In 1969, Spanish filmmaker Jesús Franco released his first adaptation of a Marquis de Sade book, Justine. This started a tradition of exploitation films made by Franco, often influenced by the perversion found in the Marquis de Sade’s literary work. Only a year after the release of Justine, Franco would once again adapt a book by the Marquis de Sade, this time Philosophy in the Boudoir. The British film was released as Eugenie… The Story of Her Journey into Perversion and was only the first attempts by the Spanish filmmaker to adapt this particular novel. Along with a continued fascination with the author, Eugenie represents the type of film Franco is best known for, containing a fascination with sexuality combined with the violence and shock value of horror.
While Justine was about the prevailing morality of the title protagonist, Eugenie is a horror film about the moral corruption of a young girl by two incestuous siblings looking to exploit her for their own pleasure. After her father is blackmailed, young innocent Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl) is sent for a weekend away with Madame Saint Ange (Maria Rohm) and her perverted brother Mirvel (Jack Taylor) on their island paradise. This private escape is the setting for the couple’s depravity, and they turn all of their attention to Eugenie, who they regularly drug and experiment with sexually. This exploration of carnal pleasures turns into something else entirely, clearly inspired by the work of the Marquis de Sade in a meta twist on the narrative.
There isn’t much in terms of plot within Eugenie, but instead a collection of dream-like and nightmarish sequences of sexuality and violence. Although Blue Underground released Eugenie on a 3-disc Blu-ray set in 2015, this 4K Ultra HD gives an even more pristine presentation of Franco’s vision, uncut and restored from the original camera negative. This allows for audiences to see the film as Franco intended, including a number of purposefully out-of-focus shots, presumably to avoid more explicit nudity than is already included. Although it was likely shocking for its time, Eugenie is a lot tamer than some of Franco’s later work, at least in terms of what is shown. In terms of the corruption of the characters within the film, this is clearly a Franco film.
The 4K Ultra HD release of Eugenie also comes with a Blu-ray disc, which contains a majority of the special features as well. The 4K disc has a new commentary track with film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth, along with the film’s theatrical trailer. These extras are also on the Blu-ray disc, along with a handful of other special features. There is a new featurette containing an interview with star Jack Taylor, along with another containing interviews with Franco, along with writer/producer Harry Alan Towers, Liljedahl, and Christopher Lee, who has a small role in the film. There is another featurette with interviews by Stephen Thrower, author of “Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco.” There is also a poster and still gallery, newly expanded from previous releases by Blue Underground.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 5 /10
Special Features: 7.5/10