Emanuelle in America (1977)
Before you skip over this review thinking it has nothing to do with horror, at least read the 1st paragraph!! This also kinda fits into February’s “Females in Horror” theme … kinda. Read on and tell me what you think (especially if you’ve seen this one).
Before ya go thinking that I’m losing my ever-loving mind, yes I am indeed reviewing a movie from the classic Emanuelle series. BUT before you navigate away from this review there’s two important things you must know: For one, I watched this flick not for the titties or the girl-on-girl scenes. They were just the spoils of war. I watched this flick because I’d heard it has some of the most brutal and disturbing “snuff” scenes ever put on film. You know me and my movie tastes by now; I love titties, but I really love horror and exploitation. So does this have the promised disturbing “snuff” scenes? Well unlike the guys in this movie, I’m not gonna blow my load too quickly. You’re just gonna have to read on.
Secondly, David Cronenberg credits this movie as the one that influenced him to make Videodrome. Go ahead and read that last sentence again, I’ll wait. Pretty cool, huh? (You can read my review of Videodrome here).
This chapter in the Emanuelle saga is directed by no other than the King of Sexploitation, Joe D’Amato (who has 62 aliases he makes films under and who is credited with directing 193 films!!). And once again D’Amato proves he is the reigning champ of the sexploitation genre. Emanuelle, played by the very sexy Laura Gemser, is an tough-as-nails investigative reporter.
Well that might be putting it too strongly. She’s actually the most naive and trusting investigative journalist to ever hold a camera. Here she travels around the world looking for that story that will “make her”; all the while meeting people along the way who “do her.” It’s pretty much like every other Emanuelle flick: We follow Emanuelle (who is a labored metaphor for the “free love” era and a symbol of the liberated woman) around watching her get into many sexual exploits with both men and women.
But this outing has a few unexpected parts to it that make it stand out from the other movies in this franchise. Emanuelle ends up hooking up with a group of aristocrats who have a lot of money and some very bizarre fetishes. Emanuelle watches a woman masturbate a horse … and so will you. That’s right, the whole event takes place up on screen. From this group of aristocrats she hooks up with a very rich and powerful guy who runs a snuff ring. They kidnap girls, strip them down, torture them, rape them, and film it all to sell to other sick bastards with too much money. These snuff scenes happen about two-thirds of the way into the film and let me tell you it’s quite a shock. The movie starts off with the typical sexual situations of Emanuelle, hopping from one bed to the next with both males and females. Fun stuff in itself (if you get beyond the fact that all the actors and actresses are like 80 now and most likely dead — sorry, that was morbid). It’s like being 13 years old again watching a good old Skinamax movie.
Then suddenly we get a round-house kick to the head with the side plot of our heroine visiting an isolated island where real snuff films are being made. What the fuck??!!!? Emanuelle watches the snuff films with the head of the snuff ring pretending to be turned on by the horrors she’s watching. And let me tell ya people WOW D’Amato didn’t tone down the brutality at all. D’Amato really filmed some disturbing images for the “snuff movies.” We get long unedited, uninterrupted shots of these kidnapped girls being horribly tortured and raped (often at the same time). The camera was unflinching!! Look, I am very desensitized to violence in movies (I think the 2 Hostels & all the Saw movies are very tame). But the snuff scenes here made me cringe (granted I rewound and watched them over again, but still….).
Horror fans; have I ever steered you wrong? No. I insist that even if you don’t wanna watch the entire movie, which I can’t blame you for, you need to rent this and fast forward it to the snuff scenes. They are truly horrific, disturbing, and very graphic. Ok, so they only last for like 7-9 minutes. But I promise you you won’t soon forget these images.
What’s really fucked up is that like the good little reporter she is Emanuelle gets pictures of the snuff films. When she gets back to
New York City her editor refuses to print the story and the images. She what does Emanuelle do? She quits her job and goes on vacation!! Holy shit; she’s a truly horrible person. How could she live with herself knowing that endless women and girls are being horribly tortured, raped, and killed for profit? Blech this movie leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The graphic sex juxtaposed with the graphic killings is just plain disturbing and makes this perhaps the most notorious sexploitation film ever made.
Do you really care about the acting and how D’Amato sets up his shots? I didn’t think so. It’s a pretty bad movie that is only redeemed by how absolutely UN-redeemable it truly is. It’s worth a look for those of you who are sexploitation completeists. And I must reiterate that this is the film David Cronenberg said inspired him to make Videodrome. Now that says something!!
Director: Joe D’Amato
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls (for the snuff scenes)
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer