• Emanuelle In America (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: November 12th, 2019.
    Director: Joe D’Amato
    Cast: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Roger Browne, Riccardo Salvino, Lars Bloch, Paola Senatore, Lorraine de Selle
    Year: 1977
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    Emanuelle In America – Movie Review:

    One of the most notorious films in director Joe D’Amato’s notoriously sleazy filmography is 1977’s Emanuelle In America, which once again stars the lovely Laura Gemser in the lead role of Emanuelle. This time our hyper-sexual photographer is, when the film opens in New York City, being held at gunpoint by a man involved with one of her models. He intends to kill Emanuelle because she had the gall to photograph his girlfriend in her birthday suit, and in his mind, this makes her impure. She uses her feminine whiles to coerce him into letting her go, and we’re off!

    From there, she gets one of her investigative photojournalist gigs and winds up travelling the globe and, as Emanuelle is wont to do, gets involved in various sexual shenanigans, including a lovely girl on girl sequence with an uncredited by instantly identifiable Lorraine de Selle (best known to Eurocult and horror fans for her appearance in Cannibal Ferox). After that, she watches an orgy where a girl pops out of a cake and, shortly after that, winds up investigating a snuff film operation before then heading off to a tropical island destination intended for women of a certain pedigree. Along the way she helps out a husband and wife (her real-life husband Gabriele Tinti and Paola Senatore of Salon Kitty and Images In a Convent) and then, of course, there’s a horse named Pedro to be dealt with.

    More a series of sexual vignettes than anything else, Emanuelle In America isn’t a particularly plot heavy film but it is top notch, taboo breaking exploitation and, as such, pretty damned entertaining. More conservative viewers will no doubt take issue with the hardcore footage that is prevalent throughout the film and the scene with the horse (of course, of course) – and that’s fair enough, this is strong stuff even if the bestiality scene is tamer than you’d probably expect (the fact remains, however, that even tame bestiality is still bestiality!).

    The infamous snuff film footage is also pretty intense. It’s quite well-done and disturbingly effective. It stands in stark contrast to the sexual side of things (which is quite playful and fun) and goes to show just how fearless D’Amato could be when it came to combining sex and violence (for further examples see Emanuelle And The Last Cannibals, Porno Holocaust and Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead).

    As to the film’s production values? Nico Fidenco, who collaborated with D’Amato on more than a few occasions and one more than a few of the Black Emanuelle movies, provides an absolutely fantastic score for the picture, it’s easily some of his best work. The opening theme song itself is great, particularly if you have a soft spot for weird, falsetto style disco tracks. Credited under his real name of Aristide Massaccesi, D’Amato once again handles the cinematography himself. Say what you will about the man’s output but he knew how to frame a shot and, like pretty much all of the films that he got behind the camera for, this one looks great. The camera work is top-notch and it does a fine job of capturing not only the attractive cast doing what they do, but the exotic locations that they do it in as well. The footage early in the film of Gemser cruising the streets of 70’s Manhattan is fantastic. She looks radiant here, as she does throughout most of the film.

    Emanuelle In America – Blu-ray Review:

    Mondo Macabro bring Emanuelle In America to Blu-ray in an AVC encode 1080p high definition transfer that is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc. The transfer, which is taken from a new 4k restoration of the original 35mm negative, looks great. The feature, which takes up 29GBs of space on the disc, shows very strong detail and nice color reproduction. Black levels are fine and contrast looks spot on. The image retains the expected amount of natural film grain but shows very little damage – in fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find even a white speck, let alone any scratches of anything like that. This transfer provides a very strong upgrade over the previous DVD edition from Blue Underground, which looked good for its day. There’s better depth here, and the picture looks more film-like. Of course, detail and texture are also considerably improved too. Mondo Macabro has done a very nice job with the presentation here.

    DTS-HD Mono tracks are provided in both English and Italian language options with optional subtitles provided in English only. Both tracks are properly balanced and quite clean sounding. Fidenco’s score sounds really solid here, it has the right amount of ‘bounce’ to it and the dialogue is clean, clear and easy to understand. There aren’t any problems with any hiss or distortion to note – no problems here at all!

    Brand new audio commentary by Eurotrash aficionados Bruce Holecheck and Nathaniel Thompson. As the opening credits roll by, the offer up some info on some of the people noted including writer Maria Pia Fusco who Thompson describes as ‘the Italian Barbara Walters.’ They offer up honest opinions over the course of the film about what works and what doesn’t, the quality of some of the actors in the picture good and bad (the gun toting guy in the car at the beginning being a prime example), the give some quick history on the character of Emmanuelle, how the book turned into the hit French film which led to various spinoffs both under the Emmanuelle and Emanuelle titles. There’s a lot of talk here about the scores that some of the earlier films had, and how the original three French films were scored with an eye towards pop music sales, how some of D’Amato’s sex films compare to movies like those made by Tinto Brass (and how D’Amato decided to cash in on the success of Brass’ Caligula), how when you cast Gemser in a movie around this time you were likely getting Tinti as well as part of a ‘package deal,’ pranks that the pair would play on D’Amato on set, how to get away with making out in a church during a string quartet performance, the influence of Passolini, D’Amato’s tendency to want to shock his audience, the inclusion of hardcore footage in this film, Gemser’s relationship and friendship with D’Amato as well as her insane popularity in the Italy of her day (and the pop single she released around this time). They also cover her retirement from the film industry in the 90’s and the rare public appearances she’s made since, the film’s censorship history and home video release history and how it was tough to see it uncut without resorting to bootlegs for a while, the shocking impact of the ‘snuff’ footage, the film’s influence on a certain Cronenberg movie and quite a bit more. It's a very solid track, well-researched, informative and delivered with some welcome humor that never devolves into a joke track. Interesting stuff, and quite entertaining to listen to.

    After that, dig into the sixty-two-minute documentary Joe D'Amato Totally Uncut: The Erotic Experience, which takes a pretty deep dive into the late Aristide Massaccessi’s career in sex films. Sitting at his desk with a cigarette in his hand, he talks about how, after not finding the success he hoped he would on some westerns he got into directing and working as a cinematographer and then wound up making horror and exploitation films before then shifting to sex pictures. Along the way he talks about how he took the name D’Amato printers, how in his view hardcore destroys eroticism, how everyone has their own view of what is erotic and what isn’t, and how as a teenager he used to like watching women get out of cars hoping he would be able to get a glimpse of what lay between their legs! He then talks about some of the performers he worked with, including Gemser who he speaks quite fondly of, how shooting the Black Emanuelle films allowed him to travel the world, how and why hardcore footage wound up in Emanuelle In America, the importance of the French market, the snuff footage in the film, working with Donald O’Brian and Sirpa Lane and making the horror porn crossover films that he was responsible for directing. There’s a lot more covered in here as well, it’s interesting stuff and a great addition to the disc.

    The disc also includes a thirty-six-minute featurette entitled From To M’s To One: The Story Of Em(m)anuelle wherein David Flint talks about the history of the Emmanulle character, how the original book was credited to Emmanuelle Arson and who she really was in real life - Marayat Rollet-Andriane. Lots of interesting talk here about how much was real and how much was made up, who actually wrote the book, and who the people behind all of this were. From there Flint talks about the release of 1969’s A Man For Emmanuelle, directed by Cesare Canevari, and then of course the importance and influence of the Emmanullle films starring Sylvia Kristel and the phenomena that came in the wake of that picture. Flint covers the sequels to the film and then, of course, the Black Emanuelle films with Laura Gemser, the changes that were made to make this character unique, and how these films would often times combine sex and violence. He talks up Gemser’s career, notes the influence of Mondo Cane on certain Emanuelle films and how D’Amato threw everything into Emanuelle In America that he could. He then talks about D’Amato’s bizarre career, his relationship with Gemser, how some of Gemser’s films were retitled as Emanuelle films to cash in on her popularity and notoriety. He also covers other Emmanuelle knock offs like Carry On, Emmanulle, from various territories up to modern entries like the ones that American porno actress Allie Haze appeared in. Watch this all the way through to the end for an interesting surprise!

    The disc also includes the ever-expanding Mondo Macabro preview reel, menus and chapter selection as well as reversible cover art.

    Emanuelle In America – The Final Word:

    Emanuelle In America is a Eurotrash cinema classic, an unabashed work of pure, undiluted exploitation that pulls no punches. It’s also very nicely shot and features a solid cast that jump right in with both feet. Mondo Macabro has done a great job bringing this one to Blu-ray completely uncut with some solid extra features and in a very nice presentation.

    Click on the images below for full sized Emanuelle In America Blu-ray screen caps!