Eugenie de Sade (US - DVD)
Gabe takes a dip into perversion with Senior Franco and the Marquis de Sade
Esteemed author Albert Radeck (Paul Muller) is the toast of the Berlin literati and the object of his stepdaughter Eugenie's (Soledad Miranda) affections. However, when his doe-eyed little darling unmasks her sophisticated father figure as a sex-crazed psychopath obsessed with perpetrating the perfect crime, she transforms from innocent ward to a willing accomplice. The deadly duo seduce and destroy everyone in their path—until Eugenie's charms spark a jealous rage in Albert that threatens to consume them both (taken directly from the box art, I couldn’t have put it better myself.)
First things first, this movie is called Eugenie de Sade and is also known as simply Eugenie. It is not, I repeat not to be confused with Justine de Sade, or Marquis de Sade’s Justine, or Eugenie…The Story of Her Journey into Perversion. There may be some other Marquis de Sade adaptations with similar titles I’ve missed, so be sure to check the label, because these films are not, contrary to popular belief, entirely interchangeable. Some are period pieces, but others, like this one, are modern. Some of them even feature different actors than other ones, though usually not.
And now I turn off the sarcasm machine, just in case some of you were taking me seriously.
Eugenie de Sade is definitely one of the better ‘70s softcore de Sade adaptations (a very lucrative sub-genre, as you can see), but that isn’t really saying a whole lot. Shlock-maestro Jess Franco was actually still interested in film in 1970, and his effort in telling a coherent story without too much filler is almost commendable considering the director’s track record. There’s still quite a bit of filler, but the ninety-minute feature moves swiftly enough. Senior Franco pays particular attention to sensuality, and relies on some really wacky camera work during scenes of violence, which help to stay off the boredom so common in his later features.
Lead actress Soledad Miranda’s undeniable sexiness is another big plus. The star of other Franco ‘classics’ like Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed in Ecstasy (both vampire based softcore, where she also spent a lot of time hugging her legs) is hard not to watch, and her minimalist yet thoughtful acting style is genuinely seductive. The other actors, including Paul Muller as Eugenie’s sadistic father, and Franco himself, are the usual exploitation fodder, but not entirely unconvincing either. The entire film, which is told in flashback, narrated by the nearly dead Eugenie, is quite dream like, and the dialogue is almost classically de Sade, at least the narration is.
Eugenie de Sade is hardcore in its perversions, but softcore in its execution, not unlike most of Franco’s features from the era (he became more comfortable with hardcore pornography as such things became more acceptable in mainstream Europe). This isn’t a porno, so those looking for such things will likely be disappointed, and unfortunately the constant nudity and taboo subject matter will likely chase most everyone else off. These Blue Underground releases are most practical not in that the films are the best of their kind, but because such preservation is important to all film, even the exploitation quickies.
Blue Underground keeps up appearances, and presents another miraculously remastered transfer of a forgotten exploitation relic. The overall image is often a bit soft, but Franco was known for his fondness of soft focus. Detail levels are sharp, even for a Blue Underground disc, though edge enhancement is an issue throughout. There are some minor strobing effects during camera moves, and darker scenes are grainier then lighter ones. The colour pallet is slightly dulled, but considering the detail levels I’m pretty sure this was part of Franco’s ‘grand design’. When the colour scheme becomes livelier, as in the baked reds of the various nightclubs Eugenie frequents, the colours are vibrant, and relatively free of noise.
As per their standards, Blue Underground supplies two channel Mono versions of both the original French and dubbed English soundtracks. Again, I use the word ‘original’ loosely because the whole film was dubbed in post for both languages, and only some of the actors were speaking French anyway. The English track has the edge on general volume and clarity of voice (Eugenie’s father sounds a lot like Christopher Walken), but has issues with distortion at higher volume levels. The French dialogue has a tendency to blend into the rest of the soundtrack. The sound effects on both tracks are minimalist in favour of dreamy music (the sounds of Eugenie’s father slapping her at films end is actually missing on the English track). Each track has a slightly differing score; the English score is more dependant on the vocal heavy themes, and the French score features a few more jazz influences numbers. The score is slightly flatter on the French track, but not entirely warm on the English track either.
The minimalist extras start with a new interview with director Jess Franco, and end with a theatrical trailer. The Franco interview runs a patience testing twinty minutes. The interview takes place in the same room, and likely on the same day, as all the other Blue Underground Franco interviews. This particular interview focuses mostly on Senior Franco’s obsession with all things de Sade, specifically on the film at hand. The director has nothing but great things to say about Miranda (who died the year the film was released), which really means something considering the not so nice words he’s had for some of his other leading ladies. Franco’s English isn’t very good (he’s subtitled), and one can’t help but wonder if the interview would’ve been a lot shorter if he’d spoken in Spanish.
Eugenie de Sade will only appeal to a small spectrum of DVD collector, but fans of the director and sub-genre could do a whole hell of a lot worse. Blue Underground keeps their record clean with another outstanding video remastering, but the Franco interviews are becoming a bit trying. Stay tuned for more Francoific sexploitation from the Underground very soon.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 29th January 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono French
Extras: Director Interview, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Soledad Miranda, Paul Muller, Jess Franco
Length: 91 minutes
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