OO-ER, MISSUS. CONTAINS SPOILERS.
I honestly thought I'd run out of Jess Franco movies (even though there are a few that my online rentals library doesn't appear to carry, such as Macumba Sexual, but I suspect I can live without it) but they're still dribbling through. This one is, shockingly, one of Franco's better outings, in the main because most of it (though emphatically not all of it) is in focus and there's very little in the way of his habitual crashzooming in and out of badly photographed pubes. It's beautifully designed, colourfully shot in the bright sunlight rather than the usual damp drizzle, and has an infectiously bouncy if dramatically inappropriate cheesy score by Bruno Nicolai.
Derived from the dirty-old-man scribblings of The Marquis de Sade, Eugenie: The Story Of Her Journey Into Perversion does for the most part what it says on the tin: detailing the violation and corruption of young and innocent Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl) at the hands of a pair of decadent and incestuous libertines (Maria Rohm, Jack Taylor) over a weekend at their frankly fabulous island home. Things start off innocently enough with a bit of nude sunbathing, and lolling around in flimsy dresses, but then the wine is drugged and Taylor gets his end away with both women - or did Eugenie deam it? Next thing she knows, a bunch of Sadean sex cult weirdos in 18th Century costumes show up - and suddenly it's whipping, flogging and screaming, Jack Taylor's attacking the poor girl with bolas and an edited-in Sir Christopher Lee is declaiming absolute waffle in a red velvet smoking jacket. Or did Eugenie dream it?
Hell, did I dream it? Franco had done De Sade before (Justine), and would do De Sade again. In fact, he went back to this same text ten years later - this film's actual onscreen title is The Marquis De Sade's "Philosophy In The Boudoir", which I suppose doesn't have the same lipsmacking exploitation zip about it as The Story Of Her Journey Into Perversion (and that's the title it's better known by). There's plenty of nudity but it's strictly softcore. Rohm is terrific, it's mercifully good to look at although the focus goes from time to time, and the sets and costumes are great. It is up there with my two other favourite Franco movies Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed In Ecstacy, neither of which are great films by any yardsticks other than Jess Franco's.
Yes, I actually quite enjoyed E:TSOHJIP. But why are so many of his movies barely watchable and so few of them any damned good? You'd think after so many years churning out so many films he'd have improved and they'd have got better? This one falls right in his Golden period - 1969/71 - yet even in 1971 he was producing unspeakable boredom in X312: Flight To Hell and the following year he brought us the absolutely atrocious Dracula Prisoner Of Frankenstein and The Erotic Rites Of Frankenstein. How can Franco be so good for one film and so terrible just a few months later? Meantime, the question as to whether it's actually worth stodging through Franco's terrifying back catalogue in order to find those few semi-watchable titles still remains. Personally I'm still not convinced, though this particular movie is actually okay. Nothing better than okay, but it is okay.
Watch and find out for yourself!