. If you're interested in the Marquis de Sade, you won't learn anything about him by watching this. If you're on Death Row with two hours left, then this truly is the film for you; but all others should really steer clear.

Klaus Kinski was listed as the star of the film in Europe, and yet he speaks no lines and interacts with none of the other characters in the film. The first few minutes of the film (around 10 minutes, but it seemed like 30) show Kinski as the Marquis. He appears to be swimming in a sea of writing compulsions and drifting beyond the bounds of reality, or he's simply in dire need of a strong laxative. Either way, his segments are interspersed throughout the film, and they add absolutely nothing.

Jack Palance is wildly flamboyant, but it's hard to tell what the heck is going on with him anyway. In one particularly bizarre sequence he's gliding around on some sort of a wheeled dolly like a wax statue. According to Franco, Palance was always drunk, but he was pleased with his performance as Antonin.

It's not erotic. It's not sensual. It's not alluring. My wife and I watched it anticipating something like "The Story of O", but ended up with "The Story of O No". Definitely NOT recommended.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE (1968) **

Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
10 October 2004

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 [1969]): 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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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Somewhat Entertaining, But Relatively Un-Sleazy Sleaze Film...

6/10
Author: EVOL666 from St. John's Abortion Clinic
9 May 2006

Jess Franco's interpretation of the Marquis de Sade's Justine, seems a bit tame for my taste. I really wasn't expecting much going into this (it IS Jess Franco, after all...) so I can't say I was that disappointed. I was expecting a pretty average sleaze film, and that's what I got...

Justine and her sister are banished from a private school when their father dies and leaves them no money for tuition. The one sister goes to a whorehouse to work, Justine decides that ain't her thing. The rest of the film is pretty much comprised of Justine being subjected to different forms of exploitation that would have been way worse than what she would have experienced in the whorehouse...

Nothing really notable about JUSTINE, other than the beautiful women that show far too little skin. Don't get me wrong - there is nudity in the film - even some brief full-frontal - but it's never long enough or in the right situation to be arousing or memorable. The acting is decent - the sets and costumes are very well done, and the story is relatively entertaining - but it tends to drag. It actually took me three viewings to watch it all the way through, because I kept falling asleep (though I partially blame that on the bourbon...). Not a horrible film, worth a look to exploit fans, just don't expect too much...6/10

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable and a rather provocative movie

8/10
Author: lthseldy1 from Norfolk, VA
23 December 2002

This movie took place in France around the 17th century and focused on two sisters, one of them innocent and good and the other not so innocent and caniving. Their father is sent to exile and they are each left a small amount of money to take care of themselves and are asked to leave the convent in which they had lived. The bad sister tries to pursuade the other good sister to live with her in a whore house with her but the good sister would have nothing of that and she dicides to go off on her own away from her bad sister. Like an Alice in Wonderland adventure the good sister goes from place to place in search for a place to live and at each doorstep awaits unspeakable tourture and mayhem. Jack Palance plays a rather strange character as a leader of a sadistic cult that takes pleasure in watching and performing rituals of torture. His performance was short in this film and I wish that it could have been a longer role, not because he was good in it (because he lacked in character ) but because it could have made more sense with him in it. Klaus Kinski who also has a short lived role in this movie as the Marquie De Sade is exiled in prison and does nothing but sit at a table and writes the whole story about the two sisters and their adventures. His role makes no sense as he just gets tired of writing all those pages and calapses. The bad sister ends up getting hooked up with a rich Aristocrate and later finds her poor sister in a carnival in the midst of public humilitation after being branded a murderess by another person she seeked at one time in need for asylum. The bad sister listens to her poor sisters story and takes care of her in the end. There is a moral to this tale: You may endure many hardships, but in the end, you'll find the treasures you are given in the end.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

An enjoyable sweeping epic. maybe

5/10
Author: campblood13 from Austin, TX
5 August 2003

I went into this film expecting lots of nudity and bad acting, as it turned out I got the opposite of both. The star of the film Romina Power is wonderful as well as beautiful. Some other reviewers have said she appeared dull and uninterested, but I don't think that is the case. I think her spaced out look was a cunning ploy to take advantage of situations when needed. Of course she was a virgin and untrusting of men which also lead to her innocence.

The beautiful setting and costumes should have won the Academy Award. :) Look for Jack Palance over-acting as a sexual deviant monk, who attempts to free young Justine. Jack and his fellow monks are studying the power of PLEASURE!!! They should have shown this at the Academy Awards the year after Palance won for City Slickers, and the whole place would have fell down laughing. I liked this movie, the uncut version runs 2 hours on DVD and is well worth it. I never got bored with the film. 5/10 Average, but better than I thought it would be.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, yet uninspired sleaze.

5/10
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
18 October 2004

On paper, this looks like THE greatest exploitation idea ever! The vicious writings of Marquis de Sade brought to the screen by no less a person then the Godfather of sleaze: Jess Franco! And starring the fabulously outrageous Klaus Kinski as the Marquis. And there are several other aspects about this film that indicate that you're about to see a triumph in the euro-exploitation field. Like the rather big budget. Franco normally makes the most out of small budgets but here he actually had the chance to work with decent set pieces, costumes and actors. The cast is more than decent with Jack Palance, Howard Vernon (Franco regular) and the ravishing Maria Rohm and Romina Power. This latter one plays the title role and – as well as the entire film – disappoints. The movie is a series of unspectacular events and I never saw Franco this tame! Marquis de Sade: Justine is low on violence, low on nudity and extremely low surprises. Kinski is dreadfully underused and the whole thing is just too correct! Which is NOT Franco's trademark…

Of course, it's very stylish and guided by brilliant music. The sets are gorgeous and the two leading ladies remain a joy to stare (preferably when they keep their mouths shut). This certainly isn't Franco's finest film but I'll still prefer it over 99% of the amateurish crap that is brought out nowadays. Franco rules, but he had a bad day here!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

(Un)happy dreamer named De Sade

8/10
Author: Vasilii Naidionoff from Ukraine
9 February 2007

Not correct to call Jesus Franco's interpretation of MARQUIS DE SADE: JUSTINE as "drama" or "horror".It is very soft kind of exploitation cinema for easy viewing in the evening.This is not bad kind of movie.Because it's unexpected version of De Sade's world.With some soft humor and romantica.No straight violence and brutality.No much nudity?Fogget it!(so many good another porno-movies at 60-70-th)!There are two alter egos of marquis personality at film.First:Klaus Kinski - suffering convict writer.Happy drunker mad poet(Jack Palance no named De Sade at the movie?-Who cares?!)- second alter ego.Feverish work of cinematographer to memory of surrealistic cinema.This is good trash-film!Don't be boring!

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Tame de Sade Adaption

Author: Rapeman from New Zealand
14 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here is yet another of the various exploitation flicks based on De Sade's Justine (the best of which are credited to the prolific Jess Franco). This one is an English production starring Koo Stark, onetime girlfriend of Prince Andrew.

Set sometime in 18th Century England, two sisters, 16-year-old Justine and 17-year-old Juliette, are expelled from their convent school after they are orphaned and can no longer afford the fees. Juliette comes up with the brilliant idea of going to the London whorehouse where their cousin works and learning the "tricks of the trade", regardless of the fact they are both still virgins.

At the whorehouse the older and more worldly Juliette gets on fine and embraces the brothel lifestyle while the naïve & innocent Justine can't handle it and runs away back to the convent, into Pastor John's welcoming arms. Although, after the good Pastor has had a few wines he can no longer contain his lecherous urges and attempts to rape poor, pure Justine. Luckily she escapes with her virginity intact but Pastor John ends up dead and she is now wanted for murder.

Whilst escaping through the church graveyard she encounters a gang of graverobbers who kidnap her and force her into their way of life - she becomes their bait for luring stagecoaches to a halt so the thieves can rob & murder the occupants. Meanwhile, Juliette has become concerned by the absence of her sister and sends her heroic aristocrat boyfriend, Lord Carlisle (Martin Potter of Fellini's Satyricon fame) out to search for her.

Lord Carlisle eventually catches up with the thieves as they use their ploy to rob his stagecoach and murder all the occupants, only sparing him after Justine's pleading. The two soon escape only to be hunted down by dogs and brutally slaughtered (and in Justine's case gang-raped).

Compared to De Sade's original story (and indeed even Jess Franco's adaptations) Justine is pretty tame, there's the odd splatter of blood, infrequent nudity and even some non-graphic rape & necrophilia but overall - even with those acts included - there's still not much for exploitation aficionados to get excited about. The film focuses more on Justine's plight and the eventual tarnishing of her innocence.

Strangely enough this film is included as part of Redemption's Nunsploitation box set but it's only really the first twenty to thirty minutes that are set in the convent - the rest is either in the countryside or the brothel - although, aside from the downbeat ending and Justine's surreal catholic guilt nightmare sequences, the convent scenes are the best & sleaziest parts of the film, with the usual forced lesbianism and debauched Mother Superior.

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