Eugenie (1969) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Back in the late 60's and early 60's, the infamous grade-z director Jess Franco really got to be quite the specialist in DeSade adaptations. He followed his successful Justine with not one but two films named Eugenie, both based on Sade works, in 1969 and 1970.

This one was made in 1969, starring Christopher Lee (to this day he denies knowing about the explicit scenes). The original 18th century story has been updated to the 1960's, and relocated to Murcia, Spain. It is also called:

De Sade 70
Decameron francese
Eugenie... the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion
Les Inassouvies
La Isla de la Muerte
Die Jungfrau und die Peitsche
Philosophy in the Boudoir
Die Wildkaetze.



  • Maria Roehm and Marie Liljedahl are the principals, and they showed their breasts and buns. Liljedahl also flashed her pubes occasionally, including one clear shot in a bathtub.


  • Jack Taylor showed his buns. There is no male frontal nudity.

This film is based on Sade's "Philosophy of the Bedroom", while Franco's 1970 "Eugenie" is based on Sade's "Eugenie de Franval". Ah, that zany, wacky Marquis. I get it. He named everyone Eugenie - just another one of his sadistic tricks. It's so boring with modern novels when they give all the characters different names. We need to have some marquises in today's world to liven things up. The 18th century had Marquis de Sade, we have Marky de Mark. Progress or not? You be the judge.

The genre review sites (linked below) seemed to think this was an absolute masterpiece of its kind. Let me translate that for those of you who are not into Euro-cult flesh-and-fright cinema from the 60's - "it doesn't suck as bad as these films usually do". Director Jesus Franco says pretty much exactly the same thing. He is amazingly insightful and objective when discussing his films on the special features of this DVD. He says, "of all my films, I hate this the least". Actually, I hate Justine and Gritos en la Noche less than this one, but I know exactly what he means. It is not bad. How many cheapozoid exploitation films are shot in a 2.35 aspect ratio? The colors are quite good in many scenes, they found some interesting locales in southern Spain, Franco was uncharacteristically subdued with the zoom lens, and the film boasts an original Bruno Nicolai score. Of his 180+ films, this is probably one of the top 10, and the DVD transfer is excellent. 

But don't confuse that with a recommendation. The film is for genre and Franco cultists only. Franco seems to be an intelligent man, with many talented friends like Orson Welles, and nearly fifty years in the business. Unfortunately, he has never been able to translate that intelligence and experience into performance. Quite to the contrary. To be brutally honest, his most recent films are actually much worse than the ones he made in the 60's. 

And those were pretty bad to begin with.

Here are some examples of other things you will see which are not so positive in this simple story of a young girl corrupted in a weekend of debauchery:

1. Scenes go on interminably with no additional point. For example, there is one scene of a woman on top of a man, making love. With the camera almost stationary, they kiss. We see her buns. They kiss some more. They keep kissing. Nothing else happens. Nobody moves. They keep kissing ....

2. Establishing scenes drag on. We learn that the corrupted young woman is taken to an island. How do we know this? We see the friggin' boat take her there from the mainland, virtually in real time, photographed from a great distance away, as the small craft negotiates its way between some small cays. Beautiful scenery, but oh-so dull.

3. I'd say about five minutes of footage are just plain out-of-focus. In several scenes the actors walk out of their focal point, and they stay blurry while we watch the photographer fumble to re-focus the shot. The first time it happens, you'll make a mental note to check your vision.  Eventually, you'll realize it isn't you.

4. There is a black guy who plays the guitar and sings in the background of several scenes, his songs sort of commenting on the action. Do you think Franco saw Cat Ballou? "It's whippin' day. In Wolf City, Wyomin' ....."

The genre sites really got carried away with their enthusiasm for this DVD. The transfer resulted in a good version of a low-budget 30 year old film, and the colors are vivid.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 2.35:1.

  • trailer

  • 20 minute interview with director Jess Franco

  • large still gallery, with many shots not in the actual film

The liner notes say "unmistakably an art film in exploitation guise, Eugenie was not critically well-received". This may have had less to do with its marketing as an exploitation film and more to do with the fact that those critics were sober at the time they watched it.

That and the fact that their bribes were not sufficiently generous.

On the other hand, Franco points out that it was one of his most successful films financially. Of course, you have to realize that such a comment must be evaluated in relative terms. He doesn't mean that it was the Titanic of its day, or that he was able to go out and buy his dream castle from the profits, but that it was an exceptionally strong performer in their usual channels of distribution.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.2/10, but that is based on nine votes. I suppose it will finish around 5.0.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C. A worthwhile acquisition for your collection if you are into Euro-cult cinema. If not, well, it's pretty much what you expect.

Return to the Movie House home page