The Sexual Story of O (1984)

a.k.a Historia sexual de O
An erotic and well filmed, if quite slow paced S&M fantasy from director Jess Franco. Severin Films USA R0 DVD.

The Film

Somewhere in Southern Spain a young American woman named Odine is the subject of attention by a Spanish couple. They have sex while she watches, and soon invite her to join them, however it soon emerges that the couple have more than just sex on their minds, and plan to sell this girl to a perverted couple who live on a island, and who enjoy playing some violent S&M games - speaking only very basic Spanish, Odine is blissfully unaware of just what is going to happen....

One of Jess Franco's many films from the 1980s that he shot for the Spanish company Golden Film, The Sexual Story of O is a typical example of the productions from this period - with a tiny cast and minimal, slow paced plot. For films like The Inconfessable Orgies of Emanuelle (1982), this was their downfall, becoming no more than a string of dull sex scenes - here however, Franco has manged to use the film's limited dialogue to create a coherent plot with some decent characterisation. Loosely based on Anne Desclos' novel, itself inspired by the works of the Marquis de Sade, the film at time plays out like a version of de Sade's Perversion in the Boudoir (filmed by Franco in 1970). The rather unsettling idea of a woman completely unaware of the fate we can see building (thanks to her poor understanding of Spanish) gives the film a disturbing atmosphere throughout the second half, and it eventually builds to a rather superbly strange climax with a fitting conclusion.

Franco's direction is strong here, going easy on the zoom lens, although like many of his 1980s films he does let some of the sex scenes drag on a little, almost to the point of boredom - fortunately though, not to the same extent as The Inconfessable Orgies of Emanuelle (1982) and most of them are genuinely erotic. The climactic S&M scenes are wonderfully filmed and are certainly worth the price of admission alone, the film is well served by Franco's self composed light soundtrack.

Franco is certainly a director who changed his style completely over the decades and it is very hard to compare this, and his other 1980s titles, to his better known works for Harry Alan Towers or Erwin C. Dietrich. However, The Sexual Story of O certainly ranks as one of his best Golden era films, with an unsettling storyline and a superbly filmed climax. The slow pacing and quite explicit sex means that this is certainly not a film for everyone but Franco fans should enjoy it, as should fans of the more untamed European erotica. Partly recommended.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? No-one of note
Directed by anyone interesting? Jess Franco - one of the biggest names in Euro-cult cinema, boasting over 180 film credits from the blacki and while horror The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962) to the all star de Sade inspired Justine (1968).
Any violence or gore? Some S&M whipping, but shown artistically with only a little blood.
Any sex? Various female nude scenes, some male nudity, and lots of sex, often quite erotic.
Who is it for?
For Franco fans, especially those who enjoy his 1980s films, and fans of the darker parts of Erotica.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
The print is very strong, with almost no print damage, and very good colours. Only a mild layer of grain.
Audio Spanish mono audio (with some English dialogue). Sounds strong throughout.
Subtitles English - this also translates the occasional English lines, and occasionally includes the random grunts and moans of the characters during the sex scenes (rather annoying and distracting, but fortunately minimal).
Extras The disc includes:
  • Franco's O - Another very interesting interview with Franco, discussing the film's origins, cast and production history as well as voicing his opinions on Just Jaeckin's 1975 film version of the story and the Marquis de Sade himself. Franco speaks accented English, optional subtitles are provided. (15m)
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other regions? None known.
Cuts? The film is believed to be completely uncut. Spanish language print.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 26th April 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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