Blue Underground // Unrated // $24.99 // November 5, 2002
Review by Buzz Burgess | posted November 27, 2002
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Graphical Version

The Movie
Marquis de Sade, a frenchman born in 1740, was known for his lifelong quest of brutal fetishes, activity rumored to be a result of repeated naked floggings by his Jesuit teachers for his insolence. His subsequent acts, cause for people of reason and morals to recoil in terror, provided the Marquis with sensations of ecstasy. Specifically, the physical and emotional domination of another and the violent destruction of youthful innocence. This ecstasy is portrayed by one of the protagonists of "Philosophy in the Boudoir", who exclaims, "How delicious to corrupt, to stifle all semblances of virtue and religion in that young heart!"

"Eugenie, ...the story of her journey into perversion" is based on that Sade novel and revolves around the transformation of Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl), an innocent young girl, from her normal existence into one of perversion, drugs and eventually murder.

Wanting to break away from her nagging parents, Eugenie accompanies her fathers mistress, Marianne Saint-Ange (Maria Rohm), to the island home of a sadistic man named Dolmance (Christopher Lee) who spends most of the movie walking around in a red smoking jacket reciting the works of Marquis de Sade. Marianne and her stepbrother Mirvel (Jack Taylor) immediately set out to break her spirit by repeatedly drugging her into unconsciousness then raping and torturing her, later convincing her it was all a dream. As she falls deeper into these depths, she becomes willingly involved in drugs, sadomasochism and murder.

Released by Blue Underground, this 1969 work by director Jess Franco was believed lost until this release. Very typical of Franco's perverse style, it has the sadistic edge of torture and the exploitation of an young innocent, both which are covered in depth. Add to this, greating film work, exotic scenery, beautiful women and the presence of Christopher Lee and you have a very unusual piece that compels you to keep watching. It is supported to a large degree by the lead star, Liljedahl, renown for her earlier work in the Swedish picture "Inga", which also featured a young woman manipulated by her elders. Once again she makes a good performance in the believable transition from innocence to corruption. Rohm, a regular fixture in Franco pictures of the period, does an equally impressive job in the film. Harry Towers (de plume Peter Welbeck) successfully translated this De Sade story to a workable modern day version. But intense as it is, thankfully, it is really only a mild sampling of the depths of perversion to which De Sade stooped to in real life.

Original Aspect Ratio of 2.35:1 - Widescreen, Anamorphic. This is interesting as Franco rarely worked in this aspect ratio.

A very nice presentation for a film that was believed lost. It is soft overall and appears to have been that way in the source print with some ringing around high contrast areas usually a result of an attempt to enhance detail. Color is good with a bit of video noise present at times. Some dramatic scenes are over saturated for effect using a blood red filter or tint. Very little film damage is apparent and none of these items detract from its viewing.

The sound is English and French dubbed mono with no subtitling. Voices are clear and distortion free with little hiss noticeable. The score, while not Bruno Nicolai's best work, comes through well. The native English track is the better of the two.

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Franco Biography & Filmography
Original Trailer
Production Notes

A documentary, listed on the menu as "Perverse Stories" contains interviews with Franco, Liljedahl and Christopher Lee (Dracula, Lord of the Rings). Lee's part in this interview is especially interesting. The person originally casted for this role died two days earlier. Lee was contacted and told it was just a couple days of filming him reciting Sade's works while wearing his red smoking jacket (the one he wore in his film about Sherlock Holmes). Lee consented, did two days of filming with the cast present, at which point his part was complete. Later, unknown to him, all the scenes were reshot around him replacing the docile clad members with naked members immersed in orgies of perversion and torture. He found out about it some while later when a friend told him it was showing at an x-rated venue down the street. Thirty years after the fact in this interview, he was quite glib about the whole thing stating "Well, I guess now I have appeared in just about every kind of movie than can be made." Harry Alan Towers admits that they probably deceived him "Just a little bit." The documentary also touches on the area of sexuality and censorship. Liljedahl mentions how she was young and didn't know what she was doing, and stopped doing those parts later on. Franco muses on how he only does soft porn and how shocked his distributors were when they saw what he had delivered, expecting much racier stuff.

There is a gallery section, where about 75 black & white and color stills are presented, many R-rated including both foreign and domestic lobby cards. Included is the entire press book. You can get a general feel for the piece, but most of the text is too small to read.

A Franco filmography and biography is there and appears to be the same one as on the "Justine" (1968) DVD. Widescreen trailers for both Eugenie and Justine are present as well.

Final Thoughts
A very complex work supported by a good and enjoyable cast. Viewers of this genre that enjoy works such as "Image", "Justine and "Inga" will definitely want to pick it up to add to their collection of Euro's as well as readers of De Sade's works that desire a softer version in video form. Those critical of Franco's work may have a different feeling after seeing this one.

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