Friday, December 21, 2007


Jess Franco's EUGENIE DE SADE, starring Soledad Miranda (pictured above) and Paul Muller, has been released a number of times on DVD -- domestically from Wild East, as an Australian R0 import from Force Video, and so forth. However, next month on January 29, Blue Underground will be reissuing this important title -- perhaps the finest and most intimate title in Franco's sprawling filmography -- in its most breathtaking transfer to date. Here, to whet your appetite, are some remarkable advance screen grabs.

The reason why this new release is so much better looking than any other we've seen may have something to do with the title card, which lists the 1970 film under the title EUGENIA with a 1984 copyright.

To the viewer's surprise, the new transfer reveals the film to be full of enticing textures, like the upholstery on this chair, the hanging carpet above the Franval family sofa, the scarlet leather of the thigh-high boots that Eugenie wears as part of her disguise in Berlin.

For my money, this is the single greatest closeup in Franco's filmography and I prize it more highly than the closing shot of Greta Garbo in QUEEN CHRISTINA. The transfer is so sharp, as it moves even more closely into Eugenie's face as she looks on adoringly at her father that you can see the exhaustion limning Soledad's eyes and read her thoughts. In the accompanying 20m interview with Jess Franco, he reveals for the first time that Soledad was beset by premonitions of her early death throughout the shooting of what she was convinced would be her last film. She lived to make three more.

Jess Franco as the inquisitive author Attila Tanner.

The hot red lighting in the nightclub during the band's performance is rendered with zero chromatic noise, and the colors of Andres Monales' scarf really pop.

Here's Paul Muller in a closeup that reveals more detail in his face than was delivered by the earlier, comparatively soft transfers. Likewise, a light smattering of freckles can sometimes be seen peppered over the bridge of Soledad Miranda's nose.

What ultimately makes the Blue Underground disc definitive, however, is its provision of not only the (frankly not-so-hot) English dub track, but also the French soundtrack with optional English subtitles. For some reason, during the scene of Eugenie's strip-tease in the midst of a drinking game, the accompanying dance cue is different on the two soundtracks -- and far more effective in the French track, as is the film's drama in general.
In David Gregory's interview featurette "Franco de Sade," the writer-actor-director discusses his teenage discovery of the forbidden works of the Marquis de Sade, his love for the characters in this story of incest and crime, and also the late Soledad Miranda. He denies any suggestion that he and she were lovers, insisting that their relationship was more like a father and daughter -- rather a suspicious comment to make in tandem with a movie like this, but one which I suspect is true. He also goes on the record for the first time about eerie details of Soledad's oltre-tumba endorsement of her successor, Lina Romay.

All in all, an ideal disc of one of the great transgressive horror films of the 1970s, which Blue Underground is releasing on the same day as another Franco title, CECILIA, a picturesque piece of '80s erotica also known as Aberraciones sexuales de una mujer casada.

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