Blue Underground presents
Marianne: There's so much for you to learn. Are you sure you're ready to begin?
Eugenie: Yes, if you're the teacher, of course I am.- Maria Rohm, Marie Liljedahl
Stars: Marie Liljedahl, Maria Rohm, Jack Taylor, Christopher Lee
Other Stars: Paul Muller, Ingrid Swensoin, Kaplan, Uta Dalhberg, Jess Franco
Director: Jess Franco
Manufacturer: Ritek Digital Video
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, violence, gore, sexuality, sadomasochism, drug use, language, rape)
Run Time: 01h:26m:32s
Release Date: 2002-11-05
DVD ReviewThe release of this picture by Blue Underground is certainly a notable event for Eurocult fans. Never released on home video before (even on bootlegs), it was feared to be a lost film. Happily, that was not the case, and this disc will help with the reappraisal that prolific director Jess Franco has been undergoing in recent years.
Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl) is an innocent young woman, having gone to a convent school. She is brought by Marianne Saint-Ange (Maria Rohm) to her island for a weekend, with the promise that she will learn more about life. What Eugenie doesn't count on is that the education will involve being drugged, raped and tortured by Marianne and her stepbrother Mirvel (Jack Taylor), as well as other cultists of the Marquis de Sade. The picture culminates in a startling finale of murder and transgression that would do the Marquis proud.
Based on one of de Sade's novels, Philosophy in the Boudoir (under which name the film was also released), the picture takes its time in getting to torture, using a velvet touch at first. Eugenie is initially seduced with gentleness and tenderness. But when she is brought into the fold in a drug-induced state, she is unable to tell whether she dreamed the events or whether they are real; Marianne encourages this ambiguity to let Eugenie connect dots in her own mind, a subtlety that works effectively. There is copious nudity and sexuality present here, but it's quite well done. Several sequences, particularly Marianne's initial seduction of Eugenie, are quite steamy indeed, without being pornographic. Unlike your usual direct-to-video or Skinemax sex scenes, they're quite convincing.
Liljedahl had become a notorious figure a few years earlier in the Swedish picture Inga, which similarly featured a young woman manipulated by her elders. She is hugely effective here, making a believable transition from innocence to corruption. Rohm, a regular fixture in Franco pictures of the period, brings a knowing ennui to her role that suits it well. Christopher Lee found himself in this picture, somewhat through deceptive means, acting as a narrator and playing the part of Dolmance, who is a mentor to Marianne in matters Sadean. His presence lends a definite air of class to the proceedings that helps tremendously in keeping it from just being another exploitation picture.
Despite having one of the most marketable titles in motion picture history, Eugenie (...the Story of Her Journey into Perversion)—not to be confused with several other later films by Franco of the same name and Eugenie de Sade—is far more than an exploitation film. It is thematically complex and features some interesting characters. The concluding sequences, following the nude Eugenie as she attempts to flee from what she has become, are beautifully shot and evocative; in particular the juxtaposition of Liljedahl's body with a string of barbed wire is a memorable shot that will stay with the viewer for a long time. This, together with Justine (1968), also available from Blue Underground, should help dispel the image of Franco as a maker of trashy films; this pair is solidly crafted and deserving of consideration.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Franco rarely shoots in 2.35:1, but the anamorphic widescreen presentation here looks quite nice for a picture that was thought lost. There are a few problems, related to the softness of the source print. In an apparent attempt to produce artificial detail, edge enhancement seems to have been used, creating significant ringing around high contrast objects. For the most part, color is good, with good skintones. There are hellish red sequences during the Sadean ceremonies, and these tend to be a bit oversaturated, with video noise incident. When Marie boats to the island, the water has a fairly digital appearance. However, there is very little damage or speckling on the source print.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: English and French 2.0 mono tracks are provided. While there is a bit of hiss and noise, the dialogue is quite clear and Bruno Nicolai's lounge-music score comes through without distortion or clipping of any kind. In essence, this sounds quite fine for the period. The characters are clearly speaking English, so despite its European origins the English track is the preferable one (and no English subtitles were provided).
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Justine
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Layers Switch: 00h:58m:26s
- Poster and still gallery
A large selection of over 75 color and black & white stills are provided, as well as US and foreign lobby cards. In addition, the pressbook is reproduced; it's too bad that it's impossible to make out the suggested newspaper articles and ballyhoo that might have been used to sell the picture. An anamorphic widescreen trailer in very nice condition is included as well. In addition to the same Franco bio and filmography that appears on the Justine disc, there is a trailer for that picture hidden in an easter egg. Video Watchdog editor and Franco authority Tim Lucas contributes an enthusiastic set of liner notes to boot.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsAn erotically charged and often shocking portrayal of a descent into corruption, aided by some excellent performances. The transfer is quite good, and the extras are worthwhile.
Mark Zimmer 2002-11-04