• Black Emanuelle’s Box Volume 2 (Severin Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 13th, 2007.
    Director: Bitto Albertini/Brunello Rondi/Joe D'Amato
    Cast: Sharon Lesley, Angelo Infanti, Dagmar Lassander/Laura Gemser, Annie Belle, Al Cliver/Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Elly Galleani
    Year: 1976/1976/1978
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    Black Emanuelle’s Box Volume 2 – Movie Review:

    Hot on the heels of their release of Black Emanuelle's Box Volume One came, in 2007, another trio of trashy European softcore entries in Black Emanuelle's Box Volume Two. While Gemser doesn't appear in Black Emanuelle 2, she does star in both Black Emanuelle White Emanuelle and Emanuelle and Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade, the latter of which once again finds her working with Joe D'Amato.

    Here's a peek at the three films that comprise the set...

    Black Emanuelle 2 (1976):

    Bitto Albertini's follow up to his successful Emanuelle Nera/Black Emanuelle from the previous year (itself an exotic knock off of Just Jaeckin's infamous Emmanuelle), this film finds Gemser replaced by Shulamith Lasri (credited here as Sharon Lesley) in her only credited big screen role.

    When the film begins we witness Emanuelle going through all manner of strange, degrading experiences wherein our heroin is subjected to some rather unusual experiences. From there we soon learn that she's suffering from some sort of mental condition and is in fact currently spending some quality time at a mental hospital. Here Emanuelle is receiving treatment from Dr. Paul (Angelo Infanti) who just cannot figure out why she's as flirtatious as can be but has a tendency to freak right out once the petting gets too heavy.

    As Dr. Paul and Emanuelle go through their sessions together, Emanuelle has a series of vivid flashbacks that explain how traumatic events from her past have led to her current state of anguish. We learn about the series of incidents she dealt with while spending time in Beirut and we learn about the harsh childhood issues brought on by her drunken father. Soon enough, however, her father actually shows up leading Paul to wonder if Emanuelle isn't just simply nuts and prone to exaggerating.

    Black Emanuelle, White Emanuelle (1976):

    Known alternately as Black Velvet and Emanuelle In Egypt, the second film in the set finds Laura Gemser back in the films series that made her an international icon, this time starring alongside the lovely Annie Belle (of Laura) and the perpetually bearded Al Cliver (from Lucio Fulci’s Zombie).

    Oddly enough, no one in this film is actually named Emanuelle. This time out, Gemser plays Laura, a high fashion model who travels with her friend Pina (Annie Belle) to Egypt where Laura is to participate in a photo shoot or two with a photographer named Carlo (Gabriele Tinti). Once they’re there, the photographer turns out to be a jerk – he verbally abuses poor Laura as she poses for him, forces her to pose next to a dead Arabian child, and eventually forcibly has his way with the woman. Once that’s over with, Laura and Pina meet up with a new age type named Horatio (Al Cliver) who decides to show how enlightened he is by having group sex in an Egyptian temple. That’s about it – there’s really no story to this film, it’s essentially just an excuse to have Gemser and Belle make out with everyone they come into contact with and, thankfully, with each other from time to time, though not before Horatio hypnotizes everyone and makes Laura drink the blood of a sacrificial goat!

    What? Rewind that last part. Ok. Yeah, she really does drink the blood of a sacrificial goat. Huh. Didn’t see that part coming.

    Directed by Brunello Rondi (best known for writing a good portion of Fellini’s filmography – he wrote 8 ½ and La Dolce Vita), Black Emanuelle White Emanuelle is interesting in that it stars two (at the time) real life couples – Laura Gemser and Gabriele Tinti, and Annie Belle and Al Cliver. You’d think with this sort of chemistry on set that their respective performances would heat up the screen considerably but that doesn’t really happen here, much of the softcore bump and grind footage comes off feeling too staged and too forced for its own good. That said, Gemser and especially Belle both look ravishing in the picture and the camera does not shy away from showcasing their considerably physical charms.

    Susan Scott shows up in a small supporting role in the film as does the wonderfully named Ziggy Zanger (who also pops up alongside Gemser and Tinti in Joe D’Amato’s Black Cobra Woman)! But really, none of hit makes a whole lot of sense. One can only assume given the credits to his name that Rondi was trying to bring an artsy surrealist slant to the Emanuelle formula and in some ways he succeeded – the movie looks very cool and the scenes involving Horatio and the hijinks that go on in the temple could have a deeper meaning. On the other hand, he’s also succeeded in creating a genuinely confusing film that doesn’t actually wind up going anywhere leaving us wondering what, in fact, was the point in the first place?

    That said, there’s enough in here that cult movie fans should dig the picture even if it’s far from the best that the series has to offer. The cast is fun and made up of some interesting Eurocult regulars. Cliver’s performance is as wooden as ever but quite amusing and he does show off ‘Lil Al’ in one surprising scene. The plethora of disco on the soundtrack dates the film quite nicely. The cinematography is good, and hey, Laura Gemser drinks the blood of a sacrificial goat. What more do you want?

    Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade (1976):

    The last film in the set, and the only one of the three directed by the late, great Joe D’Amato (who made the most notorious of the Black Emanuelle films, most notably the horse humping opus, Emanuelle In America) Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade is hands down the best picture in this collection. Here Gemser once more plays everyone’s favorite horny photo-journalist, Emanuelle. Her latest assignment? To come up with a story on the horrors of organized crime. To help her crack the case, she recruits the assistance of her friend Susan (Ely Galleani), a foxy fashion model who has a thing for auto mechanics.

    The pair head to the airport where Emanuelle sees a thug (Gabriele Tinti) exchanges a woman strapped into a wheelchair to some other thugs for some cold, hard cash. Unfortunately, because the two heroines are pretending to be airline flight attendants and flirting with some random rich old dude, the crime goes unstopped. From there, Emanuelle and Susan get it on in the shower before jumping on a random plane to Africa where they pose for some fashion photographers and get it on with a few lucky dudes for reasons that are never really full explained.

    Once they’re in Africa and they’ve had their fill of local wang, they spy Tinti’s character and the woman who was sold. They decide to follow the pair and Emanuelle spies a strange meeting where bound young women are displayed and then stripped in front of a group of older, wealthy men. She puts two and two together and figures this must be a white slavery ring and so she decides to crack the case and put a stop to this illegal and immoral activity – but not before she’s made out with some people, been raped, and spied on a lot of people getting it on. Oh and a transvestite gets into a fight in a bowling alley too – this movie has it all!

    Notoriously hard to find in decent shape until this DVD release, Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade is an enjoyable trashy offering from D’Amato and company that saddles the ridiculous storyline with the typically bad dubbing you’d expect in such a picture and another disco-heavy soundtrack sure to get your rump a’ shakin’ (‘Run Cheetah Run’ – thankfully included on the soundtrack CD – will stick in your brain for weeks to come). The film is full of the typically nonchalant sex scenes that the series is known for (watch Susan seduce that mechanic in about thirty seconds flat!) and while the requisite rape scene is a little gnarly this entry isn’t quite as violent as some of the others that D’Amato helmed. Instead, it’s quite a playful film despite the seedy subject matter, and as odd as it sounds, Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade turns out to be a lot of fun.

    Black Emanuelle’s Box Volume 2 – DVD Review:

    Each of the three films in this set is presented in its original anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio with Black Emanuelle 2 and Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade in 1.85.1 and Black Emanuelle White Emanuelle at 2.35.1. While it's nice to see the films properly framed, Severin hasn't flagged the transfers for progressive scan playback so depending on your set up you could very well notice some combing on the picture.

    That issue aside, the films all look decent even if they don't look perfect. Expect a bit of grain throughout and some minor print damage, but that's about it. Colors look pretty strong and it's probably safe to guess that any softness noticeable in any of the three films has more to do with the way in which they were shot than with the transfer themselves.

    Flesh tones look very natural, always a plus with this type of material considering the abundance of it on display, and black levels are fairly strong. While these aren't reference quality transfers and the flagging issue is a disappointment, they're otherwise pretty decent efforts and the films look good overall (by the standards of 2007 DVD releases at least).

    All three films are presented in the English language tracks and Black Emanuelle White Emanuelle also includes the Italian language track with optional English subtitles. Every once in a while things are a little flat sounding but the dialogue stays clean and clear throughout. The scores used on the three pictures always sound nice and bouncy and there aren't really any serious problems with background hiss or level fluctuations.

    The primary extra feature on the Black Emanuelle 2 DVD is Diva 70, a fifteen-minute interview with Dagmar Lassander. Conducted in Italian with English subtitles, this interview allows Lassander to talk about how she got her start in cinema, what it was like being a sex symbol in the seventies, and what she’s been up to since she retired from the big screen. Fans of Ms. Lassander will certainly relish this rare opportunity to hear her story in her own words but those expecting oodles of gossip or any real dirt on those she worked with on some of her various projects will be disappointed. That said, it’s a reasonably interesting discussion from one of the original sirens of seventies Eurocult cinema.

    Also included on this disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer. Menus and chapter stops are also included.

    The biggest and best of the extra features on the Black Emanuelle White Emanuelle DVD is a featurette entitled Black Velvet that runs just over eighteen-minutes in length. Made up of audio interviews with Laura Gemser and Annie Belle as well as some recent on camera interview footage with Al Cliver, the three stars of the film to discuss their respective roles and to give their thoughts on the film itself. They talk about what it was like working on location (Gemser was ill most of the time!) and how they feel about the project and they time that they spent together working on it and this turns out to be quite an interesting featurette that does a good job of relaying the history of the film from the perspective of those who starred in it. All three interviewees speak Italian though the included English subtitles do a fine job of translating.

    Once again, the disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer, menus and chapter stops.

    On the Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade DVD we are treated to a twelve-minute camcorder interview with the film’s late director, Joe D’Amato entitled After Hours With Joe D’Amato. The always jovial director sits around a dinner table and talks quite candidly with a few film journalists about not only the Black Emanuelle films but about many of his other sex pictures as well. He even touches on why bestiality was included in a specific movie well known to cult film fans.

    Of course, the disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer, menus and chapter stops.

    Also included in the set is a bonus CD containing the following tracks courtesy of Nico Fidenco taken from three different films in the series:

    Emanuelle Nera In America: Emanuelle In America Sweet/Venice Reportage/Rhubarb/Revulsion Tango/Your Solstice/Emanuelle In America Theme/Emanuelle In America Dream/I'm Your King

    Emanuelle E Gli Ultima Cannibali: Make Love On The Wing/Waiting For The Cannibals/The Dark Side Of The Soul/Make Love On The Wing (Instrumental)/Wild Nightmare/Cannibals' Dance/Make Love On The Wing (Instrumental)/The Dark Side Of The Soul/Make Love On The Wing (Slow Version)

    La Via Della Prostituzione: Run Cheetah Run/A Modern Reportage/Sweet Disco Funky/Dee Doom Bee Boom/Ayaboha/Performing Joy/Too Much Again!/Heartbeat

    The three keepcases fit nicely inside a sturdy and attractive cardboard box with an appropriately provocative picture of Gemser on the front cover.

    Black Emanuelle’s Box Volume 2 – The Final Word:

    If you dug the first release, you know what you're in for and it's a pretty safe bet that you're going to dig Black Emanuelle's Box Volume Two. Also… Gemser!