HISTORIA SEXUAL DE O
Cast: Alicia Principe, Carmen Carrion, Daniel Katz, Mamie Kaplan, Mauro Rivera/DP: Joan Almirall -Techniscope/Music: Pablo Villa/Directed by Jess Franco
[Released by KING HOME VIDEO, Spain; SEVERIN FILMS on DVD, US]
Odile (Alicia Principe), a beautiful but naive young woman vacationing in Spain, attracts the attentions of a voyeuristic couple who live across from her hotel. The couple spy on her as she lounges around naked, and when they invite her over for a session of group sex, Odile gives in immediately.
After spending days enjoying this menage a trois, the couple take Odile to the villa of the wealthy Wanda Von Karlstein, where the sex continues. Wanda’s perverted husband drugs Odile’s drink and rapes her. When she awakens, Odile is chained to a bed, and her captors have sado-erotic torture and death in mind. One of her abductors has a sudden attack of remorse after finding her mutilated body, murders the Von Karlsteins with some impulsive shotgun blasts, and walks into the ocean carrying Odile’s dead body. This final scene mirrors the ending of Val Lewton’s classic RKO horror, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and Franco’s own LA COMTESSE PERVERSE. The appearance of Odile’s tormentors in their formal S&M gear is a direct “quote” from EUGENIE…THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1970), except that this time it’s shot through diffusion filters which turn the image into gorgeous splashes of primary hued illuminations.
HISTORIA SEXUAL DE O is superior to most of Franco’s tedious sex-a-thons of the 1980s. The flowery, tropical locations and gorgeous cinematography offers a counterpoint to the downbeat melodrama. A melancholy female vocal sets a sombre tone throughout, which Franco maintains until the very last shot of the blazing sun beating down on the aftermath of violence and death. There are many effective visual and aural touches throughout, which amplify the theme of corrupted innocence. For instance, the victim is first seen wandering in an idyllic garden reading excepts from Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead,” foreshadowing her own fate with a heavyweight literary reference, and it’s not out of place here. It is also significant that her abductors use Beethoven’s famous chorus from his Ninth Symphony to seduce her attention, underscoring the theme of Old World decadence preying on Odile’s New World gullibility.
As Odile, Alicia Principe (a.k.a. Alicia Pedreira) offers sensuality and modernity with a tragic ignorance of the brutal ways of the world. Exotic looking Carmen Carrion and the gaunt, sinister Daniel Katz are well-cast as the wealthy tormentors. Katz’s impotent freak-out while raping Odile is especially blood-curdling.
There is also a subtle sociological subtext similar to the situation in Franco’s 1973 THE PERVERSE COUNTESS, wherein upper caste villains use a financially struggling lower-class couple to provide victims for their blood lust. This inequity creates a scene in which a henchman turns on his vicious employers.
The scene in which the only survivor of the massacre carries Odile’s body into the water is also lifted from the end of THE PERVERSE COUNTESS. The long, excruciating sequence detailing Odile’s torture and death is painful to watch, as chains, whips, and studded medieval-style weapons are used to strip away her flesh. Franco encourages us to become emotionally engaged with Odile, which ratchets the level of intensity even higher. Decadence and death await those with too much time on their hands in the world of Jess France.
A visually entrancing erotic nightmare, HISTORIA SEXUAL DE O is highly recommended.
Daniel White’s lyrical score, highlighted by a melancholy female vocal line, was first deployed in the Paul Naschy crime-horror epic, CRIMSON (1973), a Franco-Spanish co production helmed by Juan Fortuny and featuring a number of Franco/Eurocine regulars (Olivier Mathot, Claude Boisson).
Given the recycling of elements from LA COMTESSE PERVERSE and EUGENIE…HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION, HISTORIA is hardly original but what matters is the development of earlier themes and the aesthetic sophistication with which they are transformed into something new. Franco often tells the same stories over and over but always in different contexts and with fascinating new twists which reveal him as a spinner of 1001 Nights of sexual delirium.
Katz and Carrion were also an impressive dirty team in MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE (1983).
The Severin DVD of this is slightly different from the KING VIDEO VHS and Spanish DVD, missing a final pan up to the sun which is present in both those presentations.
I’ll continue looking into Jess Franco’s GOLDEN FILMS INTERNACIONAL productions with a review of the dazzling LA NOCHE DE LOS SEXOS ABIERTOS (1981), also once released by KING VIDEO in Spain and very much in need of a remastered HD release.
And more entries into JESS FRANCO: THE XXX FILES are upcoming soon. So stay tuned….