Synopsis: Esteemed author Albert Radeck is the toast of the Berlin literati and the object of his stepdaughter Eugenie’s affections. However, when his doe-eyed little darling unmasks her sophisticated father figure as a sex-crazed psychopath obsessed with perpetrating the perfect crime, she transforms from innocent ward to a willing accomplice. The deadly duo seduce and destroy everyone in their path – until Eugenie’s charms spark a jealous rage in Albert that threatens to consume them both.
Prolific filmmaker Jess Franco (Marquis De Sade’s Justine, Sadomania) again brings the writings of the Marquis de Sade to bloody life with the aid of the sinister Paul Muller (Eugenie…The Story Of Her Journey Into Perversion), and the beguiling beauty of Soledad Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed In Ecstasy) and Alice Arno (Justine De Sade).
eyelights: Soledad Miranda. the picture’s sexiness.
eyesores: the dubbing.
I honestly have no idea what the story is with ‘Eugénie’. It was released in 1970, right after ‘Eugenie‘ (note the subtle difference in spelling), which was made in 1969. Both were made by Jesús Franco and are based on de Sade’s works.
So why were there two similarly-titled films made and released back-to-back, by the same filmmaker, and, to make things more confusing, featuring the same actor as Eugénie’s father – even though the stories are relatively different?
Franco was clearly on a streak of making de Sade-inspired motion pictures, having made 1968’s ‘Marquis de Sade: Justine‘, but I don’t understand why anyone would make seemingly indistinguishable films like this. Seriously, marketing the second picture must have been hell.
The matter is so confused that I can’t even be sure of the titles under which each film was released. Heck, even the imdb can’t clear it up, erroneously dating this one to 1974 (which is impossible, given its star, Soledad Miranda, died a tragic death in 1970!).
Thankfully, someone did a Wiki page on de Sade in pop culture, and it totally demystified the situation.
It turns out that the first ‘Eugenie’ film was based on de Sade’ ‘La Philosophie dans le boudoir’, which features a protagonist by the name of Eugénie. However, this one is based on his short story ‘Eugénie de Franval’, which was part of a collection called ‘Les Crimes de l’amour, Nouvelles héroïques et tragiques’.
This story is about Eugénie, whose unconditional love and devotion to her father, an established author, leads her to explore de Sade’s philosophy with the same fascination as he does. From that point onward, she decides to join him on streak of murders, manipulating their intended victims together. Meanwhile, a rival author (played by Franco himself) is watching them…
Having not read any de Sade (and most certainly not planning to), I couldn’t say how close to the source material this adaptation is. But it has been set in the 20th century instead of its proper time. This doesn’t really have any bearing on the story which rarely incorporates modern trappings. Likely the choice of the setting was due to budget limitations.
The key ingredient here is Soledad Miranda, as Eugénie. She completely captured my attention, even though she is truly too girlish to be provocative in a traditional sense. Miranda managed to imbue her with innocence and wanton curiosity at once, which is notable. If not for her, I can only imagine how unsuccessful the picture would have been – case in point, its predecessor.
Thanks to Soledad, ‘Eugénie’ actually has its fair share of sexy moments: the way that she takes hold of her budding sexuality and seduces men and women alike, with a mixture of vulnerability and quiet confidence is remarkable. The fact that she is attractive, as are her lovers, obviously helps, but the way that she is played is absolutely perfect.
A note of warning: ‘Eugénie’ portrays a forbidden relationship with her father. While this is only actually explicitly shown in a very brief moment, it is hinted at many times over – including in an alluring sequence where she playfully attempts to draw her father to her bedroom. This might upset some viewers and should be taken into consideration.
Despite this element, ‘Eugénie’ is so far my favourite of the de Sade-related films that I’ve seen (including ‘Sade’ and ‘Quills’, which I saw in a double-feature over a dozen years ago). It’s also probably my favourite of the Jess Franco films that I’ve seen (not that this is saying much, given his output – while I find him intriguing, I also recognize the generally poor quality of his films).
‘Eugénie’ is no masterpiece, obviously, but it’s a coherent motion picture, something that Franco’s films rarely are. It also features some half-decent performances and a story that holds together relatively nicely – if one ignores the minor lapses in logic that occur from time to time, of course. For a low-budget European ’70s production, one could do way worse.
Date of viewing: June 18, 2013