Emanuelle In America

Emanuelle In America

Of all the Emanuelle Nera movies made by Aristide Massaccesi (aka Joe D'Amato - ABSURD; BEYOND THE DARKNESS etc) and starring Laura Gemser, this 1976 effort is undoubtedly the most infamous.

The script is pure B-movie hokum, and even more muddled than the enjoyably nonsensical EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS (1977). In short, Emanuelle (Gemser looking painfully thin at times) leads a dual life as both a fashion photographer and roving reporter for a New York newspaper.

The film begins with Emanuelle in a studio shooting a series of tasteful nude photos. Upon leaving, she is accosted by the puritanical boyfriend of one of her top models. With a gun to her face, the boyfriend tells Emanuelle he is going to kill her for corrupting his girlfriend by using her to sell sex. Naturally, then, Emanuelle escapes the threat of murder by performing an impromptu blowjob!!

After this absurd opening, the action cuts suddenly to a gymnasium, where Emanuelle's old friend Joe promises her he has a great story for her newspaper. He tells her of a 'cat' named Eric Van Daren, who has set up a high-class harem. So, equipped with a hidden camera the likes of which would make James Bond envious, Emanuelle goes undercover and selflessly throws herself into the harem - and the beds of men and women alike - all for the sake of a good scoop.

Each woman in the harem is given a name of the Zodiac (Emanuelle becomes Virgo), and allowed free reign of the luxury villa and it's swimming pool until their 'master' - the middle-aged millionaire Van Daren - calls upon their services.

Highlights of this early detour include some sumptuous underwater lesbian action, an erotic cameo by Paola Senatore (CANNIBAL FEROX etc) and a very lucky horse named Pedro

While at the harem, Emanuelle is introduced to a wealthy guest, the Duke (Gemser late real-life husband, Gabriele Tinti). A brief conversation between the two results in the Duke inviting Emanuelle to a party at his 'Golden Palace' in Venice. Emanuelle accepts, and so it's off to Venice we go for some tedious travelogue footage.

After bedding both the Duke and his Duchess, Emanuelle finally gets to attend the aristocrats' party - and, eyeing up the male talent, makes a play for the most ludicrously '70s' type man in the room. Alas, he's already spoken for, as a middle-aged lady explains to Emanuelle that she has hired the man from an exclusive club for single women, based in the Caribbean.

Yes, you guessed it, Emanuelle sees the chance of another headline story - and within minutes she's in a taxi on her way to said singles club!

Snooping around armed only with a microscopic camera hidden in her gold necklace, Emanuelle ventures through the resort's grounds, spying on the randy ladies and their male slaves as various sexual fantasies are fulfilled. It's here that Emanuelle catches sight of a snuff film being projected against a wall as a young couple fuck while watching it. Shocked (though you'd never guess, thanks to Gemser's ineffectual acting), Emanuelle decides it's time to flee the island - only to be captured and have her revelatory photographs confiscated and destroyed!

From thereon in the film gains momentum as Emanuelle escapes the island, and upon her return to New York determines to track down the source of the snuff footage.

It's a shame this plot device wasn't introduced earlier in the film, as the first half of EMANUELLE IN AMERICA suffers badly from an aimless script and redundant episodic forays into soft porn. The word 'meandering' seems to be an apt way of describing the first 40-odd minutes!

However, the latter half is worth sticking around for - the film develops a story, delivers some eye-popping visuals and approaches moments that border on the genuinely disturbing.

The snuff scenes are very convincingly realised. Massaccesi's hand-held camera and scratched film technique succeed in giving the film a dirty authentic look, while Gianetto De Rossi's (THE BEYOND; ZOMBI 2 etc) FX work cannot be faulted. The images may pass by thankfully quickly, but these unflinching scenes of sexual violence may still shock some viewers. We're talking nipples being hacked off; meat hooks rammed up bloodied vaginas; giant dildos filled with hot tar forced down unwilling throats; rape; torture, etc.

All of which arrives so late in the film that it's almost like a bizarre afterthought. The same can be said of the hardcore sex scenes (graphic fellatio; penetration; ejaculations) - the movie starts off by offering simple soft-focus nudity and blatantly simulated sex, then suddenly degenerates (escalates?!) into a few oddly placed minutes of hardcore porno action. Very strange indeed!

Still, it's these extreme scenes - and the movie's inability to decide what genre it wants to belong to - that have earned EMANUELLE IN AMERICA it's cult reputation over the last 25 years.

The disc on offer from Blue Underground is great.

The picture quality (1.85:1 anamorphic) is stunning considering the age and obscurity of this title in it's full uncut form. Although grain is evident and colours occasionally look faded, this has been newly mastered from original vault materials and it shows. Sharp and clear, it's doubtful we'll ever see a better presentation.

The mono soundtrack is available in English, French and Italian. As there are no subtitles available, I concentrated on the English track. This was clear and hiss-free, but quiet - I had to turn the volume up a couple of notches more than usual.

Extras:

"Joe D'Amato And The Black Emanuelles" is a 13 minute video interview with the late director, and is actually footage lifted from the feature-length documentary JOE D'AMATO TOTALLY UNCUT. This is the first time this footage has been available on DVD with English subtitles, and so makes for very worthwhile viewing. It's video quality, but that hardly matters - you'll still enjoy Massaccessi's light-hearted anecdotes about porn star "Little Hercules", and the director's obvious fondness for his leading lady.

Speaking of whom, next up is an 11 minute with the black beauty herself. This is rather quiet and muffled but as it's spoken in Italian and subtitled in English anyway, it'll hardly ruin your enjoyment of what I personally consider to be a fantastic addition to this package. The wealthy photo gallery that accompanies the interview is very nice too!

There's also a 22 page text essay on the history of the Emanuelle films by David Flint, which is a good read and has even been complemented by some great stills, such as international poster artwork for many of the films being assessed.

Rounding off the extras are extensive talent bios and selected filmographies for Massaccesi and Gemser, again both compiled by David Flint.

The film is graced with 28 chapters (not bad for a 100 minute feature) and is presented in a keepcase packaging. Format is Region 0 NTSC.

After all that's been whispered about the 'full uncensored' version of this film over the years - and indeed the serious doubts that a complete version even existed, it's great to see it's finally arrived (horse masturbation seen and all!) looking better than we could've ever dared to dream. That alone qualifies this disc as one of THE most vital exploitation releases of the year.

Whether or not the film's actually any good is another matter altogether!!

Review by Stu Willis


 
Released by Blue Underground
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
Interview with Director Joe D'Amato, Audio Interview with Star Laura Gemser, Poster & Still Gallery, The Unofficial Emmanuelle Phenomenon by David Flint, Talent Bios
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