Eugenie, a beautiful but shy young girl, lives with her stepfather, a famous writer specializing in stories of erotica. One day she happens to read one of his "erotic" books and its power ...
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Conrado San Martín,
Eugenie, a beautiful but shy young girl, lives with her stepfather, a famous writer specializing in stories of erotica. One day she happens to read one of his "erotic" books and its power so affects her that begins to find herself sexually attracted to her stepfather. He notices this, and eventually brings her into his dark world of sexual perversion and murder. Written by
Albert Radeck de Franval:
Eugenie, you've just discovered life's deepest purpose: the quest, the grail mankind has sought throughout the ages - ultimate power of human beings. Yes, the power which comes from the pleasure of giving pain. Living each moment with intensity and awareness while they suffer. You'll find out that the key to life is nothing but your own pleasure. You'll be amazed to find out that pleasure is always at someone else's expense. We'll carry this to its ultimate expression through wounds and blood ...
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This week-end I have watched another Jess Franco movie, my fifth so far: EUGENIE DE SADE (1970), or as the on-screen title would have it, simply, EUGENIE (by way of the recently released R2 DVD from Oracle Entertainment).
Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed by the film itself, especially in view of its reputation as possibly Franco's best. I liked certain aspects of it, surely, but on the whole I felt that it was somewhat overrated. For starters, there are numerous plot-holes which are just too blatant to be left without comment:
1. If Albert and Eugenie decided to start filming their murders just prior to meeting Paul (which eventually was to bring about their downfall), where did the footage which Franco's Tanner is watching at the beginning of the film come from?!
2. If Albert's intention was always to 'pervert' Eugenie (because as he tells her he had killed her mother for just this purpose), it is hardly plausible that he would have waited this long before attempting anything!
3. If Tanner knows just what Albert and Eugenie are up to, why does he need to pester Eugenie on her death-bed in order to discover what makes them 'tick'?
4. In her narration, Eugenie refers to Tanner by name (as if he weren't there) rather than address him directly; also, since Albert never had a chance to tell her he killed Paul, let alone how he did it, how come she knows about it?
I noticed other stuff that didn't quite come off:
· The entire hitch-hiker scene went on 'bloody forever' (as Brian Lindsey had described another scene from the film on the 'Eccentric Cinema' website)
· Soledad's strip-tease is more (unintentionally) comical than erotic (though she does otherwise strike a perfect balance between innocence and deadly allure)
· The Albert/Eugenie relationship, complete with gratuitous sex scenes, is unconvincing to say the least (Paul Muller is quite good, but miscast, here)!
· During Albert's attack on Eugenie, the scene displays a very discreet use of gore for what he is supposed to be doing to her (cut her open with a pair of scissors)!
Another aspect I was let down by was the extreme realism of the settings: of course, this may very well be what the subject called for but, to me, when compared to the sunny/tropical settings of EUGENIE THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1969) and A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (1971) to say nothing of the atmospheric 'noirish' ambiance of THE DIABOLICAL DOCTOR Z (1965) both the autumnal Parisian backdrop of the first half and the scenes which takes place in a 'mod' (i.e. dated) Berlin seemed too mundane and failed to draw me into the proceedings as much as I would have liked! As for Bruno Nicolai's score (which some consider to be his finest work!), I did not find it to be especially memorable and, indeed, repeated the same motifs over and over.
Still, I have to say something about the quality of the DVD itself, because this had a definite bearing on my rather negative reaction to the film. First of all, the English subtitles flashed by very rapidly (causing me to miss some of the dialogue) but, worse than this, too often these did not even match what was being said in French (I can understand the language but I still prefer to watch it accompanied with subtitles)! Besides, in a couple of spots, subtitles appeared on the screen when none of the characters was actually speaking! By the way, does anyone know whether French was this film's original language (could it possibly have been German?); much as the English dubbing was horrid, I did not feel that the dialogue sounded very natural in French either. As was the case with A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD, the theatrical trailer included on the disc featured a number of alternate takes not to mention that ultra-catchy riff from EUGENIE THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION!
I have resisted doing a proper review for this film, as I would like to watch it again before committing myself to pass judgment on it. Suffice to say that, for now, I consider EUGENIE THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION a much better film (perhaps the best Franco I've seen so far), and even A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (by any stretch a less 'coherent' film than EUGENIE DE SADE) was more readily enjoyable. To tell you the truth, my disappointment over EUGENIE DE SADE has practically brought my Franco experience to an indefinite halt. I almost cancelled the orders I made for both EXORCISM (1974) and JACK THE RIPPER (1976) and have postponed my purchase of the R2 DVD editions of VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970) and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1970). Actually, in a few days I should be getting VHS dubs of 4 (!) new Francos - SUCCUBUS (1967), VENUS IN FURS (1968), LES POSSEDEES DU DIABLE (1974; aka: LORNA THE EXORCIST) and THE SADIST OF NOTRE DAME (1979)! Hopefully, when I watch these films my initial 'admiration' for the work of Jess Franco will be re-awakened
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