A pretty young lady named Odile (Alicia Principe) is vacationing at a nice hotel in Spain where the odd couple of are staying in the room across from her spend their time more or less voyeuristically spying on her. The two obviously dig her quite a bit and so soon enough, they invite her to come home with them to meet an older couple. She agrees, and soon the husband (Mauro Ribera) has obviously started falling for her. Things take a very drastic turn, however, when it comes out that the wife (Mamie Kaplan) has got some rather kinky interests of her own that she has Odile in mind for.
Far from a fast moving film, The Sexual Story Of O definitely takes its time getting going and the vast majority of the running time is made up by the typical softcore bump and grind action that most people associate with the genre. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you appreciate Principe's lovely feminine features, it does start to get old after a while. Thankfully, if you stick with the film it pays off. Getting to the end of the movie could be a chore for some but the last fifteen minutes or so are actually genuinely suspenseful and rather tense. Franco lets things build so slowly during the first hour that you almost expect the film to stay that way but the ending does come out of left field and as such it works very well, blending some seriously psychedelic surrealist visuals with some unsettling set pieces.
In terms of production values, the film was likely shot for little money but in the director's defense, every penny of it is up there on the screen. The location photography is top notch and even when nothing is really happening in the picture, if nothing else it looks great. The soundtrack works well in the context of the film. Even if it's rather unremarkable, it does add some much needed atmosphere to the lengthy sex scenes that make up the bulk of the film's first two thirds.
Also worth noting is Principe's performance. While she doesn't have quite the same screen presence as Franco's better known female regulars like Lina Romay or Soledada Miranda, she is an extremely attractive woman and as such she's definitely well cast here as a somewhat insatiable young woman. Her acting skills may never go down in history but if nothing else she's incredibly easy on the eyes and she proves to be competent enough to carry the picture.
Ultimately, this is one of many 'cash in' pictures that Jess Franco has been involved with (and like The Inconfessable Orgies Of Emmanuelle it's exploiting the success of a Just Jaeckin film) and when pigeonholed into making pictures like this, Franco is rarely at his best. That being said, he does a pretty decent job with this one. It's far from his best work but it's well made, fairly well performed, and beautifully shot. The pace is slow, the sex completely gratuitous, but in the context of what this movie was supposed to be, Franco succeeds.
Severin presents the film in a sterling 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that really makes the film look a whole lot better than it actually is. Color reproduction looks great, print damage is kept to a minimum and save for a little bit of grain here and there things look really clean. Detail in both the foreground and the background of the picture is nice and strong and while some scenes were obviously meant to look a little on the soft side, for the most part the image is quite strong.
Presented in Spanish with optional English subtitles, the soundtrack is a tiny bit flat but otherwise sounds just fine on this disc. There are no problems to report with hiss or distortion, everything is properly balanced and dialogue is clean and clear. The subtitles are easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors.
The only real extra feature on this release is an entertaining on camera video interview with director Jess Franco who discusses his love of the Marquis De Sade's writing and his disdain for Alicia Principe and Just Jaeckin's work. As usual, Franco is candid and quirky, never mixing words or shying away from giving his honest opinion on whatever he wants to talk about. The running time is just over seventeen-minutes in length.
Aside from that, we get some animated menus and a chapter selection option. A still gallery or a trailer would have been very welcome, though how readily available materials were for this film is really anyone's guess.
The Sexual Story Of O isn't a masterpiece but it's very well shot and as such it's a better than average skin flick. Severin's presentation contains only the interview in terms of supplements but it looks good and it sounds just fine. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.