You know how it is: you toil all day long in the sweltering jungle heat, chopping away at trees for no apparent reason while soldiers on horseback whip you remorselessly.

Itís enough to drive a man to distraction. In the case of strong silent type Manuel (Rodrigo Obergon), a political prisoner caught up in the Colombian Civil War of the early 1950s, it inspires him to harbour thoughts of escape ... at any price.

So when fellow prisoner Rafael approaches Manuel one evening with a well-staged escape plan, our protagonist agrees to take part Ė on the proviso that they also include recently injured friend Luigi in their plot ... so the guards have something to shoot at while the others flee.

The plan works, sort of, and Manuel is the sole survivor of the ensuing chase through the dense forage. En route to his late pal Rafaelís contactís hideout, where heís been promised a means of transport for his intended trek across miles of deserted plains, he encounters a party for the bourgeoisie Ė and decides to take advantage of the situation by kidnapping wealthy businessmanís daughter Amparo (Eleonora Vallone).

Following a peculiarly bloodless shootout between Manuel and the military police, he takes his sexy hostage into the neighbouring desert on horseback in a relentless pursuit of freedom.

Along the way, Manuel enjoys taunting spoilt rich kid Amparo by demonstrating to her how he was treated as a prisoner. To this end, she endures beatings, whippings and unreasonably small shares of his daily food rations. No wonder she initially hates him so.

But, as the long passages of travelling through the beating sun and shivering round campfires on an evening drag on, Manuelís base instincts start to kick in. He masturbates over Amparo as she sleeps one night; the following morning, he not only shares his meal with her but even asks for her name.

However, with such a huge social divide existing between them, and the prospect of Amparoís influential father baying for the outlawís blood, can they ever form a true bond? Especially when Manuel is still prone to bursts of outrageous animalistic violence such as forcing her to perform fellatio upon him?

Nello Rossatiís 1985 film looks a lot more dated than that, seeming more like a product of the late 1960s in its drab visuals and anti-establishment tone. An angry political shriek is felt throughout Franco Reggianiís sparse but earnest screenplay, while the performances are wild-eyed and theatrical without exception.

Crude cinematography fails to capture the obvious splendour of the great outdoors at the filmmakersí disposal; the natural wonder of the gorgeous Vallone is never exploited to its fullest either. Even the violence is felt more as a mood than in any explicit detail (the script is the most aggressive aspect of the film: lines such as "you fucking scum sucking bitch!" are as hilarious as they are glaringly Ďincorrectí in this day and age).

Meandering and largely aimless, EROTIC ESCAPE also seems to be so cheaply produced that I can only assume the jungle-based sets are remnants from a more worthy production. And yet, strangely, it succeeds in holding the viewerís attention.

Be it the back coverís misleading promise of loads of nudity or the misconception that this is a girls-on-the-run flick, or maybe just the fact that itís perhaps the most shoddily conceived spin on the B-movie jungle caper genre possible (actually it quickly mutates along more Western lines), Rossatiís messy melodrama is oddly engaging.

Itís crap, but in its own quietly compelling manner. Right down to the obligatorily obtuse ending.

One 7 Moviesí disc is region free and NTSC encoded. It presents the film in anamorphic 1.85:1 which may or may not be its original aspect ratio, such is the ugliness of the photography and framing.

Images are soft and blacks are faded to the point of appearing blue on the print used. Colours take on a worn quality and specks are evident for the duration. The battered look somehow fits the filmís poverty row production values.

Whether or not the film is uncut, I canít say. Certain scenes do cut away erratically, but some of these are so seemingly innocuous that itís tough to tell whether this has been censored or is just really, really badly made.

Italian 2.0 mono audio fares adequately throughout. Optional English subtitles do their job for the most part, despite an annoying typo almost every time an apostrophe is called for.

The disc opens with a static main menu page. From there, an animated scene-selection menu allows access to the film via 12 chapters.

There are no extra features.

EROTIC ESCAPE is not a good film, but it is an inexplicably enjoyable one. Maybe I just have atrocious taste. Itís angry, itís ugly and it wallows for the large part in unconvincing misogyny.

One 7 Moviesí DVD does its best with what I have no doubt were the only materials available to them. The disc is sparse, but to see the film made available on an English-friendly DVD is a minor revelation in itself.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by One 7 Movies
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review