JESS FRANCO MONTH: Eugenie (1970)

An adaptation and modern-day update of Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom, this was the second de Sade film made by Jess Franco*, but by no means the last. In fact, it’s not even the last movie called Eugenie that he would make. While this one is Eugenie… The Story of Her Journey into Perversion (or De Sade 70 or Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Boudoir), there’s also the better-known — and Soledad Miranda-starring — Eugenie de Sade.

Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl, IngaDorian Gray) has spent her entire life in a convent and despite an exterior that drives men and women wild with list, she’s inexperienced in the ways of the world. Her father (Paul Muller, NanaBarbed Wire Dolls) wants to bed Madame Saint Ange (the wife of producer Harry Alan Towers who appears in 99 Women, Venus In Furs and The Boody Judge amongst other movies; don’t judge her being in this as nepotism, because she’s amazing in this movie), who agrees as long as she can take Eugenie to her secluded island mansion, where she and her step-brother Mirvel (Jack Taylor, whose career in exploitation movies took him all over the world) can seduce her and probably each other and definitely everyone and play the kind of strange incestual games that only the super rich seem to play.

Sir Christopher Lee also shows up as the narrator for all this wallowing and also as Dolmance, the leader of a cult of fiends that drug young women and beat them with whips and yeah, Sir Christopher claims he had no idea what kind of movie he was in, which I find hilarious, because this wouldn’t be the last time he’d work with Franco. Providing his own wardrobe — the smoking jacket he wore in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace — Lee claimed that he was unaware there was a nude woman on the sacrificial altar behind him, as Franco and crew had wrapped drapery over her that they’d yank off as soon as the camera started and would then recover her when he was done with his scene. I mean, I love Jess, but sometimes he can barely focus the camera. One wonders how he’d ever had the chicanery and ability to pull one over on a man that was once quite literally a secret agent.

This movie feels like a dream. I’ve said that of other Franco movies, but trust me, a much better realized and better shot dream, with a score by Bruno Nicolai that makes it seem way classier than it is.

*The first is Marquis de Sade: Justine.

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